TGC Students Spend Their Spring Break in 'The Big Apple'

New York City is not a typical spring break destination, but for a group of women from Chico State’s Tehama Group Communications, the opportunity to network with alumni and catch a glimpse of the professional world of strategic communication was more rewarding than a relaxing week at the beach.

The trip, coordinated by the student-run public relations agency’s faculty adviser Debra Johnson, consisted of two full days of networking visits with alumni and other representatives from Tiffany & Co., Hearst Corp., W Hotels Worldwide, ABC News and public relations firms Access Communications and Edelman.

The primary purpose of the trip was to give TGC students, including General Manager Megan McCourt, the chance to learn from alumni and get a better idea of what lies on the other side of the graduation ceremony for Chico State’s public relations majors.

“TGC went to New York to connect with agency alumni who are currently working in prestigious positions,” McCourt said. “It gave students a taste of what life would be like working in the big city.”

The range of possibilities for journalism graduates was exemplified by the variety of jobs held by agency alumni, which included traditional agency public relations, internal communication and even a position in digital ad sales, held by TGC alumna Kirsten Dobbie, ABC’s assistant sponsorship manager.

“Of all the degrees you can earn, PR is valuable a million times over,” Dobbie said. “It’s a degree that can take you so many directions. It can be applied anywhere.”

The site visits incorporated ideas from all aspects of public relations and provided a comprehensive vision of the demands and rewards of a career in public relations.

Speakers and presenters included professionals in the fields of photography, human resources, sales, graphic design, writing and even agency upper management. Brian Regan, Access Communications’ senior vice president and general manager of the New York office, spoke about what is required of those who choose to go into a position at a public relations agency.

“Agency public relations demands that you as a professional always be learning new things,” Regan said. “Our clients have taken years to become experts in everything from flowers to FICO scores, but we have to become smart and savvy in a matter of weeks or months. That’s our challenge.”

Because students who went on the trip met both agency and in-house public relations professionals, they were able to gain a better perspective on how their classes and internships at Chico State will be applied after graduation, McCourt said.

“We now have an idea of what working life is like versus what we do here at TGC and I think, overall, we saw it was very similar and we do very similar things.”

Tehama Group Communications' networking trip to New York City