Earlier last month, Stevenson University’s 47 House club hosted its first Coffee Chat with alum Claudia Tonti (’18), a marketing and public relations coordinator at the Modell Lyric Performing Arts Center in Baltimore.
47 House, the communication club on campus, provides an opportunity for students wishing to develop and apply skills in fields like marketing, advertising, public relations (PR), and event planning. In an attempt to connect communication majors with careers, the club launched the Coffee Chat series to build interest in the annual business mixer (BizMix) that will take place in March. This year’s projected BizMix theme will showcase entrepreneurs and their experiences.
As the inaugural professional in the Coffee Chat series, Tonti offered helpful advice to students interested in the field of communication. She shared the insights on what she believes to be the most essential skills to be successful in the field, including polished writing skills, the ability to create quality content on the behalf of your company, understanding journalistic style, having the confidence to talk on the phone, demonstrating a positive attitude, the willingness to say yes and the drive to always network, just to name a few.
Tonti emphasized the importance of always selling yourself and having your 30-second pitch ready to go. Being prepared to network is important, and she underscored the importance of making connections in the field.
During her time at Stevenson, she had the opportunity to take a number of courses that shaped her into the professional she is today. The three courses that best prepared her for her role at the Modell Lyric Performing Arts Center include The Mill, public relations writing, and journalism. “I still grab old examples and copy and paste the formatting,” Tonti said.
The Mill, a course that operates as a communication agency and which she praised the most, was a hands-on class where she worked with an external client alongside students in other majors from the School of Design. In this class, she learned how to work creatively with students with various skills and personalities, and she also admitted to also learning a lot about herself in the process. The fast-paced demands of the class mirrored an internship with an organization. Tonti urged students to consider taking a practical course like The Mill, especially if they may only do one internship.
Tonti also shared what a typical day in public relations is like for her. She wakes up, dresses, and gets to work. She checks the company’s website and social media, assessing what has changed since the day before and responding to patrons. From there she is off and running, working on a variety of projects in one day and “wearing multiple hats.” She may create an ad for an upcoming show one minute, manage the company’s social media account the next, and spend time on the phone with a promoter after that. It is a never-ending job, but Tonti made it clear that she loves what she does.