Interview by: Jaclyn Sarandrea
Stephanie Kotschevar is currently the Public Relations Manager for Experience Grand Rapids and has had the position for almost two years now. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Advertising and Public Relations from Grand Valley State University and is a Certified Tourism Ambassador. She became a part of the Tourism Industry by accepting the job offer from ExperienceGR and learning along the way. Along with having specific certifications, she is an active member of West Michigan Public Relations Society of America (WMPRSA) and Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).
What does a normal day look like on the job? (If there’s not a normal day, what has a recent day on the job look like, or what types of things do you spend most of your time on?)
“I am constantly working on media requests, looking for potential bloggers/journalists to pitch a Grand Rapids trip, and figuring out trip itineraries for upcoming journalist visits.”
What strengths or traits do you have that make you great at your job? Why?
“I’d say being an “outgoing” person helps me a lot in my job. I’m constantly meeting new people, spending days at a time with journalists I’ve just met, and trying to build connections and relationships in the community. If I was a shyer person, this might be more difficult.”
What are some skills that you would like to improve on? Why?
“I’m always looking to improve my networking and writing skills. Even though some would say those are my strengths, it’s important to continue to learn and grow.”
What has been one of the biggest problems you’ve had to solve at your current job? What did you learn from that?
“I started my first job right out of college. Going from being a student to a worker was a tough transition for me. Even though I had gone to school for Public Relations, I still felt like a fish out of water. Applying what I had learned in college, and being introduced to a field I wasn’t familiar with was tough. Eventually, I figured it out but I was very frustrated at first.”
What are some choices that you have made during your career that led you to your current position?
“When I started at Experience Grand Rapids I was hired in as the PR Specialist. After a year in the position I made it clear to my boss that I wanted to reach that next level in my career. I feel like many people are nervous to be outspoken about what they want, especially when it comes to a promotion. But, talking to my boss and letting her know that was what I was working towards helped motivate me to show her I was ready. I was promoted to PR Manager 6 months later.”
What advice would you have for a student or recent graduate interested in working at a job like yours?
“I have advice for students or recent graduates looking for any job: don’t stress too much. Getting your first job is hard, don’t beat yourself up if you don’t land your ‘dream job’ or if you get passed up for a position you thought you were perfect for. It’s not easy. Make sure to do things that help you stand out: have a part time job, be involved in the community, and participate in college clubs and activities. There is a lot of competition out there, but you will succeed.”