Guest Post – The Value of Financial Literacy

Today we’re thrilled to have UCM PR Program alum Cory Bittner as a guest blogger. He has some great advice for all of us. 

My name is Cory Bittner and I am the Chief Opcory (1)erating Officer and Co-Founder of Falcon Wealth Advisors in Mission Woods, Kansas. I’ve been fortunate to spend nearly eight years in the Wealth Management industry and in 2016 had the opportunity to launch my own practice alongside my business partner with the support of our staff from our previous employer.

The technical competency and understanding of the intricacies that drive the capital markets are a prerequisite to serve as a wealth advisor. Over the last several years I’ve capitalized on opportunities (and lucked out things broke my way) to affiliate with prestigious organizations, and educate myself at one of the world’s top business schools. However, I am routinely astonished at the general public’s lack of financial literacy. I’m not talking about P/E multipliers or implied volatility. I am referring to topics that that ought to be instilled in all of us at a young age. My intention is to touch on a few different subjects, from a 30,000-foot perspective, to highlight topics that I wish someone would have explained more clearly to me when I was 18-22 years old.

  • Saving/Compounding Let’s face it, we are not part of the pension generation. New workers today are shouldering more responsibility planning for their own future. If you’re fortunate enough to have a job where an employer-sponsored retirement plan is available to you, and perhaps your employer is even willing to match a portion of your contributions, it is foolish to not take full advantage of that benefit. An employer match on your own savings is free money! The benefits to saving early in life have been well-documented (see page 16 in link provided).
  • Buying Your First Home – You’ve graduated college, perhaps you’ve had roommates/rented your own place for a few years, and you’re contemplating making what’s likely your first major purchase. Hopefully you’ve set money aside the last several years to make a down payment. If not, consider the additional expense of mortgage insurance. Purchasing a home where you cannot afford to put down 20% of the cost means you’re probably out of your price range. Don’t rush the process, but make sure that if you’re not building equity in a home (if you’re renting), make sure you’re doing so elsewhere (like the stock market).
  • Debt Management – I hope you’re lucky enough to graduate college without student loans! If you’re not, that is okay. You’re one of the Americans that collectively owed more than $1.3 trillion in student loans at the end of June 2017. Research has shown it takes the average bachelor’s degree holder 21 years to pay off student debt. Investing in your education is investing in yourself. That said, don’t put your head in the sand when it comes to the details of your loan(s). Six months after graduation, payments will begin, and you’re going to want to understand how much money you borrowed, and how much interest you’re going to pay over the next 21+ years. Ignorance is no excuse!

When I first declared Public Relations my major at UCM, I did not have the slightest idea the career path that would take me down. I attribute my ability to think critically about the details while viewing the big picture to the UCM PR Department. I learned, as Theodore Roosevelt famously said to, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” Resourcefulness should never be discounted. These are life skills that I’ll forever be grateful were taught to me. My hope is this post highlights another proficiency, Financial Literacy, that may help prepare you for what lies ahead.

Falcon Logo 300ppiai

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

9 Things Every Public Relations Student Should Be Doing Over Summer Break

We’re sharing a great article today from our friend Tressa Robbins at BurrellesLuce in St. Louis. She has some great advice for our students. It was originally posted here on

If we could be so bold we would make number 10 on the list, be sure to tell anyone you know who is coming to UCM to check out PR as a potential major. Anything else you would add?

