The Summer Fellow Experience

One of the most rewarding parts of my job as the Partner/SVP, Global Talent Acquisition is participating in our Summer Fellows program. I’m always inspired by the bright, talented and creative candidates coming into the communications field. Seeing the Fellows grow over the course of the program is so gratifying. Our 10 weeks together always fly by.

Before it ends each year, I meet with the Fellows to hear about their experiences. This year, I wanted to share the experiences of two our Summer Fellows with you.


Diversity and Inclusion at Ketchum: One Summer Fellow’s Experience

By: Raneisha Stassin

When contemplating my future career in communications, finding a workplace where I would truly feel comfortable seemed like a luxury I was never going to find. Coming from a low-income African-American home in the rural South, opportunities like the one offered by Ketchum LaunchPad are a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I never expected to have the chance to work in a place like Ketchum, nor did I expect to feel immediately at home.

Speaking of home, back in Arkansas I am usually one of the only African-American students in my classroom. Not only am I typically the only woman of color in most places I end up studying or working, but I am usually the only one from a low-income background. Feeling like I belonged was a privilege I felt I was never going to have, and something I was just going to have to accept, until I came to Ketchum.

As soon as I began working with my new colleagues I felt like my voice was being heard. I was proud to bring a new perspective into Ketchum’s San Francisco office, but I was thrilled to discover that people wanted to hear my thoughts and ideas; that they were valuable. Not everyone in the office looked like me, but what was apparent was that every person had unique experiences and perspectives that set them apart. I didn’t feel like I was in a room full of people who were all the same. I didn’t feel like the odd one out. I felt surrounded by people with varying experiences, beliefs and perspectives. Still, everyone was able to work together to get the job done, because working together is what it takes to move any initiative forward.

Diversity and inclusion is not simply having people of different backgrounds and ethnicities in an office, it’s about integrating everyone to create a culture that ensures every voice is heard. This world is full of people of different races, experiences and backgrounds, and in order for communicators to connect with our audiences we need to remember that we are these people. It takes all of us, working together, to move the needle. I alone am not diversity; all of us together is what make us diverse. I’m so glad that I had the opportunity to be a part of a company that understands this, and makes a conscious effort to include more people of varying backgrounds in the workplace.


Testing the Tech Waters: Life as a post-grad Summer Fellow

By Paxton Mittleman

“Have you thought about pursuing an internship after graduation?” I was asked this question multiple times at the 2016 PRSSA National Conference in Indianapolis, when I met with multiple top-tier agencies that expressed the only way to get a foot in the door at their companies was to complete a post-graduate intern program. As a college senior, the idea of pursuing an internship terrified me. An internship meant little stability and a lack of direction as I began my first forays into adulthood. Months later, as I now reflect on my time as a Summer Fellow at Ketchum, I knew this program was the perfect start to my post-graduate public relations career.

As a Tech fellow in Ketchum’s San Francisco office, I worked on teams with clients disrupting the technology industry every day. I learned what goes into managing these fast-paced accounts as I updated trackers, monitored media coverage and drafted narrative recommendations shaping the story we tell target audiences. I collaborated with teams across Ketchum’s global network, through internal downloads, client calls and nationwide brainstorm sessions. When I was not working on client projects, I met people working within San Francisco’s different practice areas, heard about client work happening on diverse accounts, and learned why coworkers feel Ketchum West is a great place to work – unanimously, the answer is the people.

A Summer Fellow is in a unique position to test the waters and learn what it’s like to work at Ketchum. It’s a trial-and-error period where you can truly explore all facets of agency life – and determine if it’s the life you want. Personally, I had never worked for a global public relations agency and certainly never worked on any Technology accounts. It was reassuring to know I had the option to experience Ketchum and public relations practices without locking myself into a job I did not want, just in case I wasn’t satisfied. Ten weeks in, I am more than satisfied knowing that Ketchum is everything I hoped it would be – an agency that invests not only in its clients, but its employees as well. I leave this program knowing that being a post-graduate Summer Fellow was the perfect beginning to my post-graduate career at an agency where I can learn, grow and create break through work each day.

Our New York Summer Fellows and Ketchum Launchpad, our gamified recruitment platform, was recently featured on CBS News. Watch the clip here!

About Michele Lanza

In her current role as Partner/SVP, Global Talent Acquisition at Ketchum, Michele manages the recruiting function for the agency, helping to bring top talent into the organization. She worked at Ketchum from 1996-2003, working her way up to become the VP/HR Manager for Ketchum West. Michele then boomeranged back to Ketchum in 2008, after spending four years working as an executive recruiter at one of the top search firms in the Bay Area, specializing in public relations and marketing. Michele has over 15 years of human resources experience, with an emphasis in staffing. Prior to her tenure at Ketchum, Michele worked for Film Realite, a commercial production company and for the YMCA. Follow her on Twitter here: @MicheleL