University degree: Master in International Affairs
Company: Weber Shandwick
What has been your career path to date?
I started as a radio speaker, then worked for local human rights NGOs and international student organisations. After coming to the Graduate Institute I focused on humanitarian affairs (internships, consultancies and assistant positions), but then somehow surprisingly finished up as a PR and communications consultant in the global PR agency Weber Shandwick. I would eventually like to focus once again on humanitarian affairs.
Why did you choose to study at the Institute?
The Institute was recommended to me as an institution that offered high quality postgraduate education, where I could find a proper balance between disciplinary expertise and interdisciplinarity.
What is your most significant memory from your time at the Institute?
There are many; in fact, most of my best memories are with the international students that I met there.
Did you work during your studies?
Yes. At the end of my first year I completed an internship for OCHA, which was followed by a short term UNICEF consultancy. In the second year I worked full-time as an assistant for humanitarian affairs and disarmament for the EU Presidency.
Why did you choose a career in Public Relations/Communications?
This was pure coincidence, although I wanted to try out the private sector, plus I assumed that a real-time global PR agency experience would be beneficial for everything I wish to do in the future.
In your opinion, what are the qualities necessary for a successful career in Public Relations and Communications?
There are consultants and good consultants. Both of them need to know how to improvise; but the good consultant needs “the guts” to challenge the client and deliver the truth, even if it hurts sometimes. Plus being solution-oriented and active is crucial.
Did the Institute prepare you well?
Yes. The Institute played a crucial – positive – role in my professional development.
What advantages did the Institute give you from an intellectual point of view?
An interdisciplinary approach and an incentive to challenge the world around me; small classes and engaging professors who are at the top of their fields.
What is your current position at Weber Shandwick and what are your responsibilities?
As a junior PR consultant my tasks and responsibilities vary from client to client. I take part in PR strategy developments (developing communications strategies and activities with and for clients), operational tasks (day-to-day media relations, i.e. pitching and responding to journalists’ requests, topic research and media monitoring) and on-site support. A diverse clientele means diverse tasks.
What skills have you retained from your time at the Institute?
Writing and analytical skills, widely applicable research methods and, of course, substantial knowledge.