Welcome to The LAGRANT Foundation Blog

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A Message from TLF Alumni Leo and Lesly Rodriguez
Hello everyone, 
Our names are Leo and Lesly Rodriguez, the Rodriguez siblings. Leo received The LAGRANT Foundation (TLF) scholarship in 2016 and 2017 and Lesly received the scholarship in 2018, making us one of the first sibling duos to be awarded the prestigious scholarship.
Leo pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Lesly pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism, both from Georgia State University. We successfully received our degrees in 2018 and 2019, an achievement that would not have been possible without the unconditional support and guidance of TLF.
Since then, our lives and careers have had a strong focus on advancing TLF’s mission. From the moment we met the recipients, partners and TLF staff, we knew this organization and experience was full of boundless opportunity.
After graduation, Leo began his career at Target's in-house agency. His involvement in the Hispanic Business Council has allowed for the growth of D&I efforts across Target. Lesly began her career at Weber Shandwick, where she leads DEI efforts for the Atlanta office.
We are proud alumni and look forward to seeing TLF’s impact on future students for a plethora of years to come. We continue to stay in contact with a handful of TLF Alumni, and volunteer as much as we can by reviewing applications, hosting workshops and attending TLF events. It is crucial to continue the work TLF is doing because we understand the importance of mentorship, challenges minorities face every day and opportunities to uplift our community. 
Please consider supporting the incredible mission of The LAGRANT Foundation to continue shaping the future of bright, diverse leaders for generations to come!
Leo Rodriguez
Creative Project Manager, Target
2016 & 2017 TLF Scholarship Recipient
Lesly Rodriguez
Junior Associate, Weber Shandwick
2018 TLF Scholarship Recipient
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A Message from TLF Board Member Frank X. Shaw
I ran past a friend’s house this week, someone I used to have dinner with / go on walks with regularly, and whom I’ve not seen in a while. I ended my run and called him on my cool down. I love his perspective, which is so different than mine. His parents were not born in the United States, he is in a different industry than mine, he has a wicked sense of humor that surprises me and makes me laugh, but which I would never come up with on my own. And yet we are friends.
I asked him how he was doing, and he wondered if there was a single word that captured the emotions of anger, frustration, helplessness and despair, which I think is a good question, and should have an answer, because currently it is how I feel much of the time (someone will now tell me there is a German word for just this thing, because there is ALWAYS a German word). We commiserated. And when we were done, I thought about the absolute need to influence change, now more than ever.
Like all of you, I see what is going on in the United States and around the world. Videos fill my social media feed; murder of an innocent man by police, and “I can’t breathe” (again) and tear gas and batons and fences. Down in Portland where I lived for 18 years, the Burnside Bridge filled with protestors laying quietly on their backs as the police approached. In the news media, talk of “dominating the battlespace” by the military, where the battlespace is HERE, and tanks and armored vehicles in small towns, for some reason I don’t understand. Over and over, senseless violence against Black and African American people. Over. And Over. Not seen, but equally present is their everyday experience, at work, in stores, on the street, when they are forced to worry about what could happen to them, simply for being in that space. 
Years ago, I participated in a grueling team multi-sport event that had me running the last three miles up a very steep hill. I said after that our team should have been named “Some, but not enough” as in, I had done some hill work, but not enough, some speed work, but not enough, some distance, but not enough for what I aspired to do. At the time, I said I had learned from this experience, but now, I wonder.
Because when it comes to systemic racism I have worked to understand, but not enough. I have donated time and money, but not enough. I have advocated for internal and external change, but not enough. Yes, this is a hard challenge. But I am seeing the challenge, not living it. This is privilege. There is no room for “some” in this equation. Each of us, wherever we are, have the capability of doing more.
Years ago, aghast at what I saw in Ferguson, Missouri, I reached out to a friend and asked what I could do. He pointed me to some resources, but closed with “Look within.” It was the best, and hardest advice I’ve ever gotten. I looked, and didn’t like what I saw. Today, I look again and know…still not enough.
I accept it is okay to feel whatever that German word is that describes the present, but not to the extent it stops me from new action. More of my time and money to the orgs that are making a difference locally and nationally, more agitation internally for more change, more work to broaden my perspective and understanding. “More, but still not enough.” That’s better. 
Frank X. Shaw
Corporate Vice President, Communications | Microsoft
The LAGRANT Foundation Board Member
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A Message from TLF Board Member Kass Sells
I am deeply saddened and angered by recent events in our country. And like many of us I’ve been searching for the right words to say, the right things to do and the right way to make a positive impact with my family, with our WE agency and our people, and in the communities WE Communications serves both here in the U.S. and around the world.
As I watch these events unfold each day I continue to be struck with the question, what can I do to help? 
First and most important, my heart goes out to the family of George Floyd and all the victims whose lives have been taken or damaged by acts of racism and injustice.
Let’s be clear — Black Lives Matter, and we cannot accept unjust killing. The senseless deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and many others reflect deeply ingrained racial prejudice and injustice that still exists in our country today, but we owe it to each other and to our communities to be very clear in condemning these acts of violence.
Over the past several months, throughout this coronavirus pandemic, we’ve often heard and said, “we’re all in this together.” Ironically, that’s never been more true than it is right now. If we are going to fight racism it’s something we all have to do, as individuals and together as communities and as a nation. We must acknowledge our country’s racist past, and understand that together we can build a better future — a future where everyone contributes and feels valued.
As marketing and communications professionals we are wired to create and to act, to build plans, tell stories, and to make a difference through our words and actions. And as LAGRANT Foundation Board members we have an opportunity to take action and make a difference. 
I’ve spent the past few days thinking about what I can do to help. To my fellow communications professionals, I humbly offer the following actionable ideas:
  • Check in with your Black colleagues and employees. Ask what you can do to help and support your co-workers. Prepare yourself to listen a lot more than you speak.
  • Get involved with your organization’s employee resource group (ERG) for people of color. At WE, ours is WE PRISM. If you don’t have one, start one!
  • Connect with your clients. Proactively reach out and counsel your clients to put their money where their mouth is, and to back up statements about D&I with investments in D&I. I’m seeing great examples from brands like MicrosoftLululemon and Netflix. The outstanding responses from IntelGlossier and others should be a model for all of us.
  • Pledge your support and financial commitment to organizations that create opportunities for communicators and marketers of color. I sit on the board of The LAGRANT Foundation, a great organization whose mission is to increase the number of ethnic minorities in the fields of advertising, marketing and public relations by providing scholarships, career & professional development workshops, mentors and internships. Please give to TLF so that they continue doing the important work that needs to be done.
  • Act. Your actions speak louder than your words. The biggest thing your organization can do is to employ more people of color that represent the communities where we live and work. It’s pretty simple: Recruit, Interview and Hire more qualified Black people and people of color. Support more Black-owned businesses. Work with more Black and minority-owned vendors. Make people of color a part of your daily business operations.
  • Work together. The best work and the best relationships have come when people of different backgrounds, races, religions, genders and nationalities come together around a common goal. It’s more than just a seat at the table — it’s a voice at the table.
Personally, I know I need to do more. I need to give more people of color opportunities. I need to do more to celebrate our differences. I need to reach out more, educate myself, ask questions that make me uncomfortable and really listen to the hard answers. Right now I’m doing a lot of listening and learning. We’re having hard conversations, but ones that need to take place. I’m committed to trying, to getting started and to doing whatever I can do, and then more.
We can all learn, and we can all do better. Let’s get there and #standtogether.
Kass Sells
Global COO, President International | WE Communications
The LAGRANT Foundation Board Member
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A Message From TLF Board Member Jim Weiss
Recent events show us that racial divisions in this country are as deep and troubling as ever in history. Last week, I shared my solidarity with W2O employees, standing with all our staff to say that racism and violence cannot be tolerated in any form.
Over the past few days, I have reflected more deeply on what more we can do, as it is clear to me that our industry has not done enough. Our businesses rely on creative and innovative people. We need inclusion and diversity if we are to change, grow and transform. We are not yet inclusive enough to spur the kind of diversity needed to thrive like we could. 
We cannot sit idly and complacently by in this situation. I call on all of us, my firm included, to immediately take action and sustain a commitment to:
  • Inspire the next generation of people of color to work in our business. Standard recruiting from communications and journalism schools is not enough. We will cast a wider net and build more bridges with historically black universities, among others. W2O has a unique partnership with Syracuse University, and we are committed to replicating this work with other universities. This includes creating and implementing the right curriculum that will prepare our future workforce to hit the ground running the day we hire them.
  • Retain and advance diverse talent for the long term. We will take concrete actions to set diversity targets and share diversity metrics. We will hold leaders accountable and reward them when they make progress. We will make sure all employees feel respected and valued, and that they have an equal opportunity to grow and advance. We will make our allyship real, immediately increasing our commitment to mentorship and sponsorship to ensure people of color have a sustainable career trajectory.
  • Listen to Employee Resource Groups and employees of color. ERGs are a powerful community for companies to drive collaboration and co-creation in critical areas of growth and accountability. At W2O, our Diversity and Inclusion ERG, W2O Fusion, has never been more important than right now. This group of committed, passionate professionals has done as much, or more, than I and other leaders to ensure we’re making a positive impact during these challenging times. 
We will reinforce the importance of partnerships with groups such as The LAGRANT Foundation to champion these efforts. We will continue to work together to improve our profession across agencies and companies, with the broader goal of addressing systemic racism. That is one way we can change ourselves to change society.
Those in our profession know how to listen, learn and engage. We will rededicate ourselves to the important mission of this Foundation, which has done so much good for so many years. 
In Solidarity and Action,
Jim Weiss
Founder & CEO, W2O
The LAGRANT Foundation Board Member
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A Message From TLF Board Member Juan Carlos Molleda
A Message From TLF Board Member Juan-Carlos Molleda, Ph.D.

The events of the last week have reminded me about the reasons I came to this country and became a U.S. citizen. Throughout history, people here have united to denounce injustice and show solidarity with those who suffer. It is why I chose to make the United States my home.
I feel the need to say his name. Although we do not all face the same obstacles as George Floyd and other victims of police brutality have, an oppressive system serves none of us. This is a crucial time in our society’s evolution, and despite all the stress and anxiety we are already facing, now is the time to stand up and be part of the change. To show that we stand together.
Despite the tragic and extreme events we have been witnessing and experiencing, as a professional community we must reaffirm our commitment to social justice and reject racism and violence. At the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication, for instance, we have a responsibility to make a difference in the lives of our undergraduate and graduate students, who will go on to improve this imperfect society as journalists and communicators. When it comes to The LAGRANT Foundation, TLF continues its mission of supporting and fostering the next generation of diverse talent in advertising, marketing, and public relations, who may one day become the leaders of these industries.
All of us must work harder — and with renewed sense of urgency — to educate ourselves and engage one another on the historic context of last week’s and similar events, and the role of news and other media and communication organizations in sustaining or challenging entrenched racism.
On top of the social unrest, we are sharing the distress of an ongoing pandemic. But as we have seen it can also bring out the best in us and crystalize our sense of purpose.
Yes, we are hurting from the disturbing events of the last week, yet we need to find purpose and hope. We all must continue to read and study, listen better, and stand up against racism and violence.
We are a professional community built on values. This is what keeps us together. We may be physically distant, but we remain socially cohesive. In the case of my academic institution, our mission is to educate the next generation of professionals and scholars who will change our increasingly uncertain, fragile, and polarized world. We need that next generation — and your support — more than ever before.
Onward together,
Juan-Carlos Molleda, Ph.D.
Edwin L. Artzt Dean and Professor, School of Journalism and Communication
University of Oregon
The LAGRANT Foundation Board Member
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5 Things I Learned at Waste Management as the Intern

By Abigail Mendoza

This article was originally featured on 
Waste Management:

I spent the spring semester of 2017 applying left and right to internships, trying to build my portfolio and get my name out. I would apply to 1-3 internships a week every week, desperate to leave my subpar hostessing job at your local Houston sushi restaurant. Hostessing paid the bills, but honestly, I dreaded going to work. I always dreamed of what else I could be doing and I knew I was capable of more than food service like I’ve been doing since I was 16. I’m currently a 21-year-old senior at the University of Houston, studying Integrated Communications and minoring in Psychology. I aspire to be a creative director at an advertising agency one day, as my passion lies in being a leader and being the eye for art and aesthetics. After receiving news of acceptance into Waste Management, I was ecstatic because I could finally start a real desk job! It was a weird thing to get excited about, according to my friends. Was I really getting excited about a temporary 9 to 5 desk job? Indeed, I was. I was just supposed to stay for the summer, alongside my co-intern, Evan Neuhoff, but we were extended the opportunity to stay until December. So, what are the dirty details I uncovered while working at Waste Management?

1. We Aren’t Just a Trash Company

Since working here, I realized that there were so many creative opportunities here for me and creative projects that I could work on. It wasn’t just centered on waste, but also on recycling and sustainability. These topics really appealed to me because I consider myself a rather “green” person, trying to live as green and healthy a life to the best of my ability. It’s also been an interesting experience, especially since I’m currently in a corporate environment which people would assume isn’t really on the creative side. I’ve worked on numerous projects such as Facebook Live, weekly articles, and creative projects.

