While being an exchange student may have dissuaded some students from getting involved, Ellie Matthews has embraced PRSSA and all the opportunities it offers. Read on to learn more about this native Australian and Illinois State University PRSSA member.
What year in school are you?
I am actually between being a junior and a senior. Here in the United States, you call them courses and back at home we call them units. A public relations major in Australia would usually take four units a semester and graduate in three years. Since courses in the United States are broken down differently, I still have a few units left to take when I arrive back in Australia next semester.
What committee are you a part of in PRSSA?
I am in PRi. I am currently doing work with Her Campus, and I really enjoy that.
Do you have any internships?
No, not right now. I came here to study and to enjoy college in America. When I go back home to finish my degree, I will be a part-time student because only a couple of my units are offered in the first semester, and I will take the last two during the second semester. When I get back, I plan to buckle down and start applying for internships and get involved by gaining work experience. Right now I just want to focus on my grade point average, and then when I have time, start getting more involved so I can get a job.
What type of public relations are you interested in?
I haven’t really narrowed it down yet. I suppose when I graduate I’d like to gain experience in both nonprofit and agency, then possibly work my way up to corporate one day. I am interested in campaign planning as well as crisis communication, and in agency public relations you get to experience both of those things. I’d like to try a bit of everything. However, there are definitely certain things that interest me, like media relations. I am double majoring in broadcast journalism. So, I really haven’t narrowed it down yet.
Do you have any plans after graduation? Any specific companies you want to work for?
I really don’t have any plans yet. I think I’m just going to see where life takes me. I’m hoping that I can get an internship that eventually leads to a full-time job. I also might start applying to nonprofit organizations and agencies after I have had some more experience and internships. At my home university, public relations majors usually start off at a nonprofit organization, gaining work experience that turns into being hired as a full-time employee. There is an agriculture agency based in a small town near Perth, called Esther Price Promotions, and it focuses on agricultural events. I may look into Breast Cancer WA, which is a nonprofit organization.
Why did you choose to come to America to study abroad?
I have always been fascinated by America. Ever since I was a little girl, the movies made America look so fun and different. I applied to study abroad in 2011, and it took two years to plan and apply. I wanted to study as well because not everyone gets to have this kind of experience. I could have come here as just a tourist, but I wanted more out of it. I love getting that “behind-the-scenes” experience. When I was in high school, I studied abroad in Japan, where a group of peers and I stayed with a host family and went to school there where I studied Japanese. It gave me such a cultural learning experience, and that is very special.
Questions composed by Ashley Funderburk
PRecisely PR is the blog of the Illinois State University Chapter of the PRSSA. We write about Chapter events, the public relations industry, member profiles, and more.