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Five Things Fisher Students Learned Through Lead #LikeAGirl

March 18, 2021

Last week, The PRIMA Group and the Tom Proietti Chapter of Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) hosted its fifth annual Lead #LikeAGirl series in honor of Women’s History Month. The three-day interactive student-run series empowers St. John Fisher College students in the media and communication fields and provides them with skills to exercise active leadership.

Speakers at this year’s event included Arien Rozelle, assistant professor at St. John Fisher College; Talya Meyerowitz, founder, A Respectful Workplace; Kim Allen, CEO of Dixon Schwabl; Dresden Engle, founder and executive director of Dresden PR; and Amanda DeVito ’96, vice president of marketing and growth for Butler/Till.

Here are five things students learned from this year’s Lead #LikeAGirl series:

1. The women’s suffrage movement is one of the most successful and longest running public relations campaigns in history.

Rozelle taught students about Susan B. Anthony, Ida Husted Harper, and other famous women in the suffragist movement that used organized and continuous public relations strategies and tactics to persuade, motivate, and change the public’s opinion on their cause.

“They deserve recognition as early pioneers of modern public relations, particularly in an activist context,” Rozelle said.

2. “It’s time for women to disrupt the workplace.”

Meyerowitz, founder of A Respectful Workplace, said that women remain significantly underrepresented in the corporate pipeline and outnumbered by men in senior leadership positions. She said that even though women are more successful in breaking the glass ceiling now, gender bias is still a huge issue that plagues every industry.

Meyerowitz also addressed the importance of women championing other women, noting a survey that showed 95 percent of women reported being undermined by another woman in the workplace.

“It’s time for women to disrupt the workplace” and create meaningful relationships with one another instead of tearing them down, she said. From being a mentor or sponsor to another woman, refer a woman into a leadership position, or championing each other in the workplace, she urged students to do their part in leading the change.

Meyerowitz ended her workshop with a powerful quote about female empowerment from Madeline Albright, former United States Secretary of State: “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”

3. Being a desirable employee goes beyond your skills and professional abilities.

Engle, cofounder of Dresden Public Relations, says that she wants to hire people that are not only knowledgeable about public relations but have other qualities, including empathy, trustworthiness, and the ability to be vulnerable. Allen, of Dixon Schwabl, added that she likes potential hires who are good leaders, have integrity, and have a great work ethic, noting that these are skills that can’t be taught.

Besides personality traits, culture plays a huge part in agencies looking for new hires. DeVito of Butler/Till said that for a long time, agencies were looking to hire somebody who fit their own culture, which led to a lot of biases and prejudices in the industry. DeVito said that agencies “need to remember how to hire for culture and not a culture fit” for the agency, which is what Butler/Till is currently doing.

4. Starting your career is never easy.

Allen says it is easy to make mistakes in your career because it is expected. DeVito added that when you first start your career, “there is a degree of fake it ‘til you make it.” Having the extra help of a mentor to judge your mistakes will only help the process of young professionals starting out in the communications industry. DeVito made sure to tell students, “Comparison is the killer of joy.”

5. It’s normal to not love your job every day.

Allen ended the panel with great advice on starting your career as a young professional. She reassured students that it is okay to second-guess yourself and doubt your career path. It happens to everybody. When you get to the heart of your work and find your truth, it will help keep you motivated through all of the hardships. Allen made sure to emphasize that the bad days on the job will make the best days on the job so much better.

And, if you don’t enjoy your job, Engle says, “it’s okay to rewrite the ending.” She added, “I still have dreams at my age and sometimes they come true. Don’t feel pressure to follow your original blueprint for your career.”

This article was written by Riley Moscicki '21, an intern in the Office of Marketing and Communications.