2. Corporate Is Full of Opportunity

Just like any other job, if you don’t make the most out of it, you’ll probably hate it. I’ve had friends ask me if I’m bored, and I tell them that I always have something to do, and am always busy. The corporate environment is something I don’t mind, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to explore what I like and what I don’t like for my future career. I can also safely say that a lot of surprises have hit me while working here. Some memorable moments of my time here would include the Facebook Live projects, visiting a landfill and Material Recycling Facility (MRF), delivering a diversity presentation in front of all the human resources vice presidents, and being able to go to New York with our President and CEO, Jim Fish for his Squawk Box appearance.

3. It’s a LOT of Work

“Intern” seems like a word associated with getting all the dirty work that your boss just doesn’t want to do and images of a student in a loosely-fitted suit struggling to carry coffee for the staff also comes to mind. But in reality, the work that I do here plays a big part in main operations and projects that my department works on for the company. I like feeling like a part of the team, and not just “the intern”. I’ve learned a lot about time management and handling stress. I’m currently taking 5 classes, take part in campus organizations, and balance the work and social requirements in my sorority along with working this job 2 to 3 times a week. I’ve learned to say “no” when I know my workload is overflowing and knowing it’s okay. I used to have a huge problem taking on so much and constantly being overwhelmed. It’s better to create good content than create a lot of subpar content that I know can be better.

4. Technology of the Future

One of the things that shocked me during my time here is the unique use of technology. I didn’t know that a company like Waste Management could utilize society’s food waste and turn it into energy. Other examples are how many of our trucks are powered by compressed natural gas, and all the technology in our neat trucks. It got me thinking that a lot goes into the waste industry and people tend to overlook that. It’s interesting once you know more about all that goes into the industry.

5. Recycling is Important!

If it’s one really big thing I learned working here at Waste Management, it’s that recycling is extremely important. I was never huge on recycling, but now I try to recycle as much as I can. I created a recycling quiz, and learned more about recycling than in all my 21 years of living. I didn’t know you couldn’t recycle plastic bags via curbside recycling programs—take them back to the grocery store instead! And when I tell my friends, they didn’t know either.

I’ve learned a lot my past few months here at Waste Management. I’ve made some friends, made connections, and learned a side of communications I never knew would provide me so many opportunities. The work environment is relaxed and not completely hectic, the people are all-around very kind, and there’s always something to do. I’m glad I was given this experience because it gave me that first push of confidence into the adult life which I’ve been scared and anxious to approach since starting college.

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Coming Together When It Matters the Most

(L-R) TLF Alumna 
Kendra Croft, Diana Pinedo and Saata Bangura

In a year full of socio-political divisiveness and trauma, the theme of this year’s ADCOLOR event, “Come Together,” could not have been more necessary or palpable. 

From September 18-19, more than 700 professionals in the advertising, communications, ad tech and entertainment industries rallied together to champion over diversity and inclusion at the 11th annual ADCOLOR Conference. Tiffany Warren, Senior Vice President, Chief Diversity Officer at Omnicom Group and Founder & President at ADCOLOR, has been a change agent her entire career. What started off as a small idea over a decade ago has exponentially grown into a massive movement and platform that has helped to form the next generation of diverse creators and content generators of color. This movement celebrates those who have paved the way beforehand, and awards the incredible ways that professionals of color are helping the needle to continue moving forward. 

ADCOLOR is unique in the sense that when one attends, there is a built-in sense of community from day one – almost like a family reunion. Throughout the conference, there was a wide gamut of voices that covered topics and content that attendees could engage with and share through social media channels using the #ComeTogether hashtag. Speakers, panelists and honorees ranging from Snoop Dogg, Don Lemon and Bozoma Saint John to DeRay Mckesson, Elaine Welteroth, Morgan DeBaun and Jesse Williams, dove into a variety of topics. These topics included cultural and personal branding, the emotional power of virtual reality, the interconnectivity of social media and what being “woke” really means.

Here are my top six takeaways from ADCOLOR 2017:

1. Build your tribe. It is important to not only build your community, but also engage with it. Mentors, advisors, friends, colleagues, etc. are the ones who will help you guide and navigate the peaks and valleys of your career. Consider this combination of folks your own personal Board of Directors. Find the people who you can trust to give you honest and constructive feedback, be a good soundboard, hold you accountable and inspire you along your journey. Ultimately, the goal is to build a mutually beneficial relationship over the course of time.
2. We are all more connected than you think. In the digital world we live in, we are now more connected than ever. During the ADCOLOR screening of Viacom’s Culture of Proximity documentary, this was made very clear. Culturally, there are only a few degrees of separation in many cases. The silver lining is that this can be used to our advantage. We, as a culture, can use this proximity to promote conversation, action and change within the world around us – even with people we may not know on a personal level, but who we are connected to in some way. We all have our own individual platforms and a network of people in our proximity to help amplify that for good.
3. The time for silence is not now. There are so many platforms to use to sound off on what's important to you. Stand up for what you believe in, and don't be afraid to have brave, bold conversations that may be uncomfortable, but crucial in helping to move the needle forward. In the words of activist Maggie Kuhn, “Speak your mind – even if your voice shakes. When you least expect it, someone may actually listen to what you have to say.”

4. There's a distinct difference between diversity and inclusion. The two are not mutually exclusive. Unfortunately, a lot of organizations think it's okay to just be diverse (or say they are) in order to fill quotas, but don’t actively create strategic initiatives, best practices and platforms to help integrate that diversity. As Trisch L. Smith, Executive Vice President & Managing Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Edelman, so eloquently put it during a panel, "Diversity is inviting people to the party. Inclusion is asking them to dance."
5. Rise up and reach back. This is the underlying current of the ADCOLOR mission. Here are some tactical ways to do just that:

  • Invest in ADCOLOR: volunteer for upcoming events, give feedback to the team, follow @adcolor on social media, and bring a friend to the next ADCOLOR Conference!
  • Recommend speakers for industry panels and lists.
  • Give back through mentorship. 
6. Our differences bring us together. In the words of Dr. Maya Angelou, “We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.” If we are brave enough to truly live out the theme of this year’s conference and talk about our differences as a way to bridge the gap instead of letting our differences divide us, we truly can come together.

About Saata Bangura:
With a Bachelor of Arts degree in studio arts and graphic design from Loyola Marymount University (LMU) and over 10 years of experience in the field, Bangura has been recognized by American Advertising Federation and Graphic Design USA for her work in graphic design and art direction.


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Support TLF by Submitting a Video Entry to Starbucks' UPSTANDERS Challenge!

Help support The LAGRANT Foundation (TLF) win one of 25 grants for $25,000 from the Starbucks Foundation!

The Starbucks UPSTANDERS CHALLENGE is a peer-to-peer social media video contest that provides a platform for nonprofit supporters to share why their nonprofit is an “Upstander” (i.e. a person or organization that acts to make a positive change in the community). Through this challenge TLF supporters can create positive engagement and showcase all of the efforts that TLF provides to ethnic minorities pursuing careers in advertising, marketing and public relations in a short video.
Challenge background: Inspired by Starbucks’ Season 2 Upstanders series, the Starbucks Foundation is excited to highlight and share stories about everyday people/orgs doing extraordinary things across the United States.
How do I contribute?
It takes less than 5 minutes to participate. We each have a unique story to share as to why we support and believe in TLF’s mission. Take your storytelling and creativity expertise to the next level and let others know why you think TLF is an #Upstander!
1. Create a short and captivating video (two minutes or less) that highlights why The LAGRANT Foundation is an “Upstander”. Be creative and use your resources (i.e. GoPro, phone, etc. – be original, have fun and make sure the video is non-produced). Think to yourself “Could this go viral?”
2. Upload your video at http://indi.com/starbucks/upstanders. Please follow challenge instructions to correctly nominate The LAGRANT Foundation. The first 200 eligible entries will receive a $20 Starbucks eGift. An official email confirmation from Indi will be sent when your video entry has been approved for posting, which could take up to 24 hours.
My video was approved! Now what?
• SHARE! SHARE! SHARE! Utilize your social media platforms Facebook/Twitter/Instagram whether personal or business as well as family, friends, coworkers and encourage them to watch, like, retweet, repost and most importantly SHARE the video. The more “Buzz” generated the better!
• Don’t forget to tag TLF on all social media mentions and utilized the Starbucks hashtag #Upstanders when sharing online. TLF will only be sharing approved video entries on its social media platforms.
• Multiple TLF supporters can engage and create separate videos on behalf of the organization. The more entries the higher the possibilities for selection.

Remember, the sooner videos are submitted and approved, the more time you have to generate buzz and share TLF’s efforts with the community. Please visit http://indi.com/starbucks/upstanders to view official contest rules, sample videos and tips on how you can generate online buzz.

NOTE: The contest officially launched on Oct. 10 and will end on Tuesday, October 31, 2017 at 11:59 PM PT with winners announced by Thursday, November 30, 2017. Help TLF continue its efforts to support ethnic minorities and diversify the advertising, marketing and public relations industry of tomorrow. Submit a video entry today!

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TLF 2016 Scholarship Recipient Profile- Leah Shin

My name is Leah Shin and I am a rising sophomore undergraduate student at the University of Washington. I am track to double major in Business Marketing and Information Science with a concentration in Human Computer Interaction, and a minor in Entrepreneurship. My past year I have been currently involved in the Foster School of Business Lavin Honors Entrepreneurship Program where I hope to expand, Literacy for Love, an organization I established that has collected over $55,000 worth of books for English Language Learners and low-income families. Within Foster, I am also a Mentor-In-Training for the Young Executives of Color (YEOC) Program. Through YEOC, we directly mentor high school students across Washington State in professionalism and various business concentrations.

Lastly, this past summer I have been working with T-Mobile’s Diversity & Inclusion team to establish and develop a phone application (Abroaden) to spread diversity and awareness of other’s culture. We are projected to launch our prototype by spring 2017.

The LAGRANT Foundation Scholarship (TLF) has allowed me to dream— to dream my dream of confidently changing the world with the power of business, tech, and design as an Asian-American woman. It was through our conversations and networking with these professionals that fueled an insatiable desire to continue to work hard and do more every day. The friendships I built with the top 41 student scholars and leaders all across the nation had us learning from each other’s projects, experiences, failures, and dreams. I’ve made it my goal, to return to TLF as a professional where students are able to look up to and say, “I can do it too.” Thank you TLF for an experience of a life time and for believing in me.

Leah Shin is a rising sophomore at the University of Washington, majoring in Business Marketing, Entrepreneurship and Information Technology and received TLF's undergraduate scholarship this year.
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TLF 2016 Scholarship Recipient Profile- Hunter C. Durham

Hello, my name is Hunter Durham and I am in my senior year at Palm Beach Atlantic University. I have been passionate about marketing since I arrived at the university and I have worked hard to develop myself as a marketing professional over the past 3 years. I started the first collegiate chapter of the American Marketing Association on campus and have maintained a 3.9 GPA, but what has impacted me the most are the opportunities I have had outside of school. I have worked for major brands including Red Bull, Dell, and currently, Microsoft. Another major outside influence has been The LAGRANT Foundation. After winning the scholarship three times, they have encouraged me to excel, developed me professionally, and inspired me to give back.

My passion for people and my skill in business is what attracted me to the world of marketing. I am interested in product marketing/brand management and want to eventually work my way up the ladder to a CMO position.  After establishing myself in the industry, I plan to return to get my MBA at a top university.  Please feel free to connect with me on Linked In or email me.  

Hunter Durham is a rising senior at Palm Beach Atlantic University, majoring in marketing and received TLF's undergraduate scholarship this year.
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TLF 2016 Scholarship Recipient Profile- Ryan A. Jordan

My name is Ryan Jordan. I am a 2016 graduate of Hampton University and will be attending American University in the fall to pursue my master’s degree in strategic communications (thanks TLF for the graduate scholarship!). While attending Hampton University I played on the championship winning Division I women’s basketball team. I was also one of the founding officers in the first student-run PR agency, a full-time position that allowed me to work with real clients and add experience to my profile. In my senior year, I also interned with the Office of University Relations which gave me the opportunity to work on my writing skills and see public relations in a different way.

My goal after graduating with my master’s is to work at a public relations agency for several years and see if agency life fits me. I would also love to gain experience in-house for a Fortune 500 brand. In my 5-10 year plan I also plan on going back to school and gaining my MBA. Although the communications field is heavily based on creativity, at the end of the day it utilizes business concepts for success. I want to be able to understand the business aspects of my creations and how it affects my company as a whole. Also, by attaining an MBA, I would be a more credible candidate for a leadership positions, and therefore able to create more opportunities for increased ethnic representation within the communications field. 

Ryan A. Jordan is a rising 2016 graduate from Hampton University who will be attending American University in the fall for her master's degree in strategic communications. She received TLF's graduate scholarship this year. 

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TLF 2016 Scholarship Recipient Profile - Alicia Tran

My name is Alicia Tran and I am an undergraduate communications student at the University of California, Santa Barbara. My interest lies in leveraging diverse media channels to promoting social change.
I first became interested in marketing through an internship position at a Los Angeles-based marketing strategy firm. From this experience, I was able to explore marketing as a platform for big ideas. I learned that truly remarkable companies do not in fact sell products; rather, they sell stories. It is therefore the marketer’s responsibility to ensure that these stories work seamlessly and cohesively with consumer values.
The LAGRANT Foundation has provided me with all the resources to tell stories of diversity and social change through connecting me with successful industry professionals who have lived these experiences. Their insight and advice inspires me to think creatively about inclusion in order to disrupt the status quo. In the upcoming months, I plan to divide my time between a nonprofit organization in Philadelphia and a social policy Think Tank in New York City. I aspire to one day work for an organization which helps philanthropists, NGO’s, and social entrepreneurs become more innovative and effective in their brand messaging strategies.

