Graduate Spotlight and Conversation with Program Director

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Date: October 5, 2017
Justin’s career extends from politics, to consulting and PR.
In this webinar, Justin shares his thoughts on GW’s Master’s in Strategic Public Relations online program and the impact it has made on his career.

Justin Evans (GW Alum)
Prof. Larry Parnell (GW Program Director)


Moderator: Hi everyone. Welcome to the George Washington University’s Master’s in Strategic Public Relations Online Webinar and thank you for taking the time to join us.
We are very happy to have Justin Evans with us today; he’s a graduate of GW’s Masters in Strategic Public Relations Online Program. Justin’s career has taken him from the political arena to PR and he’ll be here to share with us his unique perspective as a graduate of GW.
Also, joining us today is our Program Director, Professor Larry Parnell, who will be available for Q&A. Before I introduce you to our guests, let’s go over the logistics of today’s events. We will have a Q&A segment in the later part of our webinar but you are welcome to forward your questions via the Q&A menu at any time.
This webinar is scheduled for 45 minutes and if we’re not able to get to all of your questions, we’ll be happy to follow up with you. Now, I’d like to introduce you to our first guest. Justin Evans is a Senior Account Executive with the SAS Institute Government Practice. Before joining SAS, he worked for the South Carolina office of State Treasurer as Intergovernmental Director. His work history includes being a policy advisor to Governor Mark Sanford, as well as Political Director for Governor now UN Ambassador, Nikki Hailey.
Justin completed a BA in Political Science from Clemson University in 2006 and received his MA in Public Relations from GW in 2016. Justin is married to his wife, Jennifer, and they have one son, Judson, 20 months old and a baby girl due in early December. Congratulations, Justin.
And now I’d also like to introduce to you our Program Director and Associate Director of the award winning strategic public relations program at the Graduate School of Political Management, Larry Parnell. Professor Parnell has held Senior Communications positions in consulting on the client side and in politics. His roles include being a VP and group leader with Hill+Knowlton and Director of Global Public Relations at Ernst & Young LLP New York.
While at Ernst & Young, he was named PR Professional of the Year by PR Week Magazine 2003. Professor Parnell also holds an MBA from the University of New Haven and a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from Boston University. He is a frequent author and speaker on communications topics and is a member of the National Investors Relation Institute and the Public Relations Society of America, PRSA. Welcome Justin and Professor Parnell.
Prof. Parnell: Thank you very much.
Moderator: Absolutely. Let’s get started with you, Justin. Now thank you very much for being here today and welcome to all of our audience. Justin, I understand your career started in politics. Now what led you to PR? Can you tell us more about that?
Justin: Sure. To be quite honest with you, I kind of accidently fell into PR through the political world. When I was at – close to university studying public relations, I mean – excuse me – studying political science, kind of got involved in doing a lot of public speaking. I did a lot of – with the student legislature and I did a lot with some other avenues through my fraternity and other avenues.
They got into me some leadership roles that required a certain skillset around communication and I got really interested in even though I didn’t major in it in undergrad. And through politics, like I said, I kind of accidentally landed into politics. It was not my stated career goals. I was going to be a lawyer but I literally got lucky.
I was appointed to a position in Governor Sanford’s administration and through that sort of on the policy side of things I got a keen sense the skillset needed to communicate on behalf of policy ideas, initiatives, legislation both written and verbal communication and the ability to effectively communicate what it was that the governor was trying to do really piqued my interest and really made me appreciate just what a valuable skillset it is.
Moderator: Excellent. And how did you get into PR? How did you transition from politics into PR for you?
Justin: Well, I kind of – I wanted to – when I transitioned from the policy world into the political world, I definitely wanted to get to become more of a subject matter expert into strategic public relations particularly. It’s a skillset that’s valuable for many things from politics to the corporate world.
