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California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

Cal Lutheran Alumnae Share Insight at PRSSA’s Careers in Communication Speaker Panel

Photo contributed by Hannah Anderson
California Lutheran University alumnae, Vanessa Wylie, Alexis Wallace, and Mara Powner shared their experiences working in communications during the Careers in Communication Speaker Panel on Feb. 8.

On Thursday, Feb. 8 California Lutheran University’s Career Services and Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) hosted the Careers in Communication Speaker Panel.

The panel took place at 4:00 p.m. at the Ullman Commons 100 and 101 and consisted of three speakers, all of whom are Cal Lutheran alumnae.

Each speaker talked about what their job entails and their journey of how they got to where they are now. They also shared what they considered to be the positives and negatives of their current positions.

Vanessa Wylie graduated from Cal Lutheran in 2010 and is the Strategic Planning and Operation Senior Marketing Manager at Amgen’s biopharmaceutical company.ย 

Wylie said that while she was at Cal Lutheran, she interned in the entertainment industry. She said she worked on the agency side of the industry, marketing theatrical releases for companies such as Disney, Paramount, and Sony. After working in the entertainment industry, Wylie said that it was not an industry that she wanted to stay in.

Wylie said she went on to join the McDonaldโ€™s marketing team for eight years. While she said she has โ€œrespect and love for the brand,โ€ after the birth of her first child, she realized that she didn’t believe in what she was marketing.

โ€œI joined Amgen from McDonald’s, so I joke around and say that, you know, I used to market chicken McNuggets and went to market you know cholesterol management drugs to mitigate the damage,โ€ Wylie said.

After joining Amgen, Wylie said that it gave the work she does and herself more purpose.ย 

โ€œMake sure that you always have that passion aligned to a purpose in your career. And let that be the north star thatโ€™s gonna help you, that’s gonna guide you as you navigate those adversities,โ€ Wylie said.

Wylie said that students should know the classes they are taking now are very important when it comes to getting jobs after graduation.

โ€œThose are skills that perhaps we don’t get to value while we’re in school but have so much value in retrospect,โ€ Wylie said.

Alexis Wallace graduated in 2017 and is the Marketing Strategy and Integrated Planning Manager for The Walt Disney Company.ย 

Wallace said she knew she wanted to work in the entertainment business one day.ย While at Cal Lutheran, she said she got an internship at the LA Film Festival doing social media, which led to another social media job at Disney.ย 

She said on her first day of the Disney internship, she was also given the task of doing paid media which she had no prior experience with, but learned a lot from it.

โ€œI think one thing, if you do internships or even in your first job, just be willing to learn,” Wallace said. “I obviously like had no idea what I was doing so I just kinda took every day as a learning opportunity and said โ€˜yesโ€™ to everything. That was a really big thing.”

Wallace said that she got hired full-time at Disney and would then be promoted to the strategy team. She said she has worked on titles like Disney Jr., Disney Channel, and Disney+.

Wallace also got her masterโ€™s degree in communication at the University of California, which she said helped her professionally.

โ€œWhen youโ€™re in college there’s only so much that you know that you learn in the classroom and I kinda realized very early on, not that I had a disadvantage, but I was so focused on film production and very, I would say closed minded as an undergrad,” Wallace said. “Once I got into the real world so to speak, I kinda wanted to expand my knowledge there more professionally.โ€

Wallace said that it is important to work on something that you love since you will be doing this for life, and to find something that excites, motivates, and challenges you.

Mara Powner graduated in May 2023 and is the Corporate Communications Seasonal Assistant for the Los Angeles Rams.

Powner said she was the PRSSA president in 2023. During that time, she was put on the Women in Sports Panel where she had the opportunity to meet her future boss. She said she did game days for the LA Rams in the communications department and thought it was a good opportunity to apply for the team.

Powner said that her job is to โ€œpromote all of the organizationโ€™s off-the-field effortsโ€ in the media. These efforts include community events, partnership sponsor programs and events, and social justice efforts, which is their primary focus.ย 

โ€œI am so passionate about what I do,โ€ Powner said โ€œFinding something where I have this intertwinement of community engagement and relations, and PR, and having these relationships with media, to me, itโ€™s like this little perfect intersection of things that I care a lot about.โ€

Powner recommends that if you are interested in a speaker at a panel/ lectureโ€™s job you should reach out to them and build that connection, because you never know where that connection may lead.

โ€œIf you can kind of fall back on that passion and see that greater purpose, it definitely makes those hard days better but makes the good days really, really good,โ€ Powner said.

At the end of the panel, attendees had the opportunity to ask the speakers questions and learn more about networking in the communication industry. The next event hosted by Career Services will be “The Do’s and Don’ts of Applying to Grad School” on Feb. 13 from 2-3 p.m. in the Kingsmen Room.

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