Alicia Tran is a rising junior at University of California, Santa Barbara majoring in communications and received TLF's undergraduate scholarship this year.
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TLF 2016 Scholarship Recipient Profile - Kavita Raval

My name is Kavita Raval and I am a rising senior at the University of Michigan working towards a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies and Political Science. As a 2016 TLF scholarship recipient, I have had the pleasure of meeting and networking with an incredible group of peers and mentors passionate about fostering diversity within the field of communications.  As I prepare to graduate, I am looking forward to developing my TLF relationships and beginning my career in the world of public affairs.

My lifetime goal is to see gender equality as the norm around the world. To transform this vision into a reality, I would like to be a public relations advocate for women’s rights issues ranging from unequal pay to domestic violence awareness. By translating business PR strategies to the nonprofit sector, I want to elicit the same excitement people feel when reading about a campaign to extend maternity leave as they do while watching the launch of an Apple product.

I am encouraged by how The LAGRANT Foundation has opened up many opportunities for minorities like myself interested in the Communications/PR field. It is my desire to positively influence young South Asians to enter into professional fields that are not typically associated with our ethnic background. My friends and I recently launched the #SouthAsianAnd twitter campaign dedicated to cultivating conversations around the multiple talents of South Asians in hopes that it will have a positive impact on younger generations.

Kavita Raval is a rising senior at University of Michigan majoring in communications & political science and received TLF's undergraduate scholarship this year.
529 Comment(s)
TLF 2016 Scholarship Recipient Profile - Landyn Pan

My name is Landyn Pan and I am a junior majoring in PR & advertising at Chapman University in Orange, California. I come from a background of non-profit work in LGBTQ and people of color communities and have a strong love for film and television. In the future, I aim to work in non-profit communications or at an entertainment company while promoting partnerships that benefit society. It is my hope that whatever I do in my career, I will be able to continue improving LGBTQ and people of color communities and providing educational and life opportunities to marginalized youth.

The trip to Atlanta was a fun and educational experience where I was able to meet and connect with students of color and high level executives in the marketing/PR/advertising industry from across the country. Each workshop we attended was beneficial to my career exploration and gaining new professional skills and insights. My mind was opened up to new ideas I hadn’t thought of before. I can’t thank The LAGRANT Foundation (TLF) enough for putting on such an incredible three-day program.

Landyn Pan is a rising junior at Chapman University majoring in public relations & advertising and received TLF's undergraduate scholarship this year.
461 Comment(s)
TLF 2016 Scholarship Recipient Profile - Ana Sabarots

My name is Ana Sabarots. I am a rising junior at the University of Washington in Seattle studying Business Marketing at the Michael G. Foster School of Business. I grew up in Buenos Aires, Argentina, moved to Panama when I was seven, and ultimately settled in the United States when I was 15. My upbringing has shaped much of who I am as a person, and consequently, my career goals. Cultural awareness and the understanding of diversity is something that is engrained in the deepest parts of who I am as an individual. 
Looking to the near future, I am very interested in pursuing a Master’s degree in a subject area related to the marketing and communications fields. My experience thus far has helped me realize that I have a true passion for people. I am particularly interested in the communicative and creative side of business, and enjoy working collaboratively with others while observing the way individuals communicate. I see marketing as a means through which one can influence real change and as a platform to leverage my global vision for a more positive world. Ultimately, I want to establish a successful and motivated career for myself where I am able to apply my skills and unique perspective to create innovative strategies within the field of marketing communications. I can only hope that this career allows me to expand my horizons globally and work on an international level while building valuable, long-lasting relationships with my future co-workers and colleagues.

Ana Sabarots is a rising junior at the University of Washington majoring in business marketing and received TLF's undergraduate scholarship this year.
456 Comment(s)
TLF 2016 Scholarship Recipient Profile - Jade Song

My name is Jade Song and I am a junior undergraduate student at Cornell University. I am currently pursuing a double major in Communication and Information Science, concentrating in User Experience Design and Technology Studies, and two minors, Business and Visual Studies. At Cornell, I am the founder of the Cornell Design Panel, where 200+ students come together to hear from design professionals such as the VP Design of Buzzfeed, the co-President of Operation DEEP, which works to fund and improve rural education in China, and an Operations Team member of Cornell University Sustainable Design, where we oversee project teams working on sustainable projects around the world.
My career endeavors are to be creative and to make people care, whether that be a creative director in advertising, making consumers care, or in social marketing, making the population care about the cause.
Outside of career and academic oriented things, I love to read all genres of books and enjoy photography as a creative outlet, shooting weddings and portraits. In addition, I love to travel with only a camera and a backpack, and have been to twelve countries solo and counting. I want to visit every art museum in the world.
Thanks to The LAGRANT Foundation, I was granted a wonderful opportunity to travel and learn about the various communications fields in all sorts of businesses. I had the chance to meet and connect with so many brilliant professionals and students, and for that I am forever grateful to the wonderful foundation!

Jade Song is a rising junior at the Cornell University double majoring in Communication and Information Science and received TLF's undergraduate scholarship this year.
492 Comment(s)
Diversify Your Internship by Yahnnica Tate

Diversify Your Internship
Internships are the gateway to deciding your career path; they provide you the opportunity to work with experts in your field and offer you the experience and advice that will sculpt your career interest. Each internship varies and it’s important to explore your options and figure out your career path by diversifying your internship.  Here are a couple tips on diversifying your internship to help you in becoming an exceptional professional. 
The art of networking is not difficult, but might be intimidating as an intern. If you set a goal for yourself, you’ll soon be able to extend the conversation past introductions and small talk. The best places that I’ve found to strike up a conversation are in common areas such as the kitchen or the elevator.
Lattes will be your best friend! Coffee dates often eliminate the pressure of feeling like “just an intern” because it’s a casual setting. You want to make sure that when you set up meetings for coffee that you come prepared. I’ve found it useful to bring a notebook and pen to every meeting because you don’t want miss details. Also, researching who you’re meeting with will help you structure your topics of interest and questions.
Taking Advantage of the Experience
Attending workshops has been the most useful tool for me throughout my internship at Weber Shandwick. It’s provided me opportunities to get to know colleagues as well as learning useful tips for career growth and client work. If your company offers workshops, consider it as a benefit to your growth because that means the company cares about your advancement and wants to provide you the tools to do your job better.
Challenging Yourself
Discover what makes you unique and applying that to your work environment. It’s important as an intern that you decide what assets you could bring to the table. As a senior at Hampton University, a Historically Black College University (HBCU) in Hampton, VA, and graduate from Mercer Island High School, I have had the opportunity to be exposed to diverse lifestyles, cultures, religions, and much more. In the summer of 2013 I completed my first internship with a boutique agency in Los Angeles, CA.  During this internship, I’ve successfully managed and secured media coverage for their clients and The LAGRANT Foundation’s annual scholarship reception.
Overall, I believe your internship should be a way for you to apply your knowledge and an excellent forum to grow professional skills that employers seek. What do you think?

Yahnnica Tate is a rising senior at Hampton University pursuing her Bachelor of Arts degree in Strategic Communication. Yahnnica completed her internship with Weber Shandwick Seattle this summer, made possible by a grant from the Scripps Howard Foundation, in partnership with Hampton University's Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communication. 

578 Comment(s)
TLF 2015 Scholarship Recipient Profile - Nathan DeVaughn

I am Nathan DeVaughn.  I am a rising senior at the University of Portland where I am pursuing a Bachelors of Business Administration in Marketing and a Minor in Fine Arts.  My time in college has been amazing as I am fortunate enough to participate in activities such as Varsity track and field, being the cartoonist for the school newspaper, and serving as a role model for a struggling 4th grader at a local elementary school.  I am a driven person with a range of talents from academics to athletics to art.  I want to best use these talents in the real word and I believe TLF and the University of Portland are doing a great job in aiding me in my dreams. 

My ultimate goal is to be a head creative at either a major ad agency or corporation.  My creativity comes inherently from the many experiences I have undergone and being a creative at an industry leading firm is the best way I can flex that muscle.  My opportunities have set me up for success and I plan on capitalizing.

Nathan DeVaughn is a rising senior at the University Portland majoring in marketing and received TLF's undergraduate scholarship this year.
357 Comment(s)
The HBSI Experience by Cosette Haugen

Cosette Haugen

I get uncomfortable when the unread email count surpasses one-hundred and too often my solution is to unceremoniously start deleting with just a half-hearted glance at the subject line. But my inbox purges never include TLF emails, because one such email helped me get the internship of a lifetime:
This summer, Burson-Marsteller will welcome three interns sourced from TLF into the 2015 U.S. HBSI program. Burson-Marsteller will cover housing expenses for the three students selected at a local university dormitory in the city of their choice.
What drove my interest was the company’s promise behind their invitation. Their act of providing housing for summer interns meant they didn’t want anything standing in our way – location and economic background included.
Through my work with various brands this summer, I have seen how public relations firms interact with key influencers with blogger programs and editor kits. I have learned about the pitching process firsthand and have contributed to pro bono campaigns. I have even worked on two start-up companies that could completely disrupt their respective industries. Now I am waist-deep in my final internship project, where my partner in Dallas and I are planning a comprehensive campaign for a first-of-its-kind airline company.
At Burson-Marsteller, we are taught to always be searching for ways to Be More. I hope to bring that mentality to future projects as I enter my senior year and, after that, the professional world. Thank you to TLF and Burson-Marsteller for making opportunities like this possible!

Cosette Haugen is a two-time TLF scholarship recipient and is majoring in marketing, psychology and strategic communications at the University of Minnesota.

581 Comment(s)
My Summer Internship with W20 Group by Andrew Echeguren

Andrew Echeguren

I never thought I would end up in this industry, let alone at a place like W2O Group. My name is Andrew Echeguren and recently I graduated from Occidental College in Los Angeles with a degree in Spanish Literature of all things. Last summer, I spent many hours proofreading long insurance and legal documents in Spanish. It was about as fun as watching paint dry.

This summer, I have had the opportunity to support a team of incredibly creative, intelligent, and motivated people that help bolster the image of brands. My title is Technology Practice Intern, but the position should probably be called Technology Practice Team Member. I say this because here at W2O Group, everything is about collaboration. I am always communicating on one level or another with my colleagues, whether that be via email, on chat, or in person.

As a three sport athlete, I’ve always known that teamwork wins championships. I feel like this principle reigns true at W2O Group. At this company, interns get the opportunity to contribute. We aren’t looked down upon, and our ideas matter. For example, within the first couple of weeks of my experience here I was in a meeting and thought of a social media partnership that we ended up pitching. I felt like I’d already came up with a big hit, basket, or goal for my team. Not bad for someone with his degree in Spanish Literature, right? 

Andrew Echeguren is an alumnus of Occidental College and received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish Literature.

410 Comment(s)
Five Pieces of Advice Every Marketer Should Receive by Hunter Durham*
Over the course of the last month, I got married, moved to Austin, and started my first internship at one of the largest companies in the world: Dell Inc. The first step of any journey is never the most important. What is the most important is what you learn from that first step. As I begin to establish myself as a marketing professional, the knowledge, expertise, and skills that I take away from this internship will direct the path of my career and even my life. I have already met with some of the most talented marketers in the industry in my short time here. Those I have spoken to, including the CMO’s chief of staff and the VP of Brand Governance (or the Brand Police as she unfairly gets called), have given me priceless information to jumpstart my career. The following quotes are my reflections on the top 5 pieces of advice every marketer should receive: 

1. “Marketers must start from a customer perspective.”  – Michelle Daniels, Director of Corporate Brand Identity

This is a core belief rooted in Dell’s philosophy, starting in 1984 when Michael Dell revolutionized the direct sales model. This concept is routinely preached across the marketing industry nowadays, although we often forget to think customer-first when creating a social media strategy or developing sales enablement tools. The bottom line is to always start with the question: how does this benefit the customer?

2. “Marketers must view the sales force as the second customer.” – Michael Marchand, Global Director of Strategy & Corporate Development

As Dell continues to increase the size of its salesforce across the globe, this piece of advice is now more important than ever. There is often a deep disconnect between us – the marketers – and the salesforce; however, both teams rely on one another to succeed. This is why it is important to not only start from a customer perspective, but to then stop and try to understand how an initiative will make a salesperson’s job easier.

3. "Marketers must have a love of learning.” – Ann Lott, Director of CSR Marketing

Today’s business landscape is rapidly changing, and nowhere is this more evident than in the marketing industry. With these changes comes the responsibility to learn, adapt, and implement new marketing elements and techniques in the right way and at the right time. The best marketers are those with an insatiable curiosity to understand how customer behavior and the media landscape are changing in order to adapt, evolve, and capitalize on these advancements. Personally, I think that modern marketers are the smartest people in business (perhaps I’m a little biased).

4. “Marketers must learn to tell a story with numbers.” – Joseph Moke, Senior Manager, Digital Marketing
The number crunchers love to slash marketing’s budget if it cannot definitively prove a positive ROI. As marketers, we are taught to ignore the fallacy that all marketing dollars must lead to revenue because, as already stated, we are the smartest. OK so maybe that’s not always true, and marketers ought to be accountable for their actions. Marketers are excellent storytellers so having the ability to tell stories in the language of our audience is as useful internally as it is externally. So when speaking to a CEO or CFO, make sure you incorporate some numbers into your story to convince them that your marketing investments are paying off.

