As part of the Roadrunner TableTalk series, the Cahill Career Center invited Coyne PR’s Assistant Vice President Stacey Cooney to talk about her work in public relations and give career advice. The event was discussion-based, with a majority of the time being dedicated to attendees’ questions about topics related to PR, internships, job searching and networking.
Cooney began the event by talking a bit about her work at Coyne. Cooney said she was born and raised in New Jersey and works in-state, as well. Coyne is one of the top 20 PR firms in the country and their office is located in Parsippany. Originally, she said she started in an entry-level position seven years ago as an account coordinator supporting two people. Today, she works on a team of eight staff members supporting the third-largest client at the agency. But, she did not start her professional journey at Coyne.
“I always tell people that one of the biggest things I learned about myself getting started in my career is that you shouldn’t accept no and you shouldn’t say no,” she said. She used this advice as a segue into her story of how she came to work at Coyne.
Cooney completed her undergraduate education at Kean University as a PR major. During her time there, she said took on PR internships, the one she loved most being with the New Jersey Devils. She extended her internship with the Devils until it became part-time work after she graduated. That was the point she began looking for a career. She first applied to Coyne after hearing great things about them but did not get the job.
“So, I started applying to every single PR agency that was hiring in New Jersey and New York City, every single one. Probably 100 applications and did not hear back from most of them. So I started sending out applications to people that weren’t hiring,” she said.
Cooney did not let the lack of response stop her and got a call four months later about a part-time temporary position as an admin assistant on a PR team. She accepted the job. The position was supposed to last one month, but it got extended to three months and they began having her work almost full-time. When that role eventually expired, she reapplied to Coyne and was hired in under a week. She said she knew she wanted to be at Coyne and did not want to take no for an answer from them. She said that the part-time role was the experience she needed.
After her discussion about her job and story, the floor was opened for questions. One question involved resumes and what gets an employer’s attention when they read them. Cooney’s advice had two parts.
“Everybody says it to you, but proofread your resume… Find someone you are comfortable sharing that with and just let them look at it,” she said. She advised having someone you trust read over your resume to catch any errors. The other part of her advice involved how to let your skills shine on your resume.
“For me, it was multitasking, the ability to multitask. I knew in an agency setting, I was going to have to work on three different accounts… So I said something along the lines of how working in the customer service industry gave me the ability to multitask, to prioritize, to collaborate with a team,” she said.
During her part-time work with the Devils, she also worked as a waiter. Even if you do not directly have experience for a certain role, she said you can draw upon work from other environments to let important skills for that role shine.
She also gave advice on building a LinkedIn profile and interview etiquette and ended the discussion by talking about the importance of networking. She shared a story of how she and a co-worker had a conversation with a woman on the street in New York City after a PR event. They were waiting for an Uber and the woman told them about her work and gave them a business card. They ended up having an email exchange about a potential ad campaign contribution.
“Network, network, network, no matter where you are, whether you’re in the classroom or on the sidewalk,” she said.
Photo by Matthew Wikfors.