Nonprofit Panel Recap
On Tuesday, October 12, Temple PRSSA was joined by Erin McGrath of the Ronald McDonald House, and Shirley Carrillo of the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (ACUD). The women, both public relations professionals at nonprofits, were asked a series of questions so members could discover more about this sector, their careers, how the industry has changed and learn skills to better their futures.
Erin, a 2012 graduate from the University of Delaware, was a member of Gamma Sigma Sigma where she found her passion of working with animals and children, as well as volunteering and making a difference in her community. After graduating with a double major in English and Mass Communications, Erin started by volunteering in a management role for the Ronald McDonald House of Delaware. With this she reminded members that in non-profits, you may not start out where you would like to end up in your career – but one thing always leads to another. Following this volunteer role, Erin has since served as the marketing and communications manager for the Ronald McDonald House. In this role, she is responsible for developing outreach materials, providing communications support, coordinating press coverage, managing the organization’s social media, website and e-newsletter, and lastly maintaining the organization’s brand. Erin quickly realized how rewarding this sort of work is, and made sure to continue that sense of fulfillment in her professional career.
Shirley is a recent graduate from California State University Los Angeles, and now serves as the communications consultant for AUCD. Unsure of what she wanted to pursue, she graduated with a degree in mass communications to keep her options open. Shirley narrowed her options down by gaining internship experience in the media and entertainment industry, where she realized the lack of gratification she felt from doing this kind of work. She found that disability rights issues sparked her interest, which aligned with her passion to do work for organizations with meaningful causes. She landed an internship at her current job post-graduation, and later hired her for their new COVID-19 initiative. In her role, Shirley writes, edits and posts content to support AUCD’s engagement on things like webinars, newsletter articles, social media and the organization's website, along with monitoring analytics, and assisting in the coordination of activities with the communications team. She stressed that although the communications department was small, she found this organization was in desperate need of specialists in this area. Shirley continued to say that a lot of people don’t know how to utilize communications, but she’s excited to see how the industry continues to evolve and grow into something bigger.
Both Shirley and Erin were happy to give PRSSA members advice on how to make themselves stand out to employers in the nonprofit sector. The answers were fairly consistent between the two – they highlighted the importance of making yourself known to employers and dedicating time to volunteering. Shirley touched on how vocal she was during her internship at her current job, and saw that offering her feedback and insight on different topics showed her employers more about her as a person. In addition to this, Shirley told members that volunteering is an easy way to demonstrate their passion for different causes, and gives them valuable experience to put on a resume. Erin spoke on how important it is to share new ideas and make your work memorable, because good work speaks for itself most of the time. She also offered that there is no harm in reaching out to organizations even if they don’t have communications positions; as professionals in this area can do work in many different departments and offer new ideas to better the organization as a whole. The women lead two different lives, work for two different causes and live on opposite coasts; however, their strong work ethic, passion for helping others and creating change showed through – as they were both remembered by their employers as interns and were offered full-time opportunities.
This blog was written by Olivia Mianulli, Conference Coordinator.