AD+PR Alumna Reflects on Career Preparation in College

Professional Advisory Board Member, Hanna Porterfield, Shares Insights and Advice from Her Path in PR

by Sierra Hole

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Hanna Porterfield, MSU AD+PR alumna and senior manager of social media at W20 Group.

Just six years out of MSU, Hanna Porterfield has worked in public relations agencies in New York City and Chicago, traveled to Europe to work on campaigns, and stayed connected to Michigan State University through her membership on the department’s Professional Advisory Board. She now works as senior manager of social media at W2O Group in Chicago.

After securing a media planning internship at MediaCom in New York City the summer after her junior year of college, Porterfield says she was determined to work in New York City upon graduating. She spent her senior spring break in the city interviewing for jobs. After countless interviews, she landed a job at Development Counsellors International as an assistant account executive. Development Counsellors International is an agency that focuses on travel and economic development marketing, with capabilities in areas such as digital, research, public relations, branding and strategy.

Porterfield emphasizes the importance of following up and staying in touch with network contacts when looking for jobs and internships. When interviewing for the job at DCI, she was initially turned down because the company had an immediate need to fill the position. However, she was attentive to the company and position, and noticed the job posting was still active. She followed up after her interview and continued to stay in touch with the company for the next two months until it was so close to graduation that they were able to hire her.

“Make an impact when following up,” said Porterfield. “Even if you’re not asking them for anything at the time, share some information with them, such as a project you’re working on.”

In addition to staying in touch with recruiters, Porterfield notes that practicing relevant skills on your own and providing a portfolio with work samples can help applicants stand out among the crowd. She says proactively having examples of work in applications and interviews without being prompted to provide them can go a long way.

“Anybody can go into an interview and talk about what they’ve accomplished and what they want in their career, but to really see the work they’ve done is very impactful,” said Porterfield.

She says that the most important things she did while in college were prioritizing her job search, networking and taking any opportunities to practice her skills. She explained that finding ways to build on class knowledge through extracurricular activities is extremely beneficial.

“If you do not have much prior experience, giving yourself experiences in your everyday life that you can tie back to what work culture will be like can help when applying for internships and jobs,” said Porterfield.

After working at DCI in New York City for four years after graduation, Porterfield decided she wanted to move to Chicago. She enjoyed the company and work she was doing at the time, so she asked to keep her job and work remotely from Chicago. After one year, she took her position at W2O Group in Chicago, where she’s practiced for about a year.

Reflecting on her journey so far, Porterfield says she has learned a lot through working with clients. Some of her biggest challenges have been navigating different client personalities and determining how to change directions in the middle of a campaign to mediate a client concern or fix an unsuccessful strategy.

“Growing as much as I have so far and being able to lead so many projects on my own has been a highlight of my professional journey so far,” said Porterfield. “In my job now, implementing social media campaigns that are interesting and impactful to consumers in such a regulated industry, healthcare, has been some of my biggest accomplishments.”

Porterfield and other notable AD+PR alumni can be reached through Professional Advisory Board office hours. Contact Arianna O’Rourke to set up a meeting time.