5. "Marketers must always have a connection with the customers.” – Rajbir Panag, Director of Solutions Marketing, Large Corporations and Public Institutions

Not all salespeople are good marketers, but all marketers need to have the key skill of a salesperson: knowledge of the customer. As previously mentioned, there is often a gap between the two functions. However, every marketer, regardless of the industry they are in, should spend at least a day interacting with customers face-to-face. This enables us to better serve our customers and become more effective marketers.

*Hunter Durham is a two-time TLF scholarship recipient and a marketing major at Palm Beach Atlantic University
321 Comment(s)
My Internship at The LAGRANT Foundation by Vannyda Thach
If I could choose one word to describe my entire internship experience at The LAGRANT Foundation, it would be growth.

Since I began in March 2015, not one day of my internship has gone by where I have not learned something new. Tasks and projects that I had the opportunity to work on allowed me to challenge myself and step out of my comfort zone. I was able take part in a range of work such as pitching to media, outreaching to schools across the U.S., creating graphic design materials, and more.

I especially enjoyed working on TLF’s various career and professional development workshops. From creating the event flyer to promoting it on social media, it was great to see how my contributions helped make the event happen. Outreaching to different schools across the U.S. and inviting students to come to a workshop that may lead to their future job also felt very rewarding. I felt like I was helping out students like me.

I worked closely with Nelly Alonso during my time at TLF, and she has been awesome.  I learned a great amount from her and I am grateful that I was able to work with an expert in the industry. I’ve gained so much knowledge and skills that I can put to use in my future career throughout the past months and cannot thank the TLF team enough for allowing me to be a part of the team.

*Vannyda Thach is a senior public relations student at California State University, Long Beach

355 Comment(s)
My Visit to Burson-Marsteller and the HBSI Program

My visit to Burson-Marsteller’s Santa Monica, Calif. office for its recruitment program was incredible. It was an honor to be in the office of one of the top public relations firms in the country.
I had the honor to talk to Client Executive Anne Russell and Human Resource and Recruiting Coordinator Kalee Bodey. Both of them were really nice and gave me some advice on how to get better within my career. They said that if I ever need anything to contact them. The rest of the staff was really nice and very professional.
Bodey started the program by talking about the application process. The applications have to apply online along with attaching a resume, cover letter, school transcripts and write a press release about how they got the internship if they were hired.

Other employees talked about their experience as former interns and employees of Burson-Marsteller. They’ve talked their job descriptions, working with clients and took questions for the students who attended the recruitment program.
One thing that stood out to me during the panel discussion was they’ve talked about how they are best friends outside of work. I would like to work at a place where I am able to have a chance to build a relationship with.
Burson-Marsteller is the ideal agency that I would like to work for. Even if I do not get an opportunity to intern with this company, it feels good to know that I could have that connection with one of the top public relation companies in the nation.

*Anthony Hodge is a senior public relations major attending California State University, Long Beach and former intern of TLF.
636 Comment(s)
My Internship with the Herbalife Family Foundation by Kimberly Roussell
Working with Herbalife Family Foundation (HFF) was an invaluable experience. I learned so much from the women I worked with. This was my first step into the corporate environment, and it taught me how to be assertive while also professional. The ladies at HFF supported me and made me feel like I was part of the team from day one.
During the course of the internship, I worked on fundraising for an annual gala. The proceeds from which go toward over 120,000 kids in various HFF programs. It was great to be apart of that and to be able to contribute in some capacity. I worked closely with the Executive Director to create solicitation letters asking for donations for the live auction. Writing those letters not only strengthened my writing skills, but also taught me to write persuasively. I also created an official database for auction items, contacted luxury donors directly and helped to secure donations for the event.
My time at HFF showed me all the work and strategizing that goes into working with a global nonprofit, and taught me valuable skills I will use in my future career path. That being said, my internship is something I will never forget and am extremely grateful for the opportunity to have been apart of the HFF team. 

*Kimberly Roussell is a senior public relations student attending California State University, Long Beach.

531 Comment(s)
ADCOLOR 2014 by Amber Jackson*
Life changing doesn’t even begin to describe my experience as a 2014 AdColor Future. Yes a fully paid trip to sunny Los Angeles, CA was great but the real highlights of the AdColor Future’s Program came from the week long experience.

The opportunity to learn and bond with forty of the top emerging multicultural professionals in the communications industry was enlightening. Their stories and advice gave me inspiration to apply to my current job and my growing career.

I had access and exposure to some of the most successful, senior level executives in the industry. Often inaccessible, I had the opportunity to network and set into motion the beginnings of new opportunities, partnerships, mentorships and more.

Education was also integral to the AdColor Future’s experience. Through the efficacy training I learned how to navigate industry issues faced by multicultural talent and forward my career through network building. Attending the conference gave me insight into some of the best work, insights and people in communications.

The most exciting experience for me was winning the first ever AdColor Futures’ case study competition and speaking at the AdColor Futures Speak Out panel at the  conference. Through this opportunity I had the chance to share the multicultural millenial’s point of view of advertising and the future of the industry.

Finishing the week with the award show and after party celebration was an unforgettable experience. Both events were formal, glamorous and unlike any event I’ve attended during my time in the advertising industry. Following that week, I came back to New York City and my job motivated and refreshed. I took the chance to share my experience back with my agency and specifically how diversity efforts could be increased internally and externally.  Since then I’ve been invited to join the agency’s new diversity council.

I’m excited to continue the AdColor future motto Rising Up. Reach Back. Through my own personal efforts, I plan to assist in the goal to make communications a more inclusive industry.

*Amber Jackson is a 2014 graduate scholarship recipient and is currently pursing her Master's degree in Branding & Integrated Communication at CCNY.
281 Comment(s)
ADCOLOR 2014 by Kendra Croft*

We learn from the past, to plan for the present, and prepare for the future. ADCOLOR® did all of that and more in less than one week. This year I was honored to be a member of the ADCOLOR® Futures 2014 class.  Attending ADCOLOR® as a Future gave me a unique experience that exceeded my wildest imagination. At our opening dinner, ADCOLOR® Founder, Tiffany R. Warren approached me and said, “you all are the real celebrities this weekend.” At the time I just shook it off, because all I could think was “Who would want to meet me with Michael B. Jordan in the room?”

 We stared off the week by working on, and presenting our case study. It was a brand new experience for me, as a student, to work with young professionals who are already in the industry. Not only did we all have to coordinate times for meetings and tasks, but we had to do this all while being spread around the country. The case study project allowed us to come together at an early start. As a group, we then became even closer by going through efficacy training together. As ADCOLOR® Futures we recognized that we all came from different parts of life with different perspectives.  Our efficacy training taught us how to be stronger leaders when working with diverse groups such as ourselves.

The highlight of my weekend was the conference. Every panel gave insights into a new and different form of diversity in advertising. Diversity of thought, physicality, and perspective were all thoroughly analyzed and presented in the conference. I was especially excited by the closing presentation of No.2.66 (no-to-sixty-six). The No.2.66 campaign was launched at ADCOLOR® to combat the shockingly low representation of African Americans in the creative fields The entire campaign lies on the fact that “At the current rate of hiring, true equality will not be realized in the advertising industry until 2079.” It was at that moment that I was finally able to tell myself, “You will enter the advertising industry, and you will enter as a creative!”

My entire ADCOLOR® experience came full circle at the awards show after party. I had finally built up the nerve to talk to a personal inspiration of mine, Bozoma St. John. I had been admiring her groundbreaking success since the 2013 ADCOLOR® Conference, and this after party was my last chance to tell her what an inspiration she has been. So, the minute she took a break from “breaking it down” on the dance floor I was able to tell her “thank you for being an inspiration.” She ended my night by telling me, “No, thank you! I have been looking forward to meeting the ADCOLOR ® Futures this whole weekend. You all are the real inspiration and the real celebrities.”

Kendra Croft is a two-time TLF scholarship recipient and is majoring in advertising at the University of Texas, Austin

258 Comment(s)
ADCOLOR 2014 by Steven Bram

Last year, I was introduced to the world of ADCOLOR through The LAGRANT Foundation. The 2013 ADCOLOR Conference and Awards show was an eye opening experience that left me really motivated and inspired. I was so inspired that I applied for the ADCOLOR Futures Program in 2014. This year, the Futures Program was comprised of a class of 30 students and young professionals in PR, advertising, marketing and media. All are very motivated, bright and successful individuals from all over the country.
ADCOLOR broadened our network beyond our current cities and introduced us to industry professionals at top companies and various levels. Being selected for this program meant a lot to me. Not only did ADCOLOR give me the opportunity to represent the Latino PR community, but it was my first time openly representing the LGBT community. The week of events have instilled pride in me for who I am and increased my interest in becoming even more involved in my communities.
During the five days I spent with my fellow Futures, I got to know them on both a professional and personal level. I can tell you that my fellow Futures and I are a determined bunch. We are determined to continue to move the diversity momentum moving forward and be change agents to better our industries while leading the way for others to follow. We learned so much from each other and made connections and friendships that I know for certain, will last a lifetime.

(L - R) TLF alumni and 2014 ADCOLOR FUTURES Danielle English, Amber Jackson,
Kendra Croft and Steven Bram


*Steven Bram is an alumna from TLF's scholarship program and is a Senior Associate at Roll Global.

274 Comment(s)
My Internship with Nordstrom by Douglas Ta'a*

My name is Douglas Ta’a and I am a recent graduate from the University of Washington, with a degree in Business Administration with a focus in Information Systems & Marketing.  This summer I’ve had the opportunity to intern with Nordstrom through the Buying & Planning corporate internship. This summer I’ve supported the Men’s Tailored, and worked very closely with the Buyers, Assistant Buyers, and Buy Planners to assist them in their daily business decisions. Last year, I was selected as a 2013- 2014 LAGRANT Scholarship recipient, and had an opportunity to meet people at Nordstrom at a corporate visit. Since then, I have kept in contact with them and they recommended that I apply to the Nordstrom Merchandising Group Corporate Internship. 

My summer experience at Nordstrom has been fantastic! I have always had a deep interest in fashion, but never knew what career opportunities existed within that industry. The Nordstrom Internship Team planned out great events for us throughout my internship. I’ve met the Nordstrom family, heard from corporate leaders from different divisions within the company and have gone on many tours of the company! I have really been exposed to all facets of the company and the endless career opportunities that exist at Nordstrom. As an intern, I have had the opportunity to take on projects and make real business decisions that will have an impact on the company. That responsibility has challenged my way of thinking and work ethic in a positive way. I have learned so much and motivated to continue a career with Nordstrom. If it wasn’t for TLF, I would have not been able to make those initial connections that would lead me this internship. The LAGRANT Foundation does a great job at connecting students with the right people to help them reach their goals. I am excited to see where this internship will lead me and what my next challenge will be. Thank you Nordstrom and TLF for such an awesome opportunity!

*Douglas Ta'a is an alumna of the University of Washington and received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Marketing and Information Systems. Doug received TLF's scholarship in 2013.

303 Comment(s)
My Internship at Sabre - A Life Changing Opportunity by D'Andrea Willis

In a little over two months, I’ve entered an industry with the ultimate potential to contribute to my professional and personal growth.  One week after gaining my B.A in Public Relations from UTArlington, I began a summer internship at Sabre Corporation with the help of The LAGRANT Foundation (TLF).  During this time, I participated in an intern case competition tasked with building a business case for an innovative app idea.  I attended executive forums featuring intimate conversations with the CFO, CMO, and even the CEO!  I got an inside look into Sabre Labs, our technology incubator, where a small team works daily to discover the next technology trend that could change the future of travel.  

There were endless networking opportunities including hackathons and world cup watch parties. However, what I found most motivating was the opportunity for career growth within Sabre. I worked on the corporate communications team drafting press releases, writing blogs, and even creating tweets.  I feel blessed to say that my internship turned into a full-time position within the corporate communications team.  The LAGRANT Foundation played a huge role in creating the first advance towards my career.  TLF helped me from beginning to end. In addition to helping me through the application process, they checked on me to ensure that I was having the most positive experience possible during my internship.  Therefore, when I received a full-time position, I only saw fit that I show TLF my gratitude for their part in my recent success. The panic that comes with being a recent college graduate can be discouraging however; the Foundation was instrumental in providing me the support and resources I needed to feel confident in advancing my career.  Thank you TLF for fostering this life-changing opportunity.

*D'Andrea Willis is an alumna of the University of Texas, Arlington and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Relations.

246 Comment(s)
From Fellowship to Full-Time by Samra Mengitsu

My last week as a fellow at Burson has been a busy one. I have continued working on technology accounts as well as helping with two proposals to new companies. New business acquisition is one aspect of agency work that I had yet to see before this week so I’m very glad that I got to experience pitching and proposal writing before my fellowship term came to an end.
Today, the last day of the Harold Burson Fellowship, I am happy to announce that I have received a full time job offer! I will be staying in the San Francisco office as a Client Staff Assistant in the Corporate Practice. When I started this journey as a Harold Burson Fellow I did not anticipate that I would love working in public relations so much and that this agency would be such a good culture fit for me. I am overjoyed that they want to keep me here and that this has all fallen into place so seamlessly.
I am going to Seattle next week to collect the rest of my belongings and to sell my car – then I am back in San Francisco for my first official day on April 14th! A big thank you to Kim Hunter, Ericka Iniguez and all of the people at The LAGRANT Foundation for giving me this life changing opportunity! I am so incredibly grateful for what LAGRANT does and I want be involved with the foundation for years to come.