And I felt like it was the universal skill that something that I had enough interest in that I wanted to pursue at a graduate level, which led me to this program. The credentials that this program carried and the ease of which I was able to work and do this program at the same time made it very attractive to me.
Moderator: So now your career also – I mean you’re currently running your own consulting firm and you’re working as a senior account executive with SAS. So how was that career path for you?
Justin: Sure, through my work in politics at various different levels in state government, my most recent gig in state government ended 5 years ago was in the State Treasurer’s office, I was in a governmental director for the State Treasurer and did a lot around public relations there.
I managed the outreach and advocacy and advertising on behalf of our 529 state sponsored 529 program, as well as our own claim property program and then all of the legislative initiatives that the agency – that the treasury office was engaged in whether through the advocacy on behalf of the state budget or any of the number of other things that we did within the organization.
But having that political background was attracted to SAS, which is the company that I worked for. And I do also have a political consulting firm on the side that I do a lot work with. Evans public affairs that I do, I do a lot of candidate work and I do a lot of super pack in 50124 issue advocacy work. All of which sort of utilizes the skills that I got from this degree.
But as far as how I landed into doing that, SAS sort of recruited me out of that world because I had those governmental skills and I had the ability to build those relationships and sort of get into the conversation when folks were trying to decide on what software packages they wanted, what was their initiative and how best did we solve that problem and then knowing who to talk to is probably the most important aspect of that job.
But then one you’re in the door, you got to know what to say and how to say it. And that’s where a lot of that public relation skills comes in. So I kind of landed on doing my own consulting thing and after I joined SAS, I realized that I still had the political bug. And so I started doing a little bit of consulting for some folks just very, very minimal and it kind of grew over the years.
And in this most recent presidential, I did a tremendous amount with doing a super pack in the presidential primary down here in South Carolina and did a lot of data work. Sort of the practical application of a lot of what I learned around market research in this degree was applied. We did a lot of polling, we did a lot of issue advocacy work specific around defining voters.
So we had to figure out who our audience was, we had to figure out what it was we wanted to say to them. What it was they wanted to hear and then what medium through which we needed to deliver that message. And we did so very effectively and I can tell you first hand this program was instrumental in helping me sort of arrive at that part of my life.
Moderator: Excellent. And what was your thought process? I mean you have obviously a very strong political background and you majored in PR. But what was your thought process for going back to school to obtain your Masters in Strategic Public Relations?
Justin: Well, I mean working in this world everybody who’s ever been a part of that world can understand the value of public relations professional. That skill set is something that is in short supply I believe as far as professional PR folks. There’s a lot of people out there that claim to be PR folks that just aren’t.
So being able to have the credential behind my name was something that really gave me a reason to do it, to be more legitimate in the field, to stand out amongst a lot of the folks that claim to be PR folks but don’t – haven’t actually studied it, haven’t actually earned a degree in it and don’t have an credentials to back up their smooth talk.
Moderator: Right. And how did you find the difference between going back for a formal degree versus before your education? How was that for you?
Justin: So one of the things that attracted me to this program was the fact that I didn’t have to be there but I had to have work experience. It’s one thing and this is totally my opinion but if you go straight from college into a graduate program, you’re still in school mode. You don’t know what the real world is about yet for most people. Some people do.
I would have not found this program to be as valuable as I did had I not had real world experience. And the requirement of having 5 years of real world experience made the subject matter and the studying more relevant, made the course material more relevant and it made me come at the program with a different perspective that I would not have had had I been on campus straight out of college just checking a box to get a Master’s degree because that was the next thing to do because finding work is hard for a college grad with 4-year degree.
Moderator: Absolutely. And why did you choose GW? What was the motivation behind that decision?
Justin: Well, there’s a lot of sort of opinions out there about online degrees and are they real, are they relevant, you go down the list. When you have a school like GW with a name that comes with a degree, you know you’re not going to get shorted on the education that you’re going to get simply because you’re not in the room sitting in the class. That was important to me. I didn’t want to just check a box.
