By Tricia Hansen-Horn
It’s pretty neat to watch students transform from passive learners to colleagues-in-training to successful professionals. The UCM PR faculty knows that program alumni can play an integral part in that transformation. When they engage UCM PR majors as interns, the impact is remarkable. Among our alumni who already engage with our interns, are Marketing Director at Missouri State Fair Tammie Nichols and Director of Communications and Marketing at Children’s Mercy Kansas City Shawn Arni. CEO and President of Aircraft Electronics Association Paula Derks had such a great experience that she hired her intern.
Tammie Nichols found UCM PR majors competitive enough to work for her as Missouri State Fair interns. Dani Myers interned for Tammie and leveraged that experience into a graduate level internship with Crossroads. She is now employed as a social media strategist for Silpada Designs. Eki Lau interned for Tammie and recently earned her master’s degree in international and intercultural communication from the University of Denver. Eki leveraged her State Fair internship experience as she landed graduate-level internships at the Denver Art Museum, ShareLingo of Denver, and Sprint.
“The time spent at the Missouri State Fair under the leadership of Tammie Nichols inspired me to strive for excellence in everything I do,” Myers said. “Tammie is highly organized and a great writer; the skills I learned from her are valuable in many aspects of my professional career.”
Lau echoed the same sentiments. “I wouldn’t trade my time learning from Tammie for anything,” she said.
Shawn Arni has also employed program interns and seen them move from that role to substantive professional achievements. Jessica Tandy interned for Children’s Mercy and found a love for healthcare communications and later took some of those skills with her on her mission trip to Africa. She is currently employed as a regional marketing associate at Pacific Dental Services. Leah (Bradshaw) Godfrey also interned for Children’s Mercy. She went from there to full time employment with the Salvation Army Kansas and Western Missouri Division as a its eCommunications web development officer. Her current position with Summit Marketing lets her apply her Children’s Mercy multi-tasking skills and her Salvation Army eCommunications skills as an interactive strategist.
“I am always excited to see intern candidates from UCM because I know they are going to be well-trained in the tactical aspects of public relations and have a strategic mindset that helps them ask the right questions to most effectively communicate with our target audiences,” Arni said. “Both Jessica and Leah left a memorable positive impression with me and with our staff. I know they have a great future ahead of them.”
Godfrey had nothing but good things to say about her Mercy employment. “Shawn is one of the greatest mentors an intern can have,” Godfrey said.
Finally, Paula Derks served the program as its capstone course campaigns client. One of the student team leaders so impressed her that the relationship ended in an internship position for Jenna (Kramer) Reid. Reid performed so well as an intern that she became the AEA’s next manager of operations and support services as the copy editor for its monthly magazine, Avionics News. From there, Jenna traveled to a career with Sullivan, Higdon & Sink as a brand manager for an aviation client.
“Jenna was one of the most driven and impression-leaving young women I had met in a long time. From student team leader, to intern, to full-time employee I continued to be impressed with her abilities as a young professional coming through the UCM PR program after me,” Derks said. “It was a great relationship; we remain in contact though her professional and personal goals moved her away from us.”
The future remains bright for UCM PR majors. The power that program alumni have to transform their futures already has a proven track record. Alumni engagement, especially in internship placement, is a powerful professional force.
Tricia Hansen-Horn is a professor and coordinates internships in the UCM Public Relations Program.