The Path from Intern to Industry – An interview with PR Executive Sia

Written by Ruben Tefera

As we found a cosy spot in the elegant offices of The Red Republic agency she calls home, I sat down with PR executive Sia to tap into her growing wealth of industry knowledge. Having graduated university and taken a number of diverse roles, Sia has established herself firmly within the distinguished PR agency, acquiring a Senior PR Executive role. Through our discussion of her career, industry and tips for others, Sia walked me through her path from intern to industry professional in our short chat.

How long have you been working in PR?

Just over two years. Before that I worked in digital marketing, I was digital marketing assistant at a Hospitality Group. Then I was a social media assistant at another Hospitality Group before that. I was social media assistant at Donut Time for just over a year and a half and then at worldwide hospitality group for about six months.

What does your average day look like?

Very busy, very fast paced working on a range of different clients. At any given time, you can probably have between eight and ten clients that you’re working on, so it’s a lot of desk work, but there are days when you’re out and about of the office.

Why did you want to get into PR?

I really liked digital marketing. But I also really liked the idea of having a really fabulous job. People either do a job for love or a job for money, and I want to do a job because I love it. I don’t think I could just do social media all day, every day. So I like the fact that Red Republic is very digital and PR focused. PR is really interesting. I studied marketing at uni, but I just thought the concept of being creative and trying to get your clients coverage, through your creativity. I think PR is free marketing and It’s interesting to look at it that way and say I can get my clients a double page spread in a magazine for free whereas people who work in marketing would pay 10k for that.

Do you see any emerging trends in the industry kind of moving forward? into the future?

My boss actually mentioned this a couple months ago, when one day she asked us, why aren’t you on the phones, why aren’t you pitching on the phones? We said to her journalists don’t like to be contacted via phones it’s all via email. I think that everything moving forward is just very via email very online. You sit at your desk you got emails open that’s how business is done. The more traditional way would be picking up the phone and actually chatting to someone. But you know, things are now very digital.

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Having graduated from QUT a number of years ago, how did you find your transition from university to industry?

I think it’s definitely not what you expect. Obviously, uni has flexible hours, but mine is very much an office job, very nine-to-five at the desk all day on a laptop and your brain is constantly on. So it is different, it’s a massive shift but you learn to get used to it, you just get into a routine. Once you’re in your routine, you’re fine.  But I’m not gonna sit here and lie and say it was so easy. It was hard.

What was it like getting your foot in the door of the PR Industry?

I’m gonna be really honest and tell you that it was easy because I interned here. [Our managing director] Mia actually got me my first job. She really liked me, and her partner was looking for someone to fill the role at Donut Time. So she recommended me and then I got that job. Then my next job I got through an ex colleague of mine, and now I’m back here. So it’s really about kind of who you know. I think I got it easy look and others find it difficult. You make connections and you stay in contact with people you intern with and the people you work with.

What other advice would you give a student graduate trying to enter the industry?

Do as many internships as possible, and don’t be shy about things that you want to learn more about. Speak up to your intern supervisors or any people you work with and say, I want to learn more about this, I want to do more of this, I’m good at this. Maybe you want to explore a different avenue that you’re not so good at. But always put your needs forward, rather than just doing what you’re told. Internships are the biggest one for sure.

With our conversation gradually drawing to a close, the question of Sia’s career future arose. Citing her enjoyment of agency life, Sia hopes to move up in the world, aiming for manager and director positions further into her career. When asked what she would say to her younger self or others starting off trying to make their mark, Sia left me with frank yet invaluable advice to live by.

Have more confidence in your work and have more confidence in yourself. You’ve just finished a four-year degree and you’ve got four years of knowledge in your brain. Use it, and be confident about it. Just own it, definitely just own it.

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