To simply have the credentials is one thing, you could do that by going to a much less strenuous program doing a lot less work and paying a lot less money. But that wasn’t interesting to me. What interested me about GW was the fact that it was a legitimate school with a legitimate program, legitimate guest speakers, legitimate professors that have real-world experience that you’re just not going to find at a lot of other schools, a lot of other programs that were similar to that or at least advertised to be similar to this.
Moderator: Right. And can you share with us some memorable moments within the program? What stood out for you the most about your experience with GW’s program?
Justin: Sure. I mean I think the most memorable experience that I had was the capstone project at the end. It’s one thing to go through class, learn the material, take the test, do the work, write the papers. It’s another thing to put it all together and have a sort of a real-world application to what it is that you’re learned. That was a really awesome experience, I had a lot of fun doing that. I did it around an issue that was very, very passionate about and it was very rewarding.
Moderator: Do you recall what the topic of your capstone project was?
Justin: Absolutely, yeah. Definitely, I’m happy to share. I did – I kind of surmise that a lot of the problems that child welfare agencies around the country have as far as getting funded by public entities whether it’s the state or non-profits or anything else, their shortage of the tension that they get are tied back to communication problems whether it’s communication within the agency to case workers whether it’s within the agency to the general assembly.
Whether it’s with the general assembly to the general public or the agency to stakeholder groups and was able to do research on that interviewing folks at the agency, case workers, directors, division directors, all the way up to the agency head. And sort of confirm my hypothesis that we do in fact have a communication problem.
And that problem can be solved and then applying what I learned to sort of – we didn’t actually carry out the plan but we created the plan – or I created a plan to sort of solve that problem with outreach really, it was really rewarding. I’ve actually taken my research to the agency and I’ve talked to the agency and to the governor’s office.
And some of the things that I have suggested would be solutions to some of the communication problems that they’re having. They’re actually putting into practice. So that’s what’s really rewarding about it. It’s one thing to write a cool paper and do some cool research. It’s another thing to actually see real world application of what you’ve done take place and actions that you suggested through your research being implemented. It’s really rewarding.
Moderator: Oh wow. And how did you find your interaction with your classmates? Can you describe that experience?
Justin: Oh sure. I probably should have said that this was another attribute or another very attractive thing for me as far as this program. Being able to interact with people from all across the – really the world, there were several folks that were in our program that were international. But being able to have that access to folks that are real-world practitioners in PR that are seeking their degrees, same as you.
They may come from totally different walks, totally different backgrounds, socioeconomic status, you name it, it was really cool. And I think that having that ease with which we were able to communicate via the online site was very beneficial. We were able to work together on projects, do things that – communicate on course lectures and things that were really interesting and share those thoughts to everybody that was in the groups. It made it very good.
Moderator: So if we were just speaking here and the capstone project is really quite intriguing. And I also want to hear Professor Parnell’s perspective because he’s obviously the Program Director and he’s sitting on the perspective of the faculty member. Larry, would like to chime in and maybe just contribute to our discussion?
Prof. Parnell: Yeah, absolutely. I’m just sitting here loving this because it’s exactly what we designed the program to do. I’ve been with the program since the beginning and our focus has always been on applied strategic public relations. And I’m just thrilled to hear what Justin is saying.
The capstone project is at the end of your time with us and we’ve extended it now towards an individual project that you choose, as Justin has indicated, a topic that you’re interested and passionate about. We don’t assign you to do analysis of the Tylenol case or something. We much prefer that a student comes forward with something they care about because frankly, they have skin in the game. They’re much more motivated to do it.
And in capstone environment, you see how the students apply the research, the media relation strategy, budgeting, crisis management, etc. Whatever they decide to focus on. And I will tell you from 9.5 years of experience with this, that Justin’s case is not unique in regards that many of our students are engaged in projects with our capstone that are personally important to them and very often, which is exciting to see, their employers or potential employers ask them to execute what it is they’ve put forward in the plan. Or at a minimum, many times our students use our capstone project as part of a discussion with a potential employer to show their capability and their skill set.