*Samra Mengitsu is a 2014 Harold Burson Fellow and an alumna of the University of Washington

227 Comment(s)
Week Three As A Harold Burson Fellow by Samra Mengitsu

On Monday I participated in a technology practice meeting and in the meeting a senior associated stated, “There is no such thing as multi-tasking – there is only task-switching”. This idea really resonated with me and set the tone for the rest of my week in the office. This has been the most hectic week at Burson yet and I have had to learn (quickly) how to prioritize different projects and how to speak with supervisors about deadlines. I have come to realize that you can only do one thing at a time and it is unwise to take on more than you can handle. As an intern or junior person in a company it can be very intimidating to tell a manager that you already have a lot of work and cannot realistically take on their project that day – but my colleagues at Burson have been showing me how to negotiate deadlines in a tactful way.

This week I have learned how to focus on one project at a time without being distracted by all of the requests and emails that are coming in. My supervisor, Kathryn, explained to me that I am being asked to do so many projects because people have heard that I am doing a good job – so that was very encouraging! I am enjoying the fast pace of PR at Burson and I appreciate that I am at an agency that is pushing me to work hard. I have learned so much by being here and by being around the incredibly smart people who work here.

This fellowship experience has shown me that I do want to work for a company that will challenge me and help me develop my skills. Next week will be the last week of my fellowship and during that time I will be interviewing for an entry level position in the corporate practice. I am very excited about this opportunity and hope that Burson is able to hire me! 

Samra Mengitsu is a Harold Burson Fellow at the agency's San Francisco office and is an alum of the University of Washington. 

245 Comment(s)
When A Billion Isn't Enough by Givon Forbes*

All good things must come to an end so I understood my time at Burson-Marsteller (BM) had to finish eventually. Yet my last week has come and I’m still not quite ready to say goodbye. I have spent considerable time trying to devise ways to convey my full appreciation for having been afforded this Harold Burson Fellowship experience. Unfortunately, it has become clear that nothing I do that will be sufficient enough. There are too many people to thank and too little time.

It sounds impossible, but my four weeks have felt like four years—in a good way. I have been exposed to both the foundational and higher level strategic functionalities of a global firm. I have participated on projects with small, growing firms as well as the most recognizable brands in the world. I have collaborated with talented, eager young executives and seasoned, experienced industry veterans. This has all happened in less than 30 days.
The insight gained has been invaluable and is directly applicable to my professional future, regardless of where my career takes me. I didn’t know what this experience would entail, but it is safe to say that my fellowship has exceeded even the most optimistic expectations.
There are so many people who helped to make this such a memorable journey for me, from the incredible patience of Ericka Iniguez at the LAGRANT Foundation to the trip sponsorship from Mr. Albert Sweets (iSTEMS) to the helpful guidance of Danielle Chase (the 1st LAGRANT Fellow) to the unbelievable support of Stephanie McGuane and Eric Benderoff (My BM Chicago managers). Much more people should be named and thanked individually for their contributions to my unforgettable experience, but that would take at least a billion words and this is a time when a billion isn’t enough.

Givon Forbes is a Harold Burson Fellow who completed his fellowship at the Burson-Marsteller Chicago office. He is currently a graduate student attending Bowie State University.

211 Comment(s)
My First Week at Burson-Marsteller by Samra Mengitsu

My first week at Burson Marsteller SF has been absolutely wonderful. I arrived last Friday to settle in and unpack before my first day on Monday, March 10th. I am living in Berkeley, in an apartment behind my aunt’s Ethiopian restaurant, and commuting into San Francisco every day. Although the commute is lengthy, walking around the Bay Area and taking public transportation has given me the opportunity to meet people and get a sense of what the different neighborhoods are like.

The office has been extremely warm and friendly. I had a welcome banner, balloon, and ‘lucky bamboo’ plant waiting for me in my cubicle on the first day! While starting a new job or internship can often be intimidating, I can tell everyone is going out of their way to make me feel welcome and help out whenever they can.

I have been able to silently sit in on two client meetings this week and have also been working on a research project – so I have definitely been keeping busy. My manager, Kathryn, has been very helpful in facilitating meetings with people in every practice so I get a well-rounded idea of everything Burson Marsteller does. Overall, this has been a great week. My goal for next week: join the 24 Hour Fitness adjacent to the office!

*Samra Mengitsu is a Harold Burson Fellow and an alumna of the University of Washington
250 Comment(s)
My Second Week in the Second City by Givon Forbes

As Dan Quayle once said, “It is wonderful to be here in the great state of Chicago.” I wholeheartedly agree….with part of his statement anyways. Although Chicago technically does not qualify as one of America’s 50 states, it may as well be. Chicagoland offers a different culture, historical relevance, cuisine, architectural layout-- basically its own unique twist on everything.  However, one of its best features is the Burson-Marsteller Chicago office.  Being afforded the opportunity to work alongside the most talented, seasoned, and friendliest people in communications is proving to be a truly memorable experience.

I was fortunate to have experienced several firsts during my second week in the Second City; first Cross-Agency Briefing, first Content Factory, first Messaging Session Planning, and first time trekking to work through 4 inches of heavy snow. I have been included in two different internal groups within the organization which has allowed me to witness how teams collaborate across practices, companies, and even states. These collaborative groups require impressive strategy in order to effectively operate projects and manage accounts. Participating on these teams has provided motivation to quickly advance my skillset and increase my knowledge base so that I can be a helpful team member.

Burson-Marsteller is a global firm with a wide range of clients so it engages in differentiated communications activities to service the diverse needs. My managers have ensured that I will observe as much as possible of the entire Burson operation during my time here. This has allowed every day to be a new learning experience and virtually guaranteed that I will continue to enjoy new “firsts” throughout my fellowship here in the Second City. 

*Givon Forbes is a Harold Burson Fellow and is currently a graduate student at Bowie State University
210 Comment(s)
Welcome to Chicago! by Givon Forbes

I received quite the welcome during the first week of my Harold Burson Fellowship. Upon arriving in Chicago, I was greeted with below zero temperatures, falling snow, and authentic wind gusts from the Windy City. It was almost as if the city wanted me to receive the full Chicago experience as soon as possible.

The first day of my fellowship at the Chicago office of Burson-Marsteller began with equal energy. I felt pretty special after being shown my work area, which had been prepared in advance with my own phone extension, name plate, and welcome package. Next, I was immediately included in a few brainstorming sessions then introduced to several associates, managers, and directors. It was both exciting and intimidating.

The Burson team was experienced, talented, and worked with the most recognizable companies around the world. Yet everyone that I had the opportunity to meet was extremely friendly and uncharacteristically concerned with my comfort level. My on-site internship coordinator, as well as my director, wanted to ensure that this month long experience would be both meaningful and memorable. Before the week was over I had already worked on four different major client accounts and attended several team strategy and status meetings.

I already have several more assignments, projects, and meetings scheduled for next week. So the second week of my March adventure with Burston-Marsteller promises to be equally fun and exciting.


*Givon Forbes is one of the 2014 Harold Burson Fellows and is working in the Chicago Burson-Marsteller office. Givon is a graduate student at Bowie State University.


537 Comment(s)
My Experience as a TLF Scholarship Recipient by Stacia Doss
My knowledge about The LAGRANT Foundation came from an unexpected place. While I currently attend graduate school at DePaul University, I learned about this scholarship from a posting on my undergraduate university’s website…the college from which I graduated three years ago! It was one of the best opportunities I could have stumbled upon, and I could not be any more grateful for it. From the initial application process to the awarding of the scholarship—and everything in between, I have learned so much about my goals and how to make them a reality though mentors through TLF.
The application process helped me realize how passionate I am about communications and public relations, but also my personal contribution to increase minority representation and enthusiasm amongst others in the field. I was initially very excited upon finding out that I was chosen as a recipient for the scholarship, but the elation increased when I met with fellow recipients in New York a couple months later. I had the chance to network with people in important leadership roles from communications positions at Verizon Wireless, Waggener Edstrom Worldwide, Ketchum and many more in between. It was truly an honor. Having the opportunity to listen to their individual stories of success as well as advice helped me step back and really look closer at my personal goals. No matter the company or organization, something that echoed from nearly every speaker throughout each event and workshop was “stay true to who you are.” It helped me realize that the best way of reaching my goals as a public relations professional is to never compromise myself and keep that belief and passion for what I do.
My connection with The LAGRANT Foundation will truly be a lifelong one. The communication did not end with the weekend in New York. Through social media and email, I am able to keep up with events and opportunities that come my way through TLF sponsors. I have maintained contact with fellow scholarship recipients, and I plan to continue correspondence with TLF so that I may one day be a mentor to future recipients.

*Stacia Doss is a graduate student pursuing her Master of Art degree in Advertising and Public Relations at DePaul University. Stacia is a 2013 TLF scholarship recipient and was selected as one of the Alfred Fleishman Diversity Fellows.
499 Comment(s)
My Experience as a TLF Scholarship Recipient by Hunter Durham*
TLF's scholarship recipient program was such an honor to be a part of.  I am just beginning my career in Marketing as a college freshman.  At first I was overwhelmed by all of the experience and expertise of the people that surrounded me.  TLF did not waste any time immersing us into the culture of marketing.  The welcome dinner was a great opportunity to speak with individuals, such as President of the Microsoft Account Worldwide and Agency Founder of Waggener Edstrom Worldwide, Pam Edstrom, who has established herself in the industry.   Vice President of Corporate Communications at Verizon Wireless Torod Neptune told us that night to not sacrifice our values in order to climb the corporate ladder. I will use that advice throughout college and my career.  The next day at Ketchum was truly an eye-opening experience into the PR industry. 

Before the TLF program I had not thought about going into the PR industry, but after hearing and speaking with the people at Ketchum, the PR industry is definitely a viable option for me.  I learned that PR is not all about the media and news agency.  All the new technology in the world has influenced and changed the PR industry for the better.  Ketchum also gave the undergraduate students valuable information on how to market ourselves. A person has to be able to market themselves in any industry that they want to get into- so this is an important skill that I will have to use in other scholarship applications, job interviews, and networking opportunities. 

The last part of the TLF scholarship experience was the awards ceremony, which I found out was actually a huge networking opportunity.  The money was great, but the influential people I talked with will stay with me far longer than the money I received.   I spoke with associates of Cohn and Wolfe who encouraged me to apply for an internship with them and spoke to the Senior Partner & CEO of Ketchum, Rob Flaherty.  I would have never met any of these people or had any of these experiences if it was not for TLF and all the companies and individuals who support them.  It was truly an amazing experience and I look forward to applying again next year.  

*Hunter Durham is an undergraduate marketing student attending Palm Beach Atlantic University and a first-time recipient of TLF's scholarship.
217 Comment(s)
TLF Scholarship Experience by Cindy Chow*

It’s been a few months since the TLF scholarship reception and career development workshop, but the connection to the organization remains as strong as ever. TLF has continued to show it wants to offer lifelong support as it has sought our opinions on how it can best serve us and actively promotes relevant career opportunities to us. I also had the opportunity to meet some talented people in New York, and can’t wait to catch up with the fellow Chicagoans after I return to the city and read more about the other recipients in the TLF newsletter.

It is a great network and one I am thankful to have as I return to school this fall as a second year MBA at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. I worked for four years as a marketing consultant prior to school, and had a wonderful experience this past summer interning at The Walt Disney Company. I am now focused on building a career in marketing or corporate strategy in the Travel/Hospitality industry that I am passionate about. At school, I am preparing myself by concentrating on Marketing Management and General Management, and also serve as a co-chair of the Travel, Transportation, & Hospitality group; Food, Environment, Agribusiness, & Development group, and OUTreach. It will be a busy and fun year ahead, and I look forward to it!

*Cindy Chow is an MBA candidate at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business

379 Comment(s)
My TLF experience by D'Andre Young*
I was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia and at an early age I developed a passion for the communications field. That first started in writing and my passion for journalism. I was always told I’d be a great broadcast journalist. In my senior year of high school, I received a full-tuition leadership scholarship from the Posse Foundation to attend Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts.

With this I came to Brandeis, with a “Posse” of nine other friends from Atlanta. Together we helped each other academically and socially adapt to the difference of the Northeastern culture from Atlanta. It was my Posse that stimulated my passion for communications and encouraged me to create my major in communications, because Brandeis doesn’t offer the study. With this I was steadfast in finding mentors in the communications field who lead me to finding out about TLF.
My career goals and aspirations have changed over the years; from me wanting to be in broadcast journalism, to me now wanting to venture into public relations. I worked in public relations this summer at Regan Communications Group and the experience was rewarding because I truly enjoyed contributing to the growth of RCG’s clients and I got to see first hand how PR works. TLF also opened me to future career goals. Thanks to TLF, Ketchum and Pam Edstrom, President of the Microsoft Account Worldwide and Agency Founder of Waggener Edstrom Worldwide, I see myself doing corporate public relations work for a company as established as Ketchum. TLF taught me that being a person of color shouldn’t hold me back from my goals.

