Choose your own adventure: Getting to know the post-graduate public relations program at Loyalist College
Author: Ben Cowie
The post-graduate public relations program at Loyalist College is a one-year certificate program. Known among students as “Loyalist PR”, the program is designed for recent post-secondary graduates looking for a professional career path to complement their existing education.
“I appreciate that in this program all experiences are viewed as an asset,” says student Kevin Ashbridge. “I get to build on my University of Ottawa degree, pad my current resume, develop new skills and shape them towards a profession that’s both challenging and exciting to me.”
Loyalist PR is all about hands-on, practical learning paired with students’ own individual interests.
“It’s a bit of a ‘choose your own adventure,’” says University of Western Ontario graduate and Loyalist PR student Ben Cowie. “You’re given the autonomy to choose your own topics of research, areas in which to network, and people to meet. We have no tests or exams. All of our learning is applied into the projects we create.”
Students are taught public relations basics, are encouraged to add their individual styles to assignments and learn how to operate multimedia software like Adobe InDesign and Photoshop. They’re also taught the art of developing social media strategies, brand management programs, internal communications plans, non-profit communication campaigns, event coordination, traditional and online writing and much more. At the end of the program these skills are applied by students during a month-long field placement in Ontario, Canada – or anywhere in the world.
“I approached the program determined to take every opportunity that came my way,” says University of Guelph alumna Katrina White and Loyalist PR graduate 2013/14. “I found the professional association memberships [automatic with registration in the program] particularly useful. IABC and CPRS both hold great events for students.”
“You’ll meet real professionals there to mentor you because they have been in your shoes,” says Queens University graduate and Loyalist PR student Katie Stewart. “The College has connections in so many different industries. Our writing professor worked for the OHL and our program coordinator worked for the RCMP. We have health care connections, graduates who work at places like TIFF, the Ottawa Senators and Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto. The list goes on and on.”
The Loyalist PR program uses industry connections to benefit students on a daily basis and has many networking events throughout the year. In October the class takes a trip to Toronto, while speed networking, professional panels and micro-networking sessions take place regularly.
“Our network of employers and industry partners is growing each year,” says Kerry Ramsay, Loyalist College Professor and post-graduate public relations Program Coordinator. “It is especially rewarding to see so many of our alumni who are now working in the field become brand ambassadors for the program, and mentors for our current students.”
“I never realized just how vast the PR industry is,” says Ben. “It’s encouraging to know there are so many opportunities out there.”
Loyalist College is located in Belleville, Ontario where students quickly learn benefits of studying in a smaller city setting.
“For me, feeling like a person and not just a number goes a long way towards making me feel valued,” says Ben. “Loyalist PR this year has a class size of 25. We learn what it’s like to work as a team, to support and learn from one another. We are living in a microcosm of the actual PR work environment.”
Belleville is a strategic location for students; its campus located less than an hour’s drive from Kingston and Oshawa. Toronto is only two hours away and is readily accessible by VIA Rail, the 401 and major bus lines.
“Loyalist is a huge part of the Belleville community, and it feels great going to a school so locally involved,” says Julia Vriend, Queens University graduate and student of the program. “Loyalist students are actively involved in partnering with local businesses and charities. It’s nice feeling like you’re a part of something bigger than yourself – like our involvement with the United Way of Quinte and the Belleville Firefighters Toy Drive. We get opportunities to work on real fundraisers for school credit and the community’s benefit.”
Have questions about the post-graduate public relations program at Loyalist College? Interested in becoming a student for the day? Please contact Kerry Ramsay, Professor and Program Coordinator at email@example.com or visit www.loyalistpr.com.
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