So I’m loving what you’re saying, Justin, about that. We had many examples both online and on campus where students have done projects on fundraising and awareness for autism because of a member of their family. They’ve worked for major trade associations and can propose initiatives regarding using cell phones for healthcare, delivery systems and have been engaged to do that.
Or as you’ve indicated pass it onto those people who cooperated with you during the project. And you can see things that you research and proposed being done. That’s very satisfying to us and I know from what Justin is saying that the students, it’s very satisfying for them. So I’m enjoying what you’re saying, Justin. Thanks for saying what we’ve tried so hard to do for the last 10 years.
Justin: Sure. And the one thing I would add about this project itself was when you’re talking about the [unintelligible 00:18:48] is you’re talking about the most needy folks in my opinion in government. You’re talking about orphan children that are in the system and they totally the forgotten population.
And in as much as it’s satisfying to see my work being put into application, what’s more satisfying is seeing real-world results such as the – I’m not saying it’s directly related to my work per se but the work that we were able to do from a PR perspective with the agency helped the agency to get $10 million additional dollars in the state budget.
Well, what does mean? That means the got – I think it was 150 new case workers. And as a result of that over the last 24 months, the incident rate, the death rate of the children in the system has gone down. All that came about as a result of public relations and communications.
Better communications to the general assembly through this resulted in more money to the agency which was put in practice to save lives. So it’s not a direct correlation but it just goes to show you the gravity with which your work in public relations can have real world results and affect real people in a real way.
Prof Parnell: I think that’s awesome and the passionate that is coming through about this kind of work is really critical and that’s what we find in a lot of our students. We all love the business but more and more we’re finding students are engaged in issues and challenges they care about. And through this program, they find a way to really act on that and make a difference.
And for us, that’s very gratifying as well to see someone’s passion turned into results and society benefitting from it. That’s what we’re all about and that’s just a perfect example of why this program is so gratifying to be associated with for all these years. And I want to thank you for pointing that out to us.
Justin: Yes, sir.
Moderator: Yeah, I’m sure a lot of our audience here want to know how you balance it all, Justin, in terms of like work, family obligations. I know you have a new born coming up in December and going to school back in the days. All of that. How did you manage all of that? What was the secret recipe for success per se?
Justin: Don’t sleep.
Prof Parnell: Yeah, I manage, it’s all about that.
Justin: To be honest with you, the course is very good about helping you sort of early on to sort of understand time management, how to manage all the different aspects of your life. They’re not going to give you more than you can handle. You just got to do a good job of handling it. The only drawback that I would say to being online versus in person is it makes it a lot more difficult to self-police if you will, to govern yourself to make sure you do get the work done on time.
You sort of have to commit to – you don’t have anybody looking over your shoulder, you don’t have a class to show up. You do have things that you have to do that show that you are present and involved in the class but you don’t have to log in from 10-12 every Tuesday and Thursday as if you were walking into a classroom.
So it makes it difficult at first but you get really used to it and the instructors and the assistants do a good job of making sure that you’re staying engaged. And if you do have a little trouble with that, they’re very good about working with you to make sure that you have the time you need to do what it is that is required of you.
Prof Parnell: Perhaps here Kira should talk a bit about the outline of the program and give Justin a break from all this hard work he’s doing talking to us.
Moderator: Absolutely. So I have here –
Prof Parnell: – I mean we’re all enjoying this conversation but he’s carrying all the water here, which is fine with me. But I think it might be helpful just to pause a bit and walkthrough the details of the program. And then we can circle back and give him a chance to talk some more if that’s okay with you Justin.
Justin: That’s fine. Yes, sir.
Prof Parnell: Okay, so I think you’ve got the slide up there now. I think what I want to talk about clearly, we’ve heard a lot from Justin about the program. We’re pleased the programs are recognized by industry as well as major news media for the work we do. We are actually – the school that we’re a part of, the grad school political management is just begun. The photos you’re seeing in the background are from our 30th anniversary launch party here by the US Capitol.