*D'Andre Young is a 2013 TLF scholarship recipient pursuing his Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications  and American Studies at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts.
217 Comment(s)
My Experience with the United Nations Foundation by Aunya Lewis
I recently wrapped up a life altering summer internship with the United Nations Foundation (UNF) as a media relations intern. Prior to my experience with the Foundation I was uncertain about my future professional career. I am currently a senior at Kennesaw State University. Although, I am a Political Science major, after completing a series of government related internships I decided to deviate from the discipline. I developed an interest in communications; however, communications-related internships were difficult to obtain due to my limited credentials and experience. The LAGRANT Foundation (TLF) created a platform for me to excel within the UNF.  My initial day with the organization solidified my decision to pursue a professional career in media, communications, and public relations.
During my time at the foundation I attended brainstorming meetings, in which I received invitations to express my ideas, regardless of their presumed importance. I was provided with personal mentorship from the Foundation’s Vice President of Communications and Public Relations, Aaron Sherinian. Mr. Sherinian extended his experiences, advice, guidance, and made sure I was paired with areas of the Public Affairs team I was interested in. In addition, I was given the opportunity to write press releases, press pitches, compile media list, draft internal communications documents and help assist with events. The most influential event was their annual Social Good Summit, a three-day conference held in New York City during UN Week. This particular experience allowed me to network work with leadership of other organizations and companies, work in a fast paced environment, test my ability to deal with issues in a timely manner, and see the results from months of hard work. The Social Good Summit was the perfect way to wrap up my internship.
Due to the invaluable experiences provided by the UNF, I was able to receive a public relations internship with Adult Swim (Turner Broadcasting) for the Fall of 2013.
Thank you Kim and TLF for continuing to help bridge the gap between minorities and the communications field. 

Aunya Lewis is a student attending Kennesaw State University in Georgia. TLF secured Aunya the internship opportunity with the UNF and wishes her the best in her future endeavors.
332 Comment(s)
TLF Scholarship Recipient Experience by Sara Farooqi
I am pursuing my MBA at Mills College with a concentration in Socially Responsible Business. My goal is to build a career devising communications and corporate social responsibility strategies that maximize profitability while catalyzing social progress.
Currently, I work as a communications practitioner for a large information technology (IT) consulting company. I love how my career allows me to capture a story and bring it to life to advance a business objective, whether it be a white paper discussing an approach to financing an IT project or a social media blast detailing my company’s community service work.
Upon graduation, I plan to work towards a senior level position in which I can direct company-wide communications and corporate responsibility efforts. I also hope to teach business communications and marketing at the community college level part-time, and work with underrepresented youth to help them gain the skills needed to succeed in the communications industry. 
My experiences as a LaGrant scholar will be critical in helping position me for continued success as a businesswoman and a communications practitioner. The LaGrant Foundation has provided me with exposure to leaders across the marketing, communications and public relations spectrum. Through my interactions with these leaders, I have received important advice relevant to my career goals. Most importantly, LaGrant’s support means having an entire network of talented professionals looking out for me, an honor for which I am immensely grateful.

*Sara is a 2013 TLF scholarship recipient obtaining her MBA with an emphasis in Socially Responsible Business at Mills College in Oakland, California.
213 Comment(s)
2013 Undergraduate Scholarship Recipient Highlight: Benjamin Ladrillono
My name is Benjamin Ladrillono, and I am a senior at The University of Alabama. I am studying public relations with a minor in business. I’m honored to have received The LAGRANT Foundation's (TLF) scholarship twice, and I have gained so much knowledge from my peers and mentors that I met through TLF.

During this past summer, I interned with a marketing firm the Intermark Group in Birmingham, Ala. In the spring of 2013, I was the Creative Director of The University of Alabama’s Bateman Competition Team, which we received honorable mention by PRSSA for our efforts to fight bullying.

I have bold career goals. Although it seems as if my goals are dream-like, I know I can achieve them. After all, goals are nothing more than dreams. I want to work at a major public relations firm and work my way up. From this gained experience, I intend to open up my own marketing firm or become a Director of Public Relations or marketing for a Fortune 500 company or a rising business. From there, I want to begin reaching out to students in need of scholarships. I would like to start my own scholarship program, very similar to TLF's.

Because of my experience with TLF, these goals formulated. The more I learn from the mentors I gained through the Foundation, the more I know that these dreams are possible.

Thank you Kim Hunter and The LAGRANT Foundation for all that you have done for me.

Benjamin Ladrillono is a 2012 and 2013 scholarship recipient pursuing his Bachelor of Arts in Communications with an emphasis in Public Relations at the University of Alabama.
190 Comment(s)
The LAGRANT Foundation's 15th Anniversary Scholarship Recognition Reception & Awards Program by Rachelle Ramirez
Born and raised in Southern California, I studied Business Management and Psychology at Whittier College.  After working for Bank of America for seven years, I made the decision to leave the banking industry and follow my dream of attending the University of Southern California to pursue a Master’s Degree.  After careful consideration, I decided that the Strategic Public Relations Program at USC’s Annenberg School was the right fit for me.

As an avid sports fan and enthusiast, I hope to secure a PR position in the sports and entertainment field.  I am interested in most aspects of sports, but I am most passionate about football and baseball.  My dream job would be to do PR for a professional MLB or NFL team.

Being chosen as one of TLF scholarship recipients was truly a blessing.  I was very grateful and honored to be chosen out of a pool of very deserving applicants.  My experience in Seattle was one I will never forget.  I was exposed to a variety of very accomplished and inspiring individuals who offered very insightful career advice.  I also had the pleasure of meeting fellow TLF scholarship recipients, many who are great individuals who I plan to stay in touch with.  Overall, the TLF experience was very rich and rewarding, and will be something I will always look back on with fond memories.

Rachelle Ramirez is a 2013 scholarship recipient attending USC's Annenberg School of Communications and Journalism pursuing her Master degree in Public Relations.
209 Comment(s)
Fleishman-Hillard Workshop Reflection by Gabbie Alvidrez*
Workshop: (noun) a seminar, discussion group, or the like, that emphasizes the exchange of ideas and the demonstration and application of techniques, skills, etc.
Prior to attending the The LAGRANT Foundation (TLF) Career Development Workshop hosted by Fleishman-Hillard, my definition of a workshop mirrored the one stated above. They sounded stiff and quiet, a company presentation filled with students weighed down my intimidation. My preconceived notions prevented me from feeling the excitement of visiting a top tier public relations agency; I could imagine myself being caught yawing or seeming inattentive while I squirmed in an uncomfortable chair. Boy was I wrong. Oh so wrong.

The brightly painted walls and modern style of the office decor immediately caught me off guard. A word had not even been said and there still existed an upbeat vibe and free-spirited environment. We were welcomed into a decent sized room with a long curved table (with comfortable chairs I may add), and introduced to a few members of the staff. John Soriano, senior account manager and internship coordinator and introduced to a few members of the staff. John Soriano, senior account manager and internship coordinator, was a bundle of smiles and energy. He described the company and shared a few client projects with the help of Ann Leverdier, assistant account executive. Their enthusiasm and expertise made a perfect match, creating a professional yet relaxed mood. Ann described the office setting as relaxed and comfortable, sharing that their office had an “open door policy.” In more than one sense of the phrase, there were literally no doors in the office. According to Ann and John, this created an environment that promoted creative exchange and enhanced office relationships with executives and entry level associates. This policy illustrated to me how devoted Fleishman-Hillard is to the creation of new ideas and the fostering of employee morale.

As the introductions ceased, John welcomed Senior Vice President, Emily Frager, and Managing Supervisor, Lauren Karasek. Lauren settled my suspicions on public relations being more than “big ideas and big titles you don’t know.” I had made a sweeping conclusion about the large company and was quickly put into place when Lauren and Emily genuinely described their contentment within their roles. Lauren detailed significant aspects of her background in crisis management, giving the green light for questions or comments on her experiences. She continued with advice on how to package ideas relative to client needs, stating that innovation and quality control play huge roles in a campaign or pitch. She elaborated on how professional development is more than elevating skills you already have, it is about challenging those around you to reach higher and think harder as well. Currently focused on a new client project, Lauren is a member of the innovation team working with digital and social media.

Lauren’s charisma set the tone for Emily to take the floor. Taking time to encourage us to keep our minds open to unique opportunities to grow, Emily shared more than just career experiences, she challenged us to never settle.

"Put yourself in as many positions as you can,” Emily said. “What clients are paying for is the number of situations you have been in; the more scenarios the better.”

She spent time describing how public relations is personality-driven in nature and is made up of  “thoughtful, real-time decisions.” Emily’s advice was priceless, and after every profound statement or insightful suggestion, I was drawn further and further into the allure of public relations and it’s versatility. Describing public relation professionals as the “Jack of all trades,” Emily illustrated the different hats that everyone rotates. From planning, writing, accounting, and counseling, to flexibility, diversity, and organization, public relations is really a chance to do it all. From outlining RFPs (Request For Proposal) to building the perfect “War Room,” Emily unwrapped a whole new side of public relations that I had never been exposed to. It was the “inside lingo” and the “behind-the-scenes” essence that made the entire afternoon an educational and encouraging experience.

Determined to make sure we understood what set Fleishman-Hillard apart from other agencies, Emily ended with a metaphor that spoke to me on a professional and student level.

“We are the student council presidents when most of our competitors are ‘the cool kids.’” While some will stick to textbook tactics and goals, Fleishman-Hillard takes charge as the responsible leader with unique concepts, refusing to sink into the generic sea of agencies that won’t break the mold.

Using innovation as a process geared toward brainstorming, and moving outside the constraints of traditional public relations approaches, Fleishman-Hillard sets the bar for the new wave of creative and evolving public relations mindset. I would have never known the extent of creativity in public relations if I had stayed glued to my misconception that workshops were monotonous and not engaging. I couldn’t have been more pleasantly surprised and am so fortunate to have been invited to go.

Gabbie Alvidrez received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Relations at California State University, Long Beach and previously interned for TLF.
282 Comment(s)
Why Everyone Should Attend a LAGRANT Foundation Career Development Workshop by Breana Harris
As a recent college graduate, I’m struggling like most to find employment so when a mentor of mine at Clark Atlanta suggested I attend The LAGRANT Foundation’s (TLF) Career Development Workshop hosted by Verizon Wireless. I thought it was a great idea! The only problem was that I live in Louisiana and the workshop was being held in Atlanta. When I spoke with my parents they immediately said they would cover the cost because “it is worth it to follow your dreams and seek out all opportunities.”

 I was all set to go until I received news from my doctor. I was in a car accident and one of the vertebrates in my neck was now out of place. I had to begin physical therapy and consider the possibility of surgery. Immediately, I began feeling depressed. How would I be able to attend the workshop now or apply for jobs out of state?

A friend of mine reminded me that I must never give up. I began to think about all those who had gone before me and faced adversity but refused to give up. I was not going to let my injury hinder my career before it even started. After explaining my situation to my uncle he advised me to go and not let anything stop me from pursuing my dreams.
After eight and a half hours of driving, I finally made it to Atlanta. Once I arrived at the workshop, I met people who were just like me, dealing with the same situation. Though I knew I was not the only person struggling to find employment, it felt good to be reminded that I was not alone.

Attending the career development workshop was one of the best decisions I ever made. I learned a great deal about my profession from some very knowledgeable and successful professionals in my field. Without attending this workshop, I would not have the upper hand in knowledge that I feel I have now. We were able to ask questions, receive advice, and network. There were also scholarships applications for undergraduate and graduate students. For anyone considering attending a TLF Career Development Workshop, the choice is easy: GO! It will surely be worth your while. If I drove over eight and a half hours with a vertebrate out of place to attend, there is no excuse not to go.  Be sure to take advantage of all the opportunities afforded to you because you never know what could happen. Whether it’s a job opportunity or the chance to gain knowledge from someone who is in the position you want to be, it is definitely worth it.

Breana Harris is an alumna of Louisiana State University
251 Comment(s)
My Internship with TLF by Joseph Apodaca

I have been interning ever since I began as a freshman at California State University, Long Beach – I have been a city newspaper reporter, an entertainment news website contributor and a social media marketer for a film distributor. Today, I can honestly say that my current internship with The LAGRANT Foundation (TLF) has by far been the best experience of them all.
When I first began interning, I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to be my ultimate career goal, to work in the entertainment industry as a public relations professional or a feature writer for a national entertainment-driven publication. However, after I had the honor of being a 2012 LAGRANT Foundation scholarship recipient, the direction of where I wanted to take my career changed drastically, as I began to look closer at the world of nonprofit public relations. Working directly for the foundation that invested so generously into my education has not only given me the opportunity to work with amazing people, but it has given me the chance to work on incredibly rewarding tasks.
Prior to being an intern at TLF, there were several things within public relations I had never conquered before, nor had I learned before in a classroom. Working on a communications plan for the 2013 scholarship applications was one of the first assignments I was given, something I had never done or learned to do before. It was such a pleasure to be given the freedom to try something new and to receive genuine, constructive feedback that will better my skills as a public relations student. Conducting outreach on behalf of TLF to promote career development workshops and the scholarship program has also been amazing, as I am actively implementing the TLF mission on a daily basis. Having the opportunity to speak with students, professors and faculty members from schools across the country about our programs and to hear people who are genuinely excited about what TLF does has been one of the coolest experiences about this internship.
One of the great things about interning with TLF is the guidance and advice that is given going beyond your position as an intern. If there is a particular agency or corporation of interest that you would like to pursue for an internship, TLF can help you achieve that goal and do what they can to help you progress within the industry. Having my resume completely edited and looked over was also such a great opportunity, as it is something I rely on to represent myself on paper as a public relations student. Knowing that the information I want portrayed on my resume is being showcased properly gives me the piece of mind I need when I submit it for various internships and jobs, and for that I thank TLF.
There are countless amazing things to say about interning with TLF and I feel so privileged to be in my second internship term with such an amazing foundation. As someone who is ethnically diverse myself, I feel like I am making a difference in the public relations industry every time I step through the doors of the office. This has been such an incredible experience and I look forward to my continued growth in the public relations industry with the help of TLF.