9 Things Every Public Relations Student Should Be Doing Over Summer Break

July 13th, 2017 ·

PR Students Summer Homework

By Tressa Robbins

Those who were seniors this past year are now graduated and moved on, leaving room for the next class of future PR professionals to fill their shoes—to take next steps on the path of their PR student career.  But you’re still a student, so what should YOU be doing during summer break? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Set short-term goals. For example, attend at least one professional industry networking event over the summer. And, read industry blogs and/or articles and comment on at least one each week.
  • Set long-term goals, write them down and number them in order of importance. For example, attend at least one industry professional networking event per semester. And/or get involved with on-campus pre-professional organization (such as PRSSA or AMA).
  • Work on your portfolio. Gather writing samples–or create some by volunteering to write a guest blog post, or better yet, start your own blog. Be sure to include any public relations or marketing plans you’ve created, press releases, anything written in AP Style, research papers, newspaper clippings, presentations, creative design samples, reference letters, special certifications, etc. If you haven’t yet created an online portfolio, do so. The earlier you begin, the more prepared you will be come graduation time. NOTE: If you are including any work that was done as part of a group, be sure to notate this and identify which part you actually did.
  • Develop your elevator pitch. You should have a 15-second blurb that is memorable and opens a window to your personality, your passions and your mindset. Not a laundry list of skills but rather what you can offer to a potential employer–why would someone want to hire you? Practice OUT LOUD. Use your phone to video yourself so you can play it back, listen, observe, and make improvements.
  • Clean-up and hone your online presence—including your social media accounts. Check your privacy settings (and check them again). Google yourself  (be sure to ‘hide private results’ by clicking Settings)–and don’t forget Yahoo and Bing (yes, some people actually use Bing). If the first page results do not represent who you are, immediately begin digital damage control. This is even more important if you have a common name and can easily be confused with a dubious doppelgänger. Seek out and follow industry leaders so you can network and learn from the professionals, not just fellow students.
    –   Not sure what “digital damage control” is? Here are some tips from Forbes.
    –   Don’t think employers are using the Web and social media to research job candidates? Read these recent stats from Career Builder.
  • Participate in industry-related Twitter chats and take advantage of free webinars or Facebook Live professional events–especially explore topics that are not covered in the classroom or an area of specialty you’re considering.
  • PR professionals are, in themselves, “brands”—it’s a very competitive industry. Your business cards, resume, online portfolios, etc. should present a cohesive message. Work on ensuring that all these match your “brand.” Your reputation is one of your biggest assets.
  • Research agencies, organization, companies that you would like to intern with or work for.  Reach out to them and request an informational interview. Face-to-face is best, of course, but live video chat works, too. Ask what (coursework, degrees, activities, skill sets) they are looking for when hiring. Ask, given identical academic backgrounds, what makes some candidates standout above the rest–and what makes some of them instantly get weeded out.
  • Volunteer at a local non-profit and offer to help with public relations, marketing, social media, blog content creation, special events. This is experience—it all counts!

If you are a student or recent graduate, what have you done (or are doing) to progress your career? If you are a PR professional, what else would you advise students (or young PR pros) to be doing in preparation for their careers?

Tressa Robbins photo Tressa Robbins, a BurrellesLuce VP, PRSA St. Louis board member and PRSSA professional adviser, writes for the BurrellesLuce blog, where this guest post first appeared. She contributes to other blogs, including her own–Tressa’s Truisms–and speaks at various PR-related events. You can connect with her on Twitter @tressalynne.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A look at the program from a student perspective

We thought you might enjoy hearing from one of our students about the UCM PR Program. Blake Hedberg submitted this winning video essay about the program for the UCM PR Scholarship. Blake is about to head to grad school and will continue his role as the manager of our student agency, Innovative Public Relations. He talks about what is important to him about the program, it is great perspective…feel free to share it with a friend, especially if you know someone who is looking for a great major!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Guest Post: What A Trip to My Alma Mater Can Teach Us About Marketing And Life

We’re excited to share this guest post from UCM PR alum Tony Winders. Tony joined our program advisory board recently and was kind enough to spend a day talking with UCM PR students before our Spring meeting. This post originally appeared on his blog at his website 

Be sure to keep up with the program on our website at


by Tony Winders

When I decided to travel back to my alma mater, the University of Central Missouri, for the 50th reunion of my Lambda Chi Alpha chapter, I offered to speak to the public relations undergrads and Dr. Tricia Hansen-Horn graciously accepted. Throughout the day, last Thursday, I had the opportunity to speak with more than 120 students.

Searching for an interesting topic beyond just droning on about myself, I was inspired enough by some of the interactions I had on my trip that I decided to use them as anecdotes for sharing a few lessons about marketing and life with the undergrads. Perhaps you too can find some value in my situation. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A “gem” of an impact on youth like me!


Guest post by 2016 alumna Briana Piercey 


I bet you’re like me and you like the idea of giving back? If so, how DO you give back? Let me introduce you how others gave untold riches to me…they gave to me by mentoring children living in urban communities. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Season of Giving


It is that time of year again. Yep, finals week is over and another semester is in the books! We are also right in the middle of the holiday season. So as we end another great semester of engagement and learning at the UCM PR Program, our thoughts are also turning to ending the year and the season of giving. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Attention UCM PR Alums: Let’s PRConnect on Oct. 27 in Lee’s Summit

Hi everyone, we’re really looking forward to our first UCM PR Program Alumni event October 27, 2016. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Out in the “real world” and doing fine

A big thank you to alumnae Jamie Chaplin for this guest post from about how her UCM degree helped in that all important first job search and those first few months on the job.

by Jamie Chaplin


I thought graduation would never show up. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

3 Reasons to Avoid Senioritis (and how to do it)


by Dani Myers

Hey, seniors (and even juniors)! I understand what’s probably going through your minds as you start yet another year of college. You’re tired, maybe a little burned out. The novelty and excitement of being a PR major ready to take on the professional world has lost its luster. But, today I’m here to tell you: You’ve got this! Don’t slow down yet! Push through until you’re in that cap and gown and eventually walk through the doors to your future employer.
Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

We’re back!

We’re back to school for another semester and we’re very excited about our students and their opportunities in the Harmon College of Business and Professional Studies here at UCM. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment