Broom Student Fellows Reflect on Boost from Program

Saturday, May 23, 2020

The Broom Student Fellows program invests in future professionals with tailored professional opportunities. As a cornerstone in the Broom Initiative, the program is designed for students who have grit and are taking initiative, even before they enter the industry.

In January, four graduating public relations majors were competitively selected to be in the inaugural class of Broom Student Fellows.

Meet the PR pros that are going to ignite the industry: Chelsea Heath, Alexis Hopper, Mariah Hugo and McKenna Wecker.

This is their experience, in their own words.

Experience of a Lifetime

The program includes a mix of a PR finishing school, book club and networking:

  • The most formal element was tailored group executive coaching program with Anna Dearmon Kornick of ADK Strategies. We call her the Marie Kondo of time management. We woke up bright, early and with bare faces at 7 a.m. for bi-weekly coaching sessions with Anna. We learned strategies related to time management, career goal setting, prioritization, balance and personal development. We sharpened our pitching skills by pitching ADK to the media. Anna taught us that time management starts with heart management. And now we know that we can have it all.

  • An agency trip to Seattle turned this program into the “Fellowship of the Traveling Broomies.” We toured two top PR agencies and chatted with powerhouse professionals, including the all-stars at Allison+Partners Seattle. The opportunity to connect with agencies outside of the San Diego area allowed us to broaden our horizons and hear about opportunities outside the norm. We squeezed in sightseeing at the Space Needle, Great Wheel and Pike Place Market.

  • Small group, salon type meetings with industry professionals helped us form meaningful connections that skyrocketed our professional development.

  • A graduation “brunch” was hosted with Dr. Betty Broom. Although a worldwide pandemic prohibited us from having an in-person brunch, we met Dr. Betty Broom virtually. She is the wife of the Broom Center’s namesake, Dr. Glen Broom. Together they wanted to invest in people who push the profession forward. The fellows told her about their experience in the program and heard about Dr. Broom’s vision from her.

  • Working toward the Certificate in Principles of Public Relations, funding from Scott Allison covered our examination fees so we can further stand out when we start out.

Growing into the Practitioners they Were Meant to Be

McKenna: This program catapulted my confidence. I entered this year as a future graduate with big dreams and limited tools to chase after them. Before this program I didn’t have the courage to ask for informational interviews or coffee chats with professionals. Now I am a Sweetser-trained, PR graduate who isn’t afraid to be bold and is confident in my ability to succeed in the PR world.

Chelsea: The Broom Student Fellows helped me recognize my value as a practitioner. I have the confidence to turn my goals into reality. Anything is possible with hard work and grit. 

Alexis: The Broom Student Fellows helped me grow my confidence as a practitioner. This program allowed me the chance to have access to professional contacts, agency tours, a professional time management coach and growth of my soft skills as a young PR professional. As a group we never stopped saying yes and reaching for our goals. Even during a global pandemic the fellows continued to connect with professionals, stay connected with each other and exercise our skills as practitioners.

Mariah: The Broom Student Fellows program refined my skills. I didn’t know how to channel my conversations into stronger connections or the best practices on reaching out to professionals. We learned from Dr. Sweetser and other industry experts about the PR world after our graduation. They answered our questions with practical advice and pointers on starting our careers. We’re stepping into the world as resilient and brave.

Making Memories

Chelsea: My favorite memory was standing on top of the Space Needle feeling like I was on top of the world. We spent the previous day touring agencies and meeting PR powerhouses. For the first time in my life it truly felt as if possibilities were endless. It felt like everything I had been working toward was right within my grasp.

Alexis: My favorite memory was our Broomies dinner in Seattle. In that moment I realized how much this program is impacting my life as a young PR professional. Having the opportunity to sit down with the other fellows and Dr. Sweetser and discuss our goals, dreams and futures and to know that all that was reachable, was a turning point in my semester.

Mariah: I loved our dinner at Matt’s in the Market. The Broom Student Fellows became closer that night. We shared plates and swapped stories about our favorite PR experiences. Our conversations covered professional and personal goals. Dr. Sweetser talked about her hopes for us and the program. We’re young professionals, and the dinner helped me realize that we can always support each other.

McKenna: My favorite memory was our dinner in Seattle at Pike Place Market. We dove deep into conversations about our experience in the program so far and our hopes for the future. That dinner was a bonding moment. The opportunity to have intellectual conversations with peers and mentors in the industry doesn’t happen often. Conversations like that remind me why I love public relations.

Contributing to Dr. Broom’s Legacy

Alexis: I will always remember to push the status quo and continue to invest in making the profession better. Dr. Broom believed in mentorship and investing in those who push the status quo, I will continue to work with this in mind and be my best professional while mentoring and helping in any way I can.

Mariah: Dr. Broom changed the future of public relations with his own relationships. He mentored other students and left his office door open to them. I will do the same. I’m supporting my PR friends by celebrating their successes and listening to their concerns. I’m building relationships with professionals who care about me and my career goals. When I have an opportunity to mentor a younger professional, I will—just like Dr. Broom.

McKenna: None of us learned from Dr. Broom himself, but we learned from the people that carry on his legacy and we will do the same. The spirit of Dr. Broom lives within the Broom Center and those whose lives he touched. In a Zoom meeting, we heard from Dr. Sweetser and Dr. Betty Broom about Dr. Broom’s love for teaching the internship class because of how much the students grew as practitioners. The Broom fellows strive to push the practice forward because we are the future of the profession.

Chelsea: Dr. Broom is regarded as the professor of the profession. While we didn’t get the opportunity to meet him, I still consider myself one of his students. His legacy and passion for the profession continues through us in our work ethic, our initiative and grit. We’re not afraid to get scrappy and we don’t take no for an answer. We’re committed to investing in ourselves through opportunities that also invest in the practice.

Advice for future Broomies

Chelsea: Challenge yourself. Take the risks. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people you don’t know. Never underestimate the power of human connection. There are professionals that have been in your shoes – listen to their advice. Know your worth and trust that you bring value to everything you do. Most importantly, find ways to invest in yourself outside of the classroom and beyond your degree.

Alexis: Take each moment and run with it. Do not let an event, opportunity or any chance to improve your skills pass by. Invest in this program and it will invest back to you. Take the time to go the extra mile and listen to the advice that is given to you. Seek help from the other fellows and support each other and form a bond that is farther than professional.

Mariah: Support your peers. The relationships that you make now will strengthen your career trajectory. Remember that you’re human. You won’t have all of the answers for yourself, but someone in your network might. Give back. There’s a family, a community, a network who invested in you and your growth. Lift them up, and you’ll stay strong.

McKenna: Be scrappy. Be tenacious. Be confident in yourself and what you’ve learned. Follow every opportunity because it may lead to something great. Listen to the words of wisdom from your professors, peers and mentors because they want to watch you succeed. Invest in your own growth and you’ll be rewarded. Use this time to make your mistakes and learn from them. Lastly, support each other. If you hype up your peers, they’ll do the same for you. I’m proud to say I’ve made lifelong friends in this program and I hope the future Broomies can say the same.

Looking toward the Class of 2021 Broomies

The Broom Student Fellows program will run every spring semester. San Diego State University PR majors in the School of Journalism & Media Studies can apply at the end of the fall semester. The fellows are selected for how they embody the values of the Broom Center and how the Broomies would connect as a team.

Support the professional development of the Broom Student Fellows and more students who benefit from Broom Initiative projects by donating to the Broom Center today.

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