*Joseph Apodaca is a 2012 LAGRANT Foundation undergraduate scholarship recipient pursuing his degree in Journalism with an emphasis in Public Relations at California State University, Long Beach.
177 Comment(s)
Continuing My Journey by Rachelle Dejean

I honestly don’t know where to begin to recap this week. Being a part of this program has surpassed my expectations and goals, and the third week definitely did not disappoint. Among the various projects I was assigned, I still had the chance to sit in on more meetings to learn about specific parts of the Brand Marketing practice. In my opinion, you can never learn enough, and seeing how the agency manages their accounts for writing and pitching, celebrity seeding, media relations and events, was more priceless insight that I could take away with me beyond this program.

 As I have mentioned in every post so far, I came here to learn. And I’ve done that by being attentive in meetings, scribbling down notes, highlighting and book marking pages of information, and being open to new practices. But I received a piece of information last week in casual conversation—just a few short words—and they may have been the most valuable lesson yet. The conversation expressed that the best way to adapt to a new environment (my time with B-M is my first real agency experience), and succeed in it, is to watch the environment and actions of my colleagues. Doing this is the easiest way to assimilate with a team. This really stuck out to me and wasn’t something that I discussed aloud before.

To top off this week, I had a phone call on my schedule with Harold Burson himself. Being so new to the office, I was surprised and excited to talk with him; he was inviting and engaging. His story of creating a public relations firm is truly inspiring, and I am happy to represent The LAGRANT Foundation as the second Fellow (following Danielle Chase at Burson-Marsteller New York).

The one thing that has helped me transition from an e-commerce marketing job, to a month with the Brand Marketing team at Burson-Marsteller, is the support system I have been blessed with. Danielle shared her experiences and advice with me even before I flew out here. The LAGRANT Foundation has offered more support than I could hope for, and my family continues to send their blessings from miles away. Furthermore, everyone in the office has offered their time to mentor me. I want to thank everyone for their support and following me along in this journey.

*Rachelle is the second participant of the Harold-Burson Fellowship program.

316 Comment(s)
Goals for Success by Rachelle Dejean
My first weekend after joining the Burson-Marsteller LA office greeted me with sunny skies and 80 degrees in “fall”. While the weather is something I was certainly happy to get used to, I also needed to mentally prepare for Week #2. Having spent a full week in the office, in and out of department meetings, learning about clients, and getting briefed with tasks, Hour 41 was my chance to put what I have been learning into effect.

I came into this fellowship with three goals in mind, which I think are valuable at any level: to learn everything I can, challenge myself, and work really hard. To me that means being accountable, accepting any and all responsibilities as an opportunity to perform, and do just that—perform. Four weeks is not a lot of time to leave a positive impression, but it is something I aim to do as a representative of both myself and The LAGRANT Foundation.

Having this new acquired knowledge for BM practices, processes, and client campaigns, I was able to accept more account-specific responsibilities my second week. Thus, it has been much busier than the first—I have spent allotted time on various accounts and worked to fit in multiple projects a day. I was overwhelmed, but soon after I realized this as an indicator of me reaching my goal. The beauty of this fellowship program is that I am doing the exact work I would be doing if I worked at Burson-Marsteller beyond the fellowship. I’m not just an “intern.”

I still can’t believe I am here working alongside and connecting with great professionals and of course, I’m happy and saddened that I’m half way there. I find joy that I’ve come much further than Day 1, yet sad because only two weeks remain.

Every new day reiterates that this opportunity is a priceless chance to better myself and grow as a professional, so I will definitely take however many days I can get!

*Rachelle Dejean is the second Harold Burson Fellow. She currently interns at the Los Angeles office of Burson-Marsteller.
200 Comment(s)
Rachelle Dejean 2012 Harold Burson Fellowship Program Burson-Marsteller Los Angeles
I am honored to follow in the footsteps of Danielle Chase, and feel so blessed that I was selected to learn from the great Brand Marketing team at Burson-Marsteller (BM) Los Angeles. Being a female Haitian-American, diversity is very important and it means so much that the LAGRANT Foundation advocates diversity and specializes in providing opportunities such as this one.

Heading to my first day at the BM office, I didn’t know what to expect, but I flew (literally) at the chance to move from my home in Chicago to work with one of the best PR firms and Brand Practice teams in the industry. Being in a new city with only a few nearby friends had me a bit overwhelmed, but in five days, I have taken part in a crash course in the Burson Toolbox as well as brand meetings, met U.S. CEO Dave DenHerder, and participated in brainstorming and lunch-and-learn sessions with the team. I’ve learned about global networking and requests for proposals, updated media lists, and even compiled a social media report that will be used as a resource in the future. There is no time to be overwhelmed with relocation when I’m this busy!

It has been an interesting Week 1 to say the least. In between scheduled meetings, learning sessions and getting acquainted, we also experienced technical difficulties that made it hard to stay connected. Our main server is located in New York, which required us to be flexible and mindful when trying to reach others outside of the office. No email in a PR office is one thing, but even more bizarre, I got to spend some time with senior executives halfway during the week! They showed up at our Halloween office party to help celebrate the holiday.

While I am learning so much in the office, I am picking up a lot when I’m away from my desk, like how crazy the traffic in Los Angeles is—especially when relying on the metro system. Nevertheless, my daily commute brings me to the gorgeous Water Garden, a center of corporate offices where BM is located. Elegant water fountains at every turn were not something I was expecting, but it mirrors the atmosphere of BM and the team. It didn’t take a full day before I realized that the team works so hard for their existing clients and for new business alike.

I am eager to continue learning and get more involved. Bring on Week 2!

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A Weekend of Leadership by Senait Chrisostomo
When I first met the group of LAGRANT Scholars I was genuinely happy to be surrounded by other students of color with similar goals. It gave me more motivation to excel in marketing and change the perception of the industry and also, to continue to encourage youth to pursue higher education and consider marketing and public relation as an area of study.
Over the two days of the program, I received plenty of insight on the marketing and PR industry and met amazing leaders. I have no doubt that the program positively impacted us all, beginning with the welcome dinner hosted by Waggener Edstrom Worldwide (WE). Pam Edstrom herself gave an awesome speech about her journey in becoming the President of the Microsoft Account Worldwide and Founder of WE, sharing a conveying message to take risks because “if you don’t die, it’s not that bad!”
The second day was filled with a career development workshop led by APCO Worldwide. We were presented with motivational speeches, learned of different projects within the strategic communications firm, and even received a personal tour of the Capitol building.
The LAGRANT Foundation 14th Anniversary Scholarship Recognition Reception and Awards Program included a lineup of very accomplished professionals in the marketing and public relation industries such as Director of Standards and Staffing of USA TODAY and Master of Ceremonies for the evening Brent Jones, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications for TE Connectivity and Committee Chair, Joan Wainwright, Executive Vice President of Global Communications and Public Affairs of Marriott International, Inc., Kathleen Mathews and our very own Founder/Chairman of The LAGRANT Foundation, Mr. Kim L Hunter. Powerful words were shared to guide and motivate all of the scholarship recipients to continue chasing our dreams. APCO Worldwide was a wonderful host for the reception providing a beautiful space for presentation and networking amongst representatives and students.
Overall, The LAGRANT Foundation 14th Anniversary Scholarship Recognition Reception and Awards Program was monumental. I am very grateful to have been selected as a 2012 LAGRANT Scholarship Recipient and greatly value my experience during the program.

*Senait Chrisostomo is a 2012 TLF undergraduate scholarship recipient

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The LAGRANT Foundation Career Development Workshop with THINQACTION
The LAGRANT Foundation Career Development Workshop with THINQACTION
by Joseph Apodaca*

Today, myself along with four of the 2012 LAGRANT Foundation scholarship recipients had the honor and pleasure of participating in a career development workshop with renowned journalist and career coach, Antonio Neves.
Going into this workshop I was excited and eager to receive career advice from someone who has gained a tremendous amount of respect as a business journalist, television producer and a speaker who seeks to teach students and young professionals to "kick butt in their career". Antonio was immediately welcoming and engaging and conducted himself in a comfortable manner, making himself more relatable to myself and the four other attendants whom he had just met. After introducing ourselves to him formally, Antonio told us more about his career experience, detailing his life as a small-town kid from Michigan who left his humble roots to seek greater opportunities, eventually making it to New York City with a mere $600 in his pocket.
Antonio challenged us to really think about where we wanted to take our career aspirations as public relations, communications and marketing students. We were asked to consider what do we do, who do we do it for, how do we do it and why do we do it - an exercise that was eye-opening for us all. While we went into the workshop with ideas about where we wanted our careers to go in the future, Antonio's exercise allowed us to see other career interests in ourselves that we might not have initially considered. Seeing the reactions of the other individuals in the room when Antonio would ask certain questions about the career and their interests and how their faces would light up when he would touch on something that was a minor interest to them was awe-inspiring and gave us all a chance to think about what truly makes us "come alive".
As the founder of THINQACTION and its corresponding website, thinqaction.com, Antonio stressed the importance of building our network with a long-term approach. Social media was something he regarded of extreme importance, especially websites such as LinkedIN. He also stressed practices that, in this day of technology, often go overlooked. Taking the initiative and requesting an informational meeting with someone you want to learn from one-on-one was something he made clear was very important in building your network and gaining a better outlook for career direction. Simple things such as asking questions and writing hand-written thank you notes to those you encounter along the way up the corporate world were also things he regarded as important, even in an age where email communication is the easier option.
Attending this workshop with Antonio Neves hosted by The LAGRANT Foundation was easily one of the most eye-opening and inspiring events I have participated in during my three years as a public relations student. It is one thing to go to a workshop and gain information about the profession you want to go into or a company you wish to work for, but what Antonio did for us, and for other young professionals he coaches, was take that experience to the next level and challenged us to think critically while maintaining a personable level of communication with myself and the other scholarship recipients in attendance. I have walked away from this experience with a whole new perspective on where I plan to take my career and I'm sure my fellow scholarship recipients in attendance feel the same.
THINQACTION is a great way to gain career guidance through one-on-one coaching sessions with Antonio and through various other helpful articles and blog posts on his website. For more information about Antonio Neves and THINQACTION, visit thinqaction.com.

*Joseph is one of The LAGRANT Foundation's 2012 scholarship recipients.

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"Communications Conversations" Hosted by Waggener Edstrom Worldwide in Seattle

"Communications Conversations" Hosted by Waggener Edstrom Worldwide in Seattle
by Monica Santos-Pinacho*

On Thursday, April 12, 2012, I left my house, in Vancouver, Washington, at 4:45 a.m. and drove to Seattle to attend the Communications Conversation event at the Waggener Edstrom Worldwide headquarters. The LAGRANT Foundation and Waggener Edstrom Worldwide joined forces to create this opportunity for me and eight other undergraduate students majoring in the fields of Marketing or Public Relations.

At 8:38 a.m. with just seven minutes to spare, I found my way to the 6th floor of the Civica North Tower. This development workshop was a dynamic all-day experience that included breakfast with Pam Edstrom, Waggener Edstrom Worldwide Co-founder and President of the Microsoft Account Worldwide; a Waggener Edstrom Worldwide employee panel that answered questions and provided us with valuable career advice; resume reviews and mock interviews with WE HR personnel; lunch with Melissa Waggener Zorkin, WE Founder and CEO; a brainstorming session with See Your Impact, a WE pro bono client that helps raise funds for other non-profit organizations around the world; a behind the scenes glance at what is like to open Microsoft retail stores across the country; an engaging conversation with the General Manager of Communications for the Server and Tools business group at Microsoft, Amy Barzdikas; and a social hour reception that allowed us more time to interact with the speakers and other WE staff.

The entire event was a phenomenal experience. Having a chance to interact with the agency?s founders, Mellissa Waggener and Pam Edstrom was definitely the highlight of the event. Listening to Pam Edstrom's story of how her drive and determination got her into the technology field was very inspiring. With her story, she showed us that knowing everything is not always the key to success. The key to being successful is having the self-motivation to keep learning something new every day. The highlight of her presentation was when she told us not to be afraid and shared with us a few stories of some of her most memorable mistakes. "Fear is your enemy", she told us. Melissa Waggener shared a very casual lunch with us. I sat there in awe having a hard time believing that the CEO of a worldwide company would take so much time out of her day to simply talk to nine undergraduate students. It was very impressive to see that Waggener knew I attended Washington State University Vancouver. She knew a little bit about all of us.

The day continued and we had an amazing opportunity to interact with professionals in public relations who are all are so passionate about the industry we one day hope to venture into. One of the most encouraging aspects of this workshop was seeing first-hand how helpful the Waggener Edstrom Worldwide staff is. They were genuinely willing to give us their best advice and tips for success in this field. They all love what they do, and they enjoy the environment Waggener Edstrom Worldwide provide them. They see their jobs as careers and as an opportunity to explore their talents and grow as professionals. Their passion for their careers leaked everywhere and all nine of us students were there to catch some of it.

