May 20, 2022

The Westfield Voice

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PR professional speaks at Owl’s Nest

3 min read


  • Suzanne Boniface of Springfield previously served as president of the Westfield State Alumni Association’s Executive Council. She is a 1992 magna cum laude graduate of Westfield State with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication. photo by westfieldalumni.org

Public Relations professional and 1992 WSU alumnus Suzanne Boniface graced a full house at the Owl’s Nest in Ely on Wednesday for an informative session discussing how to properly position oneself in today’s competitive job market.

Prior to taking the floor, Boniface’s knowledge, experience and integrity were highly endorsed by Associate Professor John Paulmann of the Communication department, who remembered her as one of his favorite students. Boniface was a recipient of the Judith White LaFonde Award, the department’s highest honor, as well as a Blue Key Award and Leadership Award winner in her time at Westfield State.

Despite these impressive accolades and a successful career spanning nearly 20 years in the field of public relations, Boniface warned, when finding a job, “do not make the same mistakes I made, or that I’ve seen others make.”

Even the most impressive résumé cannot forestall the burden of a grueling job search out of college, especially in a recession similar to the one Boniface entered in the early 1990s. She stated that the workload and time required to conduct a strong job search could be compared to that of a part-time job.

Following this brief precursor, Boniface began her presentation with helpful advice to the audience: be prepared, in more ways than one. Be prepared to tailor your résumés, cover letters and recommendations to better serve the requirements expected of certain jobs. Be prepared to bring a materials portfolio on interviews that showcase what you have learned in school. Be prepared online, with clean and neat profiles on social media websites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. And, most discouragingly of all, be prepared to take a job under your skill level.

But don’t fret. She explained that it is normal for even the most ambitious and goal-oriented students to start small out of college. Boniface shared the story of a fellow WSU alum who struggled to find a job after completing her degree, settling for a position as an administrative assistant.

Through perseverance and hard work, her colleague was able to earn promotion after promotion, expanding her portfolio and branding herself as an elite professional in marketing and public relations until she was courted to join the prominent, 500-person advertising agency of Hill Holiday, who discovered her LinkedIn profile and offered her a job.

Boniface defined her success as a direct result of strong preparation, positioning and networking. For a competitive advantage, she suggested that seniors ask for references immediately and create a professional blog that links to marketing and public relations articles to exude professionalism.

Most crucially, job candidates must expect anything when interviews come along. She stressed that candidates should put themselves in the interviewer’s position by researching tough questions and interviewing techniques they might experience.

Boniface answered questions from the audience, most notably elaborating on what it takes to be successful in public relations. Multitasking is a must. Boniface now handles five social media accounts and websites across five different companies, enthusiasm for the subject and professionalism are key, and direct results must be proven to show your worth to companies.

Boniface expertise was readily apparent throughout the helpful session as she eased the minds of the students, who basked in the wonder of what their future career will bring.

 

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