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Choose Your Own Adventure

November 06, 2014

By Ben Cowie, Public Relations student, Loyalist College

The post-graduate Public Relations program at Loyalist College is a one-year certificate for college and university graduates who are looking for a professional career path that will build on their education.

“In this program, all experiences are viewed as an asset,” says PR student Kevin Ashbridge. “I get to build on my degree from the University of Ottawa, beef up my résumé, develop new skills and shape them towards a profession that’s both challenging and exciting to me.”

Loyalist PR is all about hands-on, practical learning paired with students’ own individual interests — a bit of a “choose your own adventure.” As students, we’re given the autonomy to choose our own topics of research, areas in which to network and people to meet. We have no tests or exams. All of our learning is applied to the projects we create — projects that reflect our own style and flair.

Students learn to use multimedia software such as Adobe InDesign and Photoshop to create effective campaigns. We also learn the art of developing social media strategies, brand management programs, internal communications plans, event coordination, non-profit communication campaigns, traditional and online writing, and much more. At the end of the program, we apply our skills on the job during a month-long field placement — anywhere in the world.

“I approached the program determined to take every opportunity that came my way,” says recent Loyalist PR grad and University of Guelph alumna Katrina White, an Account Coordinator at Aerial Communications. “I found the professional association memberships included in our registration particularly useful. These organizations hold great events for students.”

“You’ll meet real professionals who are there to mentor you because they have been in your shoes,” adds PR student and Queen’s graduate Katie Stewart. “The College has connections in so many different industries. Our writing professor worked for the OHL and our program coordinator worked for the RCMP. We have health care connections, graduates who work at the Toronto International Film Festival, the Ottawa Senators and Ripley’s Aquarium … the list goes on and on.

These industry connections benefit students on a daily basis. Networking events such as professional panels, speed networking and micro-networking sessions are held throughout the year. “Our network of employers and industry partners is growing each year,” says Program Coordinator Kerry Ramsay, who was recently honoured with the Remarkable Woman of Quinte award. “It is especially rewarding to see so many of our alumni who are now working in the field become brand ambassadors for the program and mentors for our current students.”

Speaking personally, having graduated from the University of Western Ontario, I never realized just how vast the PR industry is. It’s encouraging to know that there are so many opportunities out there. I also enjoy learning in a close-knit College community — feeling like a person and not just a number. With 25 people in our class, we learn what it’s like to work as a team, to support and learn from one another. It’s a microcosm of the actual PR work environment.

Students in the program also appreciate the connection to the community. “It feels great going to a school that is so locally involved,” says student Julia Vriend. “Loyalist students are actively involved in partnering with local businesses and charities, such as the United Way of Quinte and the Belleville Firefighters’ Toy Drive. We get opportunities to work on real fundraisers for school credit and the community’s benefit. It’s a nice feeling, like you’re a part of something bigger than yourself.”

Have questions about the post-graduate Public Relations program at Loyalist College? Interested in becoming a student for a day? Please contact Kerry Ramsay at or visit