So the school was founded over 30 years ago. The SPR program is in its 10th year and we’ve been online from the very beginning. So we probably have in excess of 300-400 alums from both of our two platforms and as many as 5 or 7 years out in their careers. And we’re seeing significant benefits to them in terms of promotions, raises, new responsibilities, all that sort of stuff. We track our alumni very carefully, keeping track with them.
Let’s look at the elements of the program specifically, Kira, there’s a slide on that coming up I believe. Thank you, so basically for everyone’s background sort of this level set of – we’re talking about 10 3-hour credit courses or 30 hours in university speak of course time. The courses run for 6 weeks at a time. You only take one course at a time considering that you’re covering in 6 weeks what we cover in 10 to 12 or 14 weeks on campus. We think one class at a time is just fine. It also allows you to balance things out as Justin has indicated.
So you’re in a position if you flow through this on a regular basis without any interruptions, you can complete the Master’s degree in less than a year and a half. This is the same degree, there is no asterisk, there is no caveats is the one that our students on campus get, there’s no difference in terms of the course work, in terms of the professors, in terms of the expectations or the currency in the marketplace that this degree provides. Don’t feel you’re discounting that in any way.
Really, it’s designed for people who don’t – can’t relocate to Washington, D.C. because they’re involved in their careers, their families or in many cases, we have members of the military, you get deployed and are able to connect to this program from around the world as Justin has just indicated.
But they’re anxious to get the DC experience and connection. I want to talk a bit about that because I think it’s important to understand. This program and our school, while we’re a part of George Washington University while we’re in Washington, D.C. is not only for students who are interested in careers in public or government.
Certainly, it is valuable in that respect but whether or not you intend to pursue a career in politics or government, we feel strongly you have to understand politics and government as a stakeholder in your career and in your clients or your company’s work. So it’s not enough to – many programs will teach you a lot about communications and we do that as well, of course.
But adding onto that is an understanding of how things work or these days don’t work in Washington and what that means for you as a communications profession and how you manage your way through that.
When you’re in a situation with a client or a company or a non-profit where you’re working and you’re trying to understand an issue, one of the elements you have to understand is how that issue’s going to be played out in Washington, D.C. whether it’s product related, whether it’s policy related or whether it’s some demographic group that you’re concerned about. There’s always an element of Washington, D.C. [unintelligible 00:27:09].
And local politics as well comes into play. So again, if you have – it’s not necessarily exclusively for them but it does give you that skillset. I will also talk about the residencies which are really cool things. We just started about 3 or 4 years ago. The residency program as you can see in the background as we’re talking, it takes place in eight countries around the world and many of our online and on campus students use one of their electives to take these courses.
This one is London but we have them also in Brussels, Sao Paolo, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Johannesburg in Africa. The course work is basically done online and then you go to that market floor a week to 10 days where you meet with public officials, media, executives, reporters, public affairs people, public relations people, not-profits, NGOs and really get a sense of what’s going on and what drives public opinion and perceptions in London or Hong Kong or Sao Paolo or Johannesburg and then you write a paper about the experience.
That part takes about a week. Obviously, you have – there’s a cost of getting there. Once you’re there, transportation is provided, etc. and you get to all these places. So the residencies are very cool, it’s unique to our program as far as we know. It’s certainly unique of an online perspective that we made it open to our online students as well.
Also on there in Washington, we have the capstone that Justin was talking about, students can as part of their capstone come to Washington, D.C. and participate in a similar experience go to the US Capitol, visit the White House, meet with the Washington Post, local newspapers, non-profits, associations, etc.
And that relates to their project or they’re just interested in it. They’re able to do that for – it’s the out-of-pocket cost of making the trip. And you get to the see the Washington US Capitol that you have in this photo now.
