By Hanna Moore
PRSSA Kent members participated in Skype meeting with Sruti Ramadugu, Communications Advisor at USAID in Washington, D.C. Ramadugu has experience working in the public sector with Lean In DC, First Lady Michelle Obama's Let Girls Learn Initiative, the Obama presidential campaign and internships with Senator Sherrod Brown.
Even though Ramadugu works in communications today, she was originally interested in policy. She said she hopes to go to business school get her master's degree and continue working in the field of gender equality and women's empowerment. Below is some advice that she gave to PRSSA Kent's members:
Network with alumni.
Ramadugu encouraged us to use the Kent State alumni network because if there is a specific city or state we want to work in, there is probably an alumnus who can help connect us to a job there. When asked about how she was able to leave Northeast Ohio, she said, "Ohio is a state, it's not a prison."
Gain a range of experiences.
Ramadugu first got involved with Hillary Clinton's campaign in 2008 when she was in high school. From there, she gained more experienced and went on to complete 12 internships in college, including some with Senator Sherrod Brown, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and MSNBC.
A typical day for Ramadugu at Let Girls Learn involves "a lot of writing." She shared that she was working with colleagues in other countries in preparation for the International Day of the Girl, which was Oct. 11.
Pursue leadership opportunities.
Ramadugu also shared that she and some of her female friends were inspired by Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, a book written by Nell Scovell and Sheryl Sandberg. They viewed this book into a "curriculum" that could be used to help more women gain leadership positions. Ramadugu is now the executive director of Lean In DC, where she built partnerships with local companies and organizations to develop events and opportunities to empower women to pursue leadership opportunities.
Become an expert.
Ramadugu offered advice for students who want to pursue a career in public affairs, saying that it is better to become an expert in one area, so you can become really familiar with it. She said that in D.C., a master's degree in communications is less necessary because relationships and experience are more important. She encouraged us to keep in contact with people we meet at internships and jobs because they can help connect you with other opportunities.
By Hanna Moore
For first meeting of the semester, we heard from new PRKent faculty member Cheryl Ann Lambert, Ph.D., who spoke to us about how public relations is portrayed in the media. Lambert received a bachelor's degree in English, a master's degree in journalism and a doctorate degree in public relations. She served as an editor for five years at a Chilton Publishing Company trade magazine and worked in corporate public relations at Sears, Roebuck and Co. Lambert then went on to work as an assistant professor at Boston University before joining Kent State's faculty this fall.
Dr. Lambert discussed the negative portrayals of public relations in society. She said, "If you believe that public relations is illegal, immoral and unethical, you're in the wrong major. People in PR don't think that." Dr. Lambert explained that the best way we, as students and soon-to-be public relations professionals can combat these stereotypes is by acting professional and leading by example.
Dr. Lambert addressed some depictions of public relations in popular culture, saying that even though Scandal sometimes gives the public relations profession a bad reputation, she is still a huge fan of Olivia Pope and Judy Smith, the real-life woman who inspired the show. She said that even though some parts of the show accurately depict crisis communications, obviously Smith was not really covering up murders or having an affair with the President in real life. Dr. Lambert also discussed Samantha Jones, who played a publicist on Sex and the City. She said that Jones perpetuated the stereotypes that female public relations professionals only partied and used their bodies to get new clients. As for which public relations professionals in movies accurately depict public relations, Dr. Lambert referenced Kristen Wiig's character in The Martian and Jason Bateman's character in Hancock. Both of these characters actually showed what public relations professionals do in their careers and were shown in a positive light, Lambert said.