By LINDSAY WEININGER
On Thursday, February 23, PRSSA members heard from Cassady Channita, marketing and public relations manager for Xistance, a startup company whose website creates timelines, maps and family trees for its users.
Channita graduated from Samford University in 2015 with a B.A. in Journalism & Mass Communications/Public Relations & Marketing. During her college career, she completed 5-6 internships. She worked at a handful of diverse agencies before agreeing one day to become the first hire of a startup company: Xistance.
Working at a Startup
“It was a gut decision to decide to work at a startup,” Channnita said. “It’s definitely been a risk, but it’s been a fun one for sure.”
“I think you need more than a social media manager,” Channita said to the founder of Xistance. Therefore, she created her job for herself. Now, anything that goes out from the company comes from her. She takes pride in being the face of Xistance at networking events. She gets to work from home – which is challenging, she claims – but it gives her a lot of flexibility.
In a startup world, it’s a little more casual. However, she would often find herself answering an important question over a phone call at midnight. “In a small startup, you’re always communicating because there are no business hours,” Channita said.
“I now have a lot of control over my life and what I want to do,” Channita said. “I’m creating the processes to fit my style.”
Working in the Tech Industry
Channita, not knowing much about the technology industry, jumped all in to the industry to learn more about her client. She did a lot of reading, attended women in tech events and followed many tech blogs. “Really be aware of what’s going on in your industry,” Channita said. “That’s the most valuable thing.”
PRSSA’s Bateman Campaign Competition
While in college, Channita participated in PRSSA’s Bateman Campaign Competition. She was able to have real interactions with journalists and create original social media content. “It gave me a feel for what a real PR campaign looks like,” Channita said. “The good part of it and the bad part of it.”
Channita highly recommends PRSSA members to attend PRSA meetings as college students. It’s an extremely valuable opportunity for you to put yourself out there, network and meet new connections. “PR is all about who you know,” Channita said. “If you don’t know people, you won’t do well.”
Tips & Advice
- Be on all platforms of social media. Mainly be on them in a professional manner.
- Always write.
- Know how to work with different personality types. “Relationships are so important in the professional world,” Channita said. “Let every professional interaction be a positive on.”
- Go to networking events.
- Your first job probably isn’t going to be your dream job.
- Find a mentor. “It’s so valuable to have a mentor,” Channita said. “They are genuine friends, genuine connections and you can always learn from other people’s mistakes.”
- Don’t undersell yourself in interviews. “Women, especially, tend to undersell themselves,” Channita said. “Do the opposite of this. You’re going to learn on the job anyway. If you’ve done it once, you have experience. Then, be willing to learn that task. Don’t sell yourself short.”
- Differentiate yourself in your resume in some way. “Don’t be afraid to put something a little random on there,” Channita said.
- Don’t be afraid to do something a little less corporate on your LinkedIn profile – e.g., “Coffee Lover” in your description.