So again, to go to a university like George Washington and never set foot in DC is perhaps something that seems to be a missed opportunity. So we want to make that available to our students if they are in fact interested in that. it’s not required, it’s an option. Beyond that I think is there anything else I need to cover, Kira? Or do you want to take it from there?
Moderator: I think we’re good, Professor Parnell. So let’s go back to Justin. So I have here some snapshots so just screenshots of our course content. Can you speak a little bit about how the platform worked for you in terms of interaction with your faculty as well as classmates? Did you find it easy to navigate? Just maybe provide some insights about that?
Justin: Yeah, as far as the web application, I believe Professor Parnell, correct me if I’m wrong here but I believe the web app might have changed in between when I started and when I finished. I don’t mean to chime in on something you all talked about already but I did want to mention one thing. I had a big break in between when I started and when I finished because I had – my work started changed with the governor’s race down here.
And I was unable to – I had to take a break. I was unable to spend the time needed to do so. In other words, it was very flexible and easy for me to do that. But I think in that term if I remember right, the web application changed. So I got to see both the old and the new and it only got better and easier. It was always easy. The hardest thing was remembering your password. You know how that goes for everybody. Often times I had to call the GW helpdesk and get them to help me out there but that was never an issue.
Moderator: Yeah. And what was the support like from faculty, from student services and tech support, how was that for you?
Justin: It was great. I was able to reach out directly to – I didn’t feel any hesitation in reaching out to professors or assistants and getting almost instant response. Never did I feel like I wasn’t getting – I was being treated differently or I was not getting the response that I would have gotten on campus.
Prof Parnell: One thing to point out here is that how the GW [unintelligible 00:31:39], to the GW library, which you can access remotely via your computer. So all your research you can do using the GW facilities and the affiliations with other schools in the area. You have access to our career services people who help people with making decisions about where to go and how to proceed and where the opportunities might be. We have a full-time dedicated careers service person who just looks after our students.
So we try to make this process as smooth as possible for you. I think the other thing I wanted to go back is when you said earlier, which I thought was really important, Justin, that was the idea of a credential. I think it was important as we as a profession, public relations I’m talking about, that sort of struggled with the issue of how do we credentialize PR and some of you may be aware of there is [unintelligible 00:32:35] associations that offer certification as a public relation professional and training programs. Those are all very good and useful.
The problem that you have with that is that people don’t – and clients don’t pay you more and management doesn’t pay you more if you went to an industry sponsored trade meeting where you took some training. But if a Master’s degree is recognizable and has currency in the marketplace and people and companies will – they understand that.
I think that’s a very key point you made before. Going through the training session at PRSA is one thing. Getting a Master’s degree is another. And it represents hard work and achievement on your part and dedication to their profession as well as a credential that has the people who are not in PR understand and appreciate.
So I think as the industry grows up and becomes more critical to successful companies and candidates and non-profits. They’re looking people who are committed professionals who got the initial training and experience that a Master’s program like ours provides. And it’s a distinguishing factor when they get down to making hiring decisions. We have both anecdotal and increasingly document evidence of that.
Moderator: So speaking of that topic that Professor Parnell mentioned in terms of the application, impact on the career, Justin, personally you graduated last year. Has the program impacted your career? Do you feel it has better positioned you to achieve your career aspirations? And if so, how?
Justin: Well, it’s kind of difficult to answer that. I guess I’ll say this, I finished the bulk of – the only thing I had left to do was the capstone. So I’ve had for years now taken all the classes, I just – it took me a while to finish the – to actually sit for the capstone and all that kind of stuff. But to the extent that it helped me career, absolutely. I started this process a while back and right after the governor campaign 2010 in fact.
And throughout that – everything that I learned in the bulk of the course material itself has absolutely helped me in my career in terms of focusing like I was saying earlier – focusing all of my efforts which I almost solely related to public relations knowing who to say what to and how best they wanted to hear it is the core of what I have to do both as a salesperson and as a political consultant is the advice that I have to give my candidates.