At about 6:25 p.m. with a wallet full of business cards, I said goodbye to all of the amazing people I had met throughout the day. I walked out the door, hoping to return one day. The three and a half hour drive home was the perfect opportunity to think back on all of the great things we were exposed to in the last nine hours and felt incredibly thankful to the LAGRANT Foundation and Waggener Edstrom Worldwide for providing this extraordinary opportunity.

*Monica Santos-Pinacho is one of The LAGRANT Foundation's 2012 scholarship recipients

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Waggener Edstrom Hosts "Communications Conversations"

Waggener Edstrom Worldwide Hosts "Communications Conversations"
By Senait Chrisostomo*

On April 12, 2012, Waggener Edstrom Worldwide and The LAGRANT Foundation partnered together to offer undergraduate students from the Seattle area to partake in an exclusive workshop. I was fortunate enough to be among the nine attendees and can honestly say the eventful day was beyond rewarding. The day began with a lovely breakfast with Pam Edstrom, Waggener Edstrom Worldwide Co-founder & President of the Microsoft Account Worldwide. Through her bubbly and energetic personality, she shared her journey into technical communications through Tetronix, as Director of Public Relations for Microsoft and currently as Co-Founder of Waggener Edstrom Worldwide and President of the Microsoft Account Worldwide.  Pam Edstrom left us with three great pieces of advice to always remember: ask questions, fear is your enemy, and “the world changes dramatically”.

The program proceeded with a panel of young professionals who shared their journey into communications and their positions at Waggener Edstrom Worldwide. The panel shared very honest and humble experiences which was very beneficial for me. Many undergraduates share the commonality of not knowing exactly what they want to be when they “grow up” and hearing their stories confirmed that there is not always a direct path and that trial and error may be necessary to find a good fit.

After the panel discussion, we transitioned into the Speed-Dating styled interviews with Waggener Edstrom Worldwide Human Resources. Students spent about 10 to 15 minutes with each Human Resources expert to either participate in a mock interview or receive resume advice. The experience was golden because we were able to spend one on one time with the ticket holders of the communication and public relation industry. I learned how to improve my interviewing skills and tips on how to strengthen my resume qualifications through honest feedback.

What better way to follow up Speed Dating than a lunch discussion with Melissa Waggener Zorkin, CEO, President and Founder of Waggener Edstrom Worldwide. Waggener definitely shattered any intimidation one may have being an undergraduate and speaking with the CEO of a global company. She knew quite a bit about each student which expressed Waggener’s interest in getting to know potential interns and employees.  She humbly spoke about her journey into communications and into entrepreneurship as well as her interest in service both locally and globally, including Mercy Corp, a non-profit organization that addresses social development across the globe.

After lunch, we later participated in a brainstorm with See Your Impact, a Waggener Edstrom Worldwide pro bono client. Divided into groups based on different projects within the organization, we developed ideas on how to inspire youth engagement in service projects. Specifically, I participated in the brainstorm for Gen Up, which allows young adults to create a service project to fundraise for a cause he or she supports. It was a great experience to know the organization will be using our ideas to improve their communication and marketing tactics.

*Senait Chrisostomo is one of The LAGRANT Foundation's 2012 scholarship recipients


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How To Get The Most From An Agency Internship

How To Get The Most From An Agency Internship
By Danielle Chase*

Here at Burson-Marsteller, no two days are the same. Every day I am assigned a completely new project. While having to acquire the skills and content knowledge necessary for these tasks, I’ve also had to manage the demands of graduate school.  There have been many bumps along the road.  That being said, I’ve learned a lot about best practices for agency interns.  Considering that many frequenters of this site are probably communications students, I thought it might be beneficial to share a couple of these best practices.
  1. Be proactive. Speak with your managers early on about your interests and your goals.  Ask them their advice on which projects or clients you are best suited for.  Meet as many people as you can.  Practice your three minute pitch (your background, your short term goals, and your long term goals).  Have a CV and digital portfolio on hand if and when an opportunity presents itself. 
  1. Take responsibility for your learning. If you don’t know something, figure it out. Be resourceful: Google it first, then ask for help. Research. Take notes. Find a mentor—or two. If you find that all you are doing is faxing and fetching coffee, it’s likely because the team doesn’t think you’re capable of much else. Prove them wrong. Go above and beyond what they expect from you.
  1. Give thoughtful input. Always listen more than you speak.  When you have something worth saying, say it. Even if they think your idea was awful, at least now they know what your voice sounds like. Be sure to find opportunities to showcase what you do well. For example, I have an education background, so I presented about twenty suggestions on strategies we could use for a financial literacy program.  They didn’t take any of those ideas, but they did use one sentence from that e-mail in a Reuters Op-Ed.  Speaking up can have surprisingly good results.
  1. Manage expectations. If you have too much on your plate already, say so. When you take on too much you do things poorly, you fail to earn respect from colleagues and you can potentially threaten agency-client relationships. Do what you can, and do it well.
  1. Grades first. In the same vein as “managing expectations”, be sure to be clear with your team about your academic responsibilities. If you have a midterm that day, tell your supervisor. Not only are you incurring a great debt for that degree, but you likely won’t get the job without it. 
  1. Know your stuff. Every morning scan at least three news sites—I recommend The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today. If your company delivers an email digest, read it. If your agency has a public blog, subscribe to this as well. Also, if the CEO of your organization wrote a book, you better at least have a working knowledge of its content.  (Special mention to Mark Penn’s Microtrends and Harold Burson’s E Pluribus Unum.)
  1. PROOFREAD EVERYTHING. Spell check is your enemy. Print everything and go over it with a red pen. Know the rules regarding quotation marks, commas and parentheses (Strunk and White’s Elements of Style and the AP Stylebook are great resources).  Check all formatting (common day practice is to use only one space after each period, but this is personal preference).  Know your contractions; there is nothing worse than reading a “you’re” in the place of a “your” or an “it’s” in the place of an “its.”  Also, figure out which font, size and header your supervisor prefers.  Arial 11 seems to be the BM fav.
  1. Be professional. Regardless of what you hear, don’t use lewd language or attempt to win friends with distasteful jokes. Don’t engage in office gossip. Regardless of the casual nature of your agency, dress for where you want to be.
  1. Be NICE. This seems obvious, but always remember: your resume will get you in the door, but whether or not they like you will get you the job.  Smile, be personable, and don’t forget your thank you cards.

Now you may not sleep much. You may be in a constant state of anxiety and approaching deadlines. You may long for a meal that isn’t a microwaved frozen entree. But if you made it a point to learn as much as you can and make the best impression you possibly could, your experience will far surpass your expectations.  
Without question, my experiences at B-M have far surpassed mine. 

*Danielle is the first recipient of the Harold Burson Fellowship program through The LAGRANT Foundation.

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Ethics 101
Ethics 101
By Danielle Chase*

As part of the NYU Public Relations curriculum we are required to take a course titled “Ethics and Law of Public Communications.”  Required reading for this course includes the book Toxic Sludge is Good for You by John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton. 
With a strong inclination for social justice, I became engrossed in this book and its discussion on the ethical qualms of public relations practitioners.  The more I read, the more disconcerted I became.  It seemed that every chapter had the regular mention of Burson-Marsteller, the agency where I am completing my LAGRANT Fellowship tenure. 
As part of the fellowship I have the opportunity to meet once a week with Mr. Harold Burson, founder of B-M.  This week was our first sit down meeting.  I knew I didn’t want the topic of controversial clients to be the content of our first chat, but after about an hour of friendly discourse I mentioned the book to him.  I asked him what his guiding forces were on ethics.  I believe his answer was important enough to share.
Mr. Burson gave me about a half a dozen criteria that must be aligned in order for him take on or retain a client.  Most of these were related to the economics and logistics of agency-client relationships, i.e. negotiating a fair rate, being respectful to his staff, whether or not their requests were reasonable, and if he was certain that he wouldn’t lose any clients by taking on this newcomer.  But the most interesting criterion he mentioned I believe was the most important takeaway of that conversation: Mr. Burson said he would refuse a client if more than half of his staff refused to work for them.
Above all, I think this rule of thumb should be standard throughout our burgeoning careers as public relations practitioners.  The subject of ethics is not a science.  Working for one client may be completely at odds with my moral imperative, while my colleague might kill for the chance to be on that same team.  In agencies as big as B-M, it would be impossible to make choices on who we represent based on the values of a few selected individuals.  For that reason, Mr. Burson is right to use “majority vote” as a criterion for whom he chooses to represent.
Then I asked Mr. Burson if that had ever happened.  Had he ever had to turn down a client because more than 50 percent of his staff wouldn’t take them on?  He said he never did. 
At first I thought he never had to refuse a client because his staff would be too nervous to actually protest.  But I realized very shortly that it had nothing to do with a culture of fear, and everything to do with how well the B-M staff is prepared to handle ethical quandaries. 
When I was bought on at B-M I had to participate in ethics training, anti-bribery training, and anti-corruption training.  I had to sign a Code of Conduct statement, pledging to never commit to any illegal or immoral activity.  I had to read and acknowledge understanding of our Right to Speak statement, which offers confidential reporting to encourage employees to speak up if they ever felt they witnessed or were forced to participate in less than ethical behavior. 
After all of this incredible focus on deterring less than scrupulous activity, I couldn’t simply believe, as the authors John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton might conclude, that B-M was a place with no moral imperative.  In these past two weeks alone I have been told many times that if I ever feel uncomfortable working for a client that I can simply refuse the project.  At first I thought this would be ridiculous; as a pseudo-intern (secretly hoping for a job offer), what would I look like turning down a project?  But the more I learn here at B-M, the more I realize I will never have the need to protest an “unethical” client.  I might find myself working on crisis communications during an oil spill, or issues management for a nuclear power plant, or research and development for a food corporation that is being protested against.  With each of these tasks my job is not to protect a client who has done wrong, or “spin” a story to best reflect their interests, but to guide that organization to do what is best. 
What is best is always what is in the public interest (yes—regardless of your client’s bottom line).  This is why for year’s public relations was defined as the medium which helps an organization and its publics “mutually adapt” to one another.[1] This is why Arthur Page tells us that “every business exists by public consent.”
As public relations practitioners it is our job to “reconcile client goals with the public interest.”[2]  By definition then, we must work in accordance with our true north.  We must do work that we believe most accurately reflects what is best for the greatest number of people.  If we fail to act ethically, not only are we endangering the reputations of our client and our agency, but we are doing our society a great disservice as well. 

*Danielle is the first recipient of the Harold Burson Fellowship program through The LAGRANT Foundation.

[1] http://www.prsa.org/AboutPRSA/PublicRelationsDefined
[2] http://www.burson-marsteller.com/Innovation_and_insights/blogs_and_podcasts/harold_burson_blog/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?List=6d4dbc50%2D37e1%2D4c20%2D8040%2D703259fddd1f&ID=70

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What Leadership Looks Like

What Leadership Looks Like
by Danielle Chase*

I’ve had tons of jobs.  I’ve been a public school teacher, a campaign manager, a community affairs coordinator, a junior publicist, a legislative assistant, a florist, a community board member, a gas station attendant, and pretty much have held every job you can think of that involves food service, including waitressing, bartending, dishwashing, bar back, and cleaning staffer.  But never before did I have a job quite like this one.
This was my first week at the world renowned PR agency, Burson-Marsteller (“B-M”).  I have had the fortune of being selected as the very first Harold Burson Fellow.  The fellowship includes four weeks with the Corporate Practice team, participating in numerous learning opportunities, and one-on-one mentoring meetings with the legendary, Mr. Harold Burson, in the flesh.  Just this week, I’ve participated in a lunch-and–learn session, several conference calls, and a workshop with B-M South Africa’s CEO.  I’ve learned about luxury marketing, global expansion, innovation and rankings, thought leadership strategies, and executive visibility.  I’ve been on projects for three Fortune 100 companies, an NGO, a luxury car company, an investment bank, and a global beer brand, and it’s only week one!
In the culmination of this week of non-stop activity and learning, I’ve come to an important realization: that this is the best job I’ve ever had, and I think I know why.  In critical business class we have been learning about effective business models, and the theories behind how to create one.  My favorite theorist thus far is Robert Deming.  Deming was a philosopher and statistician.  He theorized that there were 14 factors needed if a business were to truly sustain and remain prosperous.  He called this the 14 Points of Management.  
When I was studying the 14 Points of Management, I increasingly began to associate them with the qualities and culture of B-M.  Simultaneously, I began noticing that all of the mismanaged institutions where I previously held employment had qualities that were in opposition to Deming’s theory.  Where B-M is forever focused on its mission and vision, other organizations fixate on short-term objectives.  Where B-M is constantly giving its staff opportunities to learn and contribute creatively, other organizations impose limitations, stifle progress, and prioritize seniority as the most important factor to an employee’s value.  Where B-M is constantly making efforts to break down silos—evident in their SharePoint databases, and their ongoing interactions between departments—other organizations manage rigid levels of inclusion, and managers take advantage of their authority.  These are the differences between a functioning, well-managed organization where employees feel they are valued, and organizations that are doomed to fail due to lack of effective leadership.  This is the difference between an organization where I would like to be employed by, and an organization where I never want to work again. 
Mr. Burson and his extraordinary staff have created a world-class organization, one that truly exemplifies its values, and is on the direct path to achieving its vision.  B-M is an industry leader, and I couldn’t have picked a better organization to learn the fundamentals of public relations, and real-world implications of effective leadership.
At the end of the day, it sure beats working at the flower shop!

*Danielle is the first recipient of the Harold Burson Fellowship program through The LAGRANT Foundation.

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