Journey from Student-Run Firm to Global Firm

By: Allison Lilly

As one of the founding members of Penn State’s student-run public relations firm, Laura Peck knew that agency life was for her. She also knew Washington D.C. was her ideal city to live upon graduating Penn State. Both of Laura’s goals soon came to fruition, as she is now living in the nation’s capital working at the global public relations firm Burson-Marsteller!

Originally from Dartmouth, Mass., Laura graduated from Penn State in May 2010 with a degree in public relations and a triple minor in English, sociology and international studies.  Her resume is full of experiences from founding Penn State’s student-run public relations firm and being a director of chapter development for Penn State PRSSA. Additionally, Laura has been on an executive board every year during her college experience (either PRSSA or Blue & White Society). In March of her senior year, Laura utilized Help a PR Pro Out (HAPPO) to discover her summer internship, which was part of the Herald Burson summer internship program. Laura was one of 17 interns, and remembers one particular day as a highlight of her summer. “I got to meet Herald Burson and present a request for proposal in front of him,” she said.

Through interning at Burson, Laura heard about full-time job opportunities and was able to apply to the issues and crisis group. After three rounds of interviews, Laura landed her full-time position as a client staff assistant where she works with private and confidential clients. “Its really interesting working on issues that are so current that I have to keep them confidential,” Laura said. “I can’t even tell my grandfather what they are, but they are things that make national headlines.”

Laura said the issues and crisis department is so specialized, it is almost like a boutique within Burson. This department has handled crises such as the Virginia Tech tragedy. She said she enjoys working on current issues topics beside professionals who have worked in the industry for years. “I’m working with people with their own Wikipedia pages,” Laura said. “It is neat to work with these people with so much experience to offer.”

Through her new job, Laura is able to connect what she learned with Penn State PRSSA “Through PRSSA, even nationally, you get to see a bigger, broader view of what the industry is like, rather than learning press releases in class,” Laura said.

Penn State PRSSA’s guest speakers from various areas of the industry made her realize how broad the field is and that having background in many areas is beneficial to being successful. “Currently, I’m working with the healthcare dept of Burson. I would have never thought of healthcare PR,” Laura said. “Its all science based, like how something is affecting peoples health.”

Aside from chicken finger wraps and the Penn State Alumni Garden, Laura most misses everyone around her being a Penn Stater. “I the miss people recognizing and knowing words ‘Happy Valley, THON and Nittany Lion,” Laura said. “Its interesting and fun meeting a fellow Penn Stater out in the world because it’s a little piece of home.”

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