By LINDSAY WEININGER
On Thursday, November 10, PRSSA was introduced to our new professional adviser and guest speaker, Caitlin Farhat, who discussed her collegiate and professional accomplishments, her current work at APCO Worldwide, her involvement in PRSA and some advice for internship seekers and job seekers.
Farhat introduced herself by taking us on a journey through a timeline of her adult life. Though the timeline was relatively short, the impressive aspect of it was the amount of accomplishments she achieved in just a few years.
In 2014, Farhat graduated from Morehead State University, a small college in her home state of Kentucky, with a bachelor’s degree in Communications & International Studies. Among her extensive list of school involvement, she was also PRSSA chapter president from August 2011 to December 2013.
After completing the Alfred Fleishman Diversity Fellowship program in college, Farhat went on to working with FleishmanHillard in Raleigh for ten months. Shortly after, she began her journey at APCO Worldwide in their Raleigh-Durham office as a project assistant. From there, she worked her way up to project consultant and finally to associate consultant which she continues today.
“We have ten people,” said Farhat. “If something needs to be done, we need to do it.” She explained this extra effort to be the reason behind her multiple promotions. “Never say no to an opportunity…They wouldn’t ask you to do it if they didn’t think you could,” she said.
APCO Worldwide, founded in 1984, is a global communication, stakeholder engagement and business strategy firm. They currently have 35 locations around the world, with their headquarters in Washington D.C. The firm is independent, majority employee-and women-owned and has more than 600 people with diverse experiences and backgrounds. It also has more than $118 million in revenue and their clients include six of the top ten companies on the Fortune 500.
As an associate consultant, Farhat mainly focuses on leading client accounts and face-to-face communication. Her current specialty is traditional PR, as in mostly media relations and writing.
At APCO offices, they foster an open-team environment by having a completely open office-space. “We learn what people are good at,” said Farhat. “At APCO, we build each other up a lot. They’re my mentors. They’re my friends. They’re people I learn from.”
INTERNSHIPS AT APCO WORLDWIDE
Paid internships at APCO are offered in the spring, summer and fall. At any given time, they like to have three interns in their Raleigh-Durham office.
The day-to-day tasks of an intern at APCO is at the project assistant level. Interns would mainly focus on research and media list building. Interns get grouped with a limited amount of specific clients in order to fully grow comfortable and familiar with them.
Employees at APCO rely heavily on interns. Therefore, the best interns would often brainstorm and participate. They should be able to accept work from their supervisors and make sure that it all gets done before given deadlines. Interns should also be willing to really learn from what they are doing.
Farhat discussed the many resources that PRSA offers to its members. For instance, they provide free live and on-demand webinars, discounted registration for in-person seminars and conferences, a monthly Public Relations Tactics newspaper, awards and accreditation (APR, for example), industry expertise, local and national networking, member directories, online forums and case studies.
To its members, PRSA also sends out a Daily Issues & Trends e-newsletter (one of Farhat’s favorite benefits) which reports on everything that is going on in PR each day. “It’s good to stay smart and in the know,” said Farhat.
There is a Jobcenter which showcases job postings, exclusively to PRSA members. The Jobcenter is a great tool to utilize when in need of advice. “Never be afraid to reach out to anyone at PRSA,” said Farhat. “They want to talk to you.” Additionally, the Jobcenter presents benchmark salaries. This resource is particularly helpful for job seekers as they are usually asked for their preferred compensation before or during a job interview.
ADVICE FOR SOON-TO-BE GRADUATES
- Build your LinkedIn profiles completely.
- Networking is everything; get your foot in the door.
- Apply for anything and everything.
“If you don’t get a job right out of college, don’t fret,” said Farhat. “You’ll be working the rest of your life.”
ADVICE FOR ENTRY-LEVELS
- Build you reputation for what you are good at.
“Building your own brand within your own company – that’s what really gets you far.”