In the time that which I got to sit for the capstone and finally got the time to do that and knock it out. As far as actually having the degree itself, the physical piece of paper, I haven’t really – I haven’t had it long enough to know what the impact is. As far as my company, unfortunately, Larry, unfortunately, [unintelligible 00:35:42] isn’t one of those companies that helped you out with a Master’s in public relations. So I kind of was on my own there. But they prefer –
Prof Parnell: – A lot of companies do actually provide raises and financial support for tuition too.
Justin: Yes, they do prefer that all their employers have a Master’s. So that was one of those things that they do look for in hiring. Unfortunately, I kind of came in in a different circumstance but it is a good consideration that our employment make. They do make that consideration. They don’t – unfortunately, it’s one of those things where they get sort of the best of the best and they don’t really help on the back end. If you go and you want to get – if you’re working there and you wanted to get a degree, it’s not one of the things where they help tuition offset or anything like that.
But they do recruit specifically they use as part of their marketing materials in business-to-business transactions about how could the educational level of their workforce, how many people have Master’s, how many people have Ph.D.’s and it is a tremendous asset to have when they’re sitting for interviews and things like that. But as far as my personal – the paper itself hasn’t helped as much as the class application and the material that we learned. That’s been invaluable.
Moderator: Thank you, Justin. So before we go to our final question for Justin, I’d like to welcome our audience members, if you have any questions for either Professor Parnell or Justin, please forward them and we’ll get them answered throughout this webinar here. And Justin, do you have any final thoughts for someone who maybe looking into the program? What’s your tip of success would be? Any word of the wise to them?
Respondent: Well, yeah, if your thought process was a lot like mine and you’re looking to – if you’re trying to answer the question of what is this going to do for me, think beyond the paycheque. Think beyond simply checking a box that you want to get a Master’s degree because it’s something you’ve always wanted to do or whatever your reasoning is and think more this is a set of skills that you’re going to hone in on that are invaluable in a market place that is rapidly changing.
No matter how much advanced technology there is in this world, there will always be a need for public relations specialists, always. No matter what the market trends to do, tends to do in the future, they’re always going to have to have people on the backend that know how to communicate and communicate effectively.
And that to me is my main motivating factor and anybody who’s looking to make a decision on this degree, this is the best avenue to do that. if you need the flexibility of time and geographic location. And as far as are you going to get the best instruction, GW by far you can look at the other programs but you’ll always come back.
This is a legit program at a legit school and you’re going to get a legit skillset that’s going to translate in whatever career field you’re in. Doesn’t matter if it is universally applicable.
Prof Parnell: If I could just chime in here, I think that’s an important point you’re raising. Often as I go out and meet with prospects and some of the questions I get asked are exactly that, how will it help my career? But I also get asked as you might imagine, why GW? And is online okay?
What I tell people is exactly is what you were just alluding to. As these programs have become more common and the marketplace like your employer is looking for people with Master’s degrees, they’re distinguishing between candidates based on where that degree comes from.
I tell students, undergrads all the time and people not – in the workforce now without a Master’s degree that where you get your Master’s degree from is probably as critical if not more critical than where you got your undergraduate degree from, especially in the current environment. So it’s very important from a marquee value resume building perspective that you were able to put on your background, your CV that you have an advanced degree from the institution with a global reputation for excellence like GW.
That is critically important and as people are finding out, some programs are finding out that smaller schools that are known regionally well that fine schools that are not known in Washington, New York, LA, Chicago or London, it doesn’t have currency. But a degree from a recognized global institution like GW has currency and is very valuable to have on your resume wherever your career takes you. Do you have some questions here that we can with the audience?
Moderator: That’s right. A number of our audience would like to know what your weekly schedule looks like? Like how many hours per week or per day are you spending dedicating to your studies when you were in the program?
