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Not many people can boast that they’ve visited their alma mater every year since graduation. For me, it’s become something of a ritual the last three years.

Each spring, Washington State University hosts the annual Murrow Symposium, a celebration of exceptional achievement in communication, and a tribute to the iconic Edward R. Murrow.

As part of the three-day program, PR pros, acclaimed journalists and seasoned storytellers from all corners of the state are invited to lead workshops for students on how to succeed in our ever-changing and increasingly competitive industry. I can still remember sitting in a packed auditorium for Weber Shandwick’s 2011 “Br@nd U” session. A senior at the time, I was inspired by the agency’s passion, intelligence and insatiable appetite for discovering what’s next.

This year was no different, as I looked out at a standing-room-only crowd of eager students, ready to glean insights on the latest social and digital trends. After our presentation, we caught up with our hospitable campus ambassador and soon-to-be grad, Alexandra Wilson, who opened up about her experience at the Symposium.

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The Murrow Symposium offers a pretty cool opportunity for students to mingle with industry pros. What were you most excited about going into this year’s program?

Going into the ‘Meet the Pros’ day, I was most excited to gain perspective from professionals in their field of expertise. Sometimes, I think students forget that their professors are highly-educated and often had professional careers before dedicating their time to teaching. It’s similar to when your parents gave you advice as a kid and you didn’t take them seriously until you heard it from another source. Besides gaining a newfound respect for my professors, I also got to network with the industry’s finest and start building relationships.

What were you most surprised to learn about the industry or what companies are looking for in intern candidates?

I was most surprised to learn about the emphasis companies place on your knowledge outside of the classroom. Being a student, I can knock out websites, craft social media strategies and measure the success of any given campaign, but I didn’t realize companies are looking for a lot more than what I’ve learned in the classroom. I was happy and surprised to learn how many employers care about my interests and passions on a personal level.

Weber Shandwick has come to the Symposium for four consecutive years, and each time we’ve presented on a different topic of interest. What were your favorite parts of the presentation this year? What did you find most helpful?

Being a 21-year-old, I thought I was pretty hip and ahead of social media trends. In that sense, I thought I was going to be familiar with everything Weber Shandwick presented, but I was pleasantly surprised. The ladies of Weber Shandwick were way ahead with all the latest and greatest social media tools available on the web. And they emphasized the reality that it’s always changing. Sure, I learned about HootSuite two years ago, but tools are always evolving and new ones are popping up. I found their reminder to stay on top of the new tools and not be afraid of change extremely important and helpful.

As a senior approaching graduation in May, what is your biggest concern about getting into the PR and communications field?

Being so close to graduation is extremely bittersweet. I’m bummed to leave Pullman, but I’m excited to start the next chapter in my life. My biggest concern about getting into the communications and PR field is that there are so many options for a career, I don’t know where to start! I am both excited and nervous to start my career so I can find my niche in the communications world.

Final question and arguably the most important. What is the biggest difference between a Coug and a Dawg? 

The biggest difference between being a Coug and a Dawg is Cougar Pride! Spending the past four years in Pullman has taught me the importance of community. Pullman is a tight-knit community that supports each other through thick and thin. There is something special about living in the Palouse—we all learn and grow together. I am proud to be a Coug, and can’t wait until I see a fellow Coug outside of Pullman, whether it be a family vacation in Disneyland or studying abroad in Europe, so we can have that moment in unison and say, ‘Go Cougs!’

Until next year!

Big thanks to the Murrow College for having us back. We had an amazing time visiting with students and faculty, and even enjoyed a delicious meal at Birch and Barley. Last, but not least, all PR intern hopefuls, we’re hiring! To apply, send your cover letter, resume and portfolio (if applicable) to seattleinterns@webershandwick.com

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