Timing my Weber State University graduation with the falling 2005 economy was something I really couldn’t have avoided. I had multiple interviews with Public Relations agencies and organizations from across the country – from Washington, D.C., to Washington State. But as the saying goes, “Always a groomsman; Never a groom” (or something like that).
Twelve months after graduating with my B.A. in Communication with a PR emphasis, I was hired to an entry-level position at a local agency. Four months later, I was promoted to senior account executive to oversee the account services department for the agency, managing clients with a combined budget of more than $1.5 million.
Being the glutton for punishment that I am, I began pursuing a master’s from the University of Utah while usually working over 50 hours a week at the agency. But this go around, my timing was perfect. I earned my Master of Arts at the same time the agency folded, thus leaving me unemployed. However, my network of PR professionals from across Utah came through, and within two weeks I was working as a consultant at another agency before starting full-time employment at Primary Children’s Hospital as a communication specialist in late 2009.
My first assignment was to bring the well-known children’s hospital into the social media world. My only background in social media from an organizational standpoint was a 20-page paper I had written as a graduate student about how and why The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints uses social media. I quickly learned what worked and what didn’t work in the world of healthcare social media.
But a new opportunity presented itself to not only continue my work in social media, but to oversee the emerging communication tool at five Intermountain Healthcare hospitals in Salt Lake County. Eventually I took on an additional role as a spokesperson for the hospitals and have since been quoted on ESPN.com – and it wasn’t for my terrible jump shot.
Outside of work, I savor the opportunities to work with college students to help prepare them for their entrance into the industry. Twelve years ago, Chris Thomas (owner of Intrepid, a local PR agency) and I started the PR Student of the Year competition in Utah, which continues today. More recently, I have taken on the role of professional adviser to the Weber State University PRSSA chapter, in addition to serving as president-elect of the Greater Salt Lake PRSA chapter in 2016.
Author: Jason Carlton