The five senior-level pros profiled in "Teachable moments" have benefitted greatly from serving as adjunct professors. Of course, their students have gained so much, too. Below a quintet of students discuss how our spotlighted teachers have educated and inspired them as they embark on their careers.
Student: Alex Gold, social media coordinator at Nickelodeon
Professor: Paula Askanas, USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism; EVP of comms, Sony Pictures Television
"Over the past two years at USC Annenberg, one professor shines brighter than the rest – Paula Askanas. She is a driven, warm-hearted, and sharp-witted PR industry veteran at Sony Pictures Television. I loved her class because it was a pragmatic, thought-provoking deep dive into the grit-behind-the-glam real world of entertainment PR.
Swearing our class to secrecy, Paula shared invaluable of-the-moment, unfolding events and back-channeling with top editors at major media outlets that led to a given story’s existence – or lack thereof. The experience was akin to admiring a beautiful Persian rug and flipping it over to examine its intricate stitching in detail."
Student: Melissa Karlin, most recently account manager at Kenshoo
Professor: Jon Harris, University of Chicago Graham School; CCO, ConAgra Foods
"Jon’s focus on real-world examples and classroom guests enabled me to gain PR experience based on current events and scenarios. Putting together our final project of a comprehensive PR initiative was also beneficial in learning exactly what goes into such plans and gaining real-life presentation experience, which can be really difficult to come by.
Jon was adamant is accentuating the ever-expanding role social media plays in PR. At the time I took his class, social media marketing was still in its somewhat early stages and primarily on Twitter. Learning to navigate and engage on social media had immediate and long-lasting benefits for my career."
Student: Jake Bunger, account executive at Jacht Ad Lab
Professor: Brian Reid, University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Journalism and Mass Communications; MD, W2O Group
"Brian truly inspired me as much as he educated me – and he taught me a lot. 'Strive for greatness' has become my mantra after working with Brian, who I fully consider a mentor. He showed me there is always another tweak that can be made to turn something that is just good into something that is really great. With his help and the skills he taught me, I was able to land an internship with PepsiCo in New York City this summer."
Student: Melanie Baucom, financial disclosure clerk at the House Committee on Ethics
Professor: Lesley Lopez, The George Washington University Strategic PR program; director of comms for the US China Business Council
"When you leave a class with life lessons as valuable as the professional lessons you learned, that was a worthwhile class to have taken. Lesley taught me the importance of honesty and integrity in a future PR career. Communications professionals are frequently tasked with managing sensitive issues. When addressing those situations, our first job is to maintain a whole and undivided mind. To this day, that bit of advice still helps me."
Student: Joann Cazorla, social media coordinator and senior content writer at Acara Partners
Professor: John Powers, Quinnipiac University School of Communications; director of digital comms, Acara Partners
"I have such appreciation for John because of the direct impact he’s had on my career growth thus far. He always stressed the importance of striving for perfection, regardless of the expectations placed on you. He also continually emphasized the importance of a strong work ethic. He helped shape the dedicated professional I am today and that certainly played a major role in my earning a promotion after just two months with Acara Partners, despite being the youngest employee at the time."