Justin: I’d say on average I probably spent 2 hours a day maybe and some days less and we’re talking Monday through Friday. And the bulk of that time is reading and that sort of thing. Some people can do it faster than others. I’m just saying on average, 10 hours a week was what I kind of recall spending.
Prof Parnell: That’s outside of the time that you’re online and classroom, right?
Justin: That’s correct, yeah, sorry. And then there were sometimes where you’re listening to presentations, lectures, guest lectures, those types of events that do happen from periodically. But still, I don’t recall it being a tremendous time commitment. At the most I would say 15 hours a week then. Does that sound about right, Larry?
Prof Parnell: That’s what most of the [unintelligible 00:42:07]. Yeah, it’s about 15 hours a week. And also, you can do that anytime during the day or night, on the weekend as your schedule allows you to do it. So that’s the advantage of an online program.
Moderator: So it looks like we have a few minutes left until the end of our session. And I just want to mention to you we are currently accepting applications for the spring term. Marie Alouche is the enrollment advisor. She’s a lovely lady and very extremely help to help you navigate the application process.
The deadline is approaching but we are still accepting applications for the January 15 start date. You can see Marie’s contact information there on the screen. In terms of the application requirements, she’ll help you go through the process. There’s the application form, there’s the statement of purpose, resume, three recommendations and your transcripts. And perhaps writing samples but she will work with you to address your specific case for each application.
We also want to mention October 30, so towards the end of the month we are holding a course sampler where you get to have a sneak preview of what it’s like to be a student of GW Master’s in Strategic Public Relations Program and you actually have the chance to study, submit your assignment, get them graded, hear feedback from faculty. And we’re going to be sending out invitations for attendance to the course sampler starting next week. So please look forward to your inbox and RSVP as soon as possible to reserve your seating as seating is limited.
So once again, it’s October 30th for the course sampler and January 15th for the spring course so that you can begin your graduate studies with GW. So we thank you so much to Justin Evans and Professor Parnell for providing insights about GW Master’s in Strategic Public Relations program. It’s great for you to offer your perspectives from the standpoint as a learner and a faculty.
And to our attendees, I hope you have found our webinar informative and stimulating. Thank you so much for spending your lunch hour with us. You are passionate about PR and want to equip yourself with the right knowledge and expertise to make an impact in the ever-changing communications landscape to find out how our program can help you achieve your goals.
Please reach out to our enrollment advisor. Information is on the screen here. And we look forward to having you join us and become one of our great many alumni come Spring 2018. Thank you so much, everyone, to audience.
Prof Parnell: I just want to point out one thing before you get off quickly, if anyone of you are going to be planning on attending the public relations society conference in Boston, which is next week., we will be there. We have two panels we’re offering on non-profits and a panel on big data analytics where I’ll be speaking with a colleague. And there’s going to be a series of events that will be on the booth – on the exhibit floor with a booth. Stop by and see us. Chat about the program. We’ll be happy to meet you in person to answer your questions.
Moderator: I believe you’re also going to be holding the reception to celebrate the upcoming publication of your book with Professor [Janice]?
Prof Parnell: Oh yeah, that’s true. Thank you for bringing that up. Yes, it’s funny, I normally – I’m involved in organizing events for people. It was surprising for me to get an invitation to an event that the publisher’s putting on for our new book, which actually inspired and based on a lot of the work we’ve done in this program.
Dr. Janice Page and I cover up this introductory book to Strategic Public Relations that we’ll be using in the program but more importantly, it reflects a lot of our alumni giving activities and their work outside – in the US and around the country. It was a lot of work and we’re looking forward to happy hour celebration on Monday evening in the hotel headquarters.
Moderator: Excellent. Well, thank you so much, everyone. And I wish you all a happy day and enjoy the rest of the week. Until next time, I hope to have you in the program. Take care.
Prof Parnell: Thanks so much to everyone. Look forward to meeting you, bye.
Justin: Thank you all, bye.
Moderator: Bye-bye now.