• Kira Kliczinski

SDC – What You Missed

Every year PRSSA hosts the Student Development Conference during the end of the fall semester - frankly, this year was quite a bit different. Embracing life with COVID-19 and thinking outside the box was necessary when it came to getting things inline with the event. SDC was sponsored by Ann Arbor Spark, which is a non-profit development organization helping different businesses in southeast Michigan throughout all different stages of growth.


The variety of panelists at SDC was vast; this made the event far more interesting, hearing from professionals all over the country. Whether it be an entrepreneur from Boston, graphic designers from Los Angeles or communications coordinators from New York, SDC had a variety of unique perspectives shared.

During panel 1, we introduced four amazing professionals working for large athletic teams. Ellen Trudell from the Lions, Kurt Svoboda from the University of Michigan, Dion Dargin from the New York Giants, and Seth Stillman from the Cleveland Cavaliers were each giving some canny advice about working in the sports industry as a communication specialist.


Ellen, Kurt, Dion and Seth each emphasized the struggle of getting into sports management and how competitive the sports industry is. Working hard and selling yourself is important when wanting to move higher and being a good salesperson is a key aspect to doing well. Dion emphasized the importance of staying current with the younger crowd and being aware of pop culture through social media, moving through the times. Ellen emphasized the value of being able to think on your feet and handle situations that are unideal, being flexible and maintaining relationships but still protecting yourself and your assets.


During panel 2, entrepreneurs from all different areas of expertise came together and collaborated about what it was like to work as an entrepreneur and how to navigate through the COVID-19 season. Our panelists were Brittni “Bee” Brown from the Bee Agency, Adam Ritchie from Brand Direction, Kristin Judge from Cybercrime Support Network and Laura Khalil from Brave By Design.


Khalil had an interesting perspective as being a woman entrepreneur, formerly being told she was too bossy or overstepping. She emphasized that this is a good thing when wanting to run your own business, you have to take charge and walk the talk. Brown mentioned how important it is to actually stay true to your word and do what you say you will. Following through is a key part of being credible and being recommended. All of the Panelists agreed that most of their clients came by reference - upholding a reputation sure is as important as they say!


For Panel 3, graphic designers from Los Angeles were Athena Aquino from Cravings by Chrissy Teigen, Jason Beale from Hulu and Audrey Beale from Instagram. During this panel, we talked about the importance of internships during your education and getting experience in your field before you move out into the professional world. Audrey spoke on being able to say no sometimes, and not taking on too much work that you aren’t able to handle - that leads to less quality or rushed work. Graphic design doesn’t just take a creative mind - Athena presented how significant the development and research process is when starting a design project.

Lastly, panel 4 was hosted on Friday, December 4 by the Digital Summer Clinic and consisted of four different panelists. Kylie Gilligan from the Center of Digital Engagement, Eric Wortman from Google, Jorel Mccree from Pinterest and Kayla Henneman AdAdapted. Throughout this panel we learned about what the Digital Summer Clinic is and each panelist’s experience as a mentor or intern.


The Digital Summer Clinic is an opportunity for 48 students or recent grads to be paired with a small business sponsored by Ann Arbor Spark and to work as a digital intern for the summer. This could be a digital marketing position, computer programming, journalism, and more. The clinic brings great opportunity for scholars of all different expertise and is a great chance to kick-start your career!


If you would like to see these panels in action, you can check out our Youtube channel and watch each one!


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Eastern Michigan University is a comprehensive, co-educational public university in Ypsilanti, Michigan. The university was founded in 1849 as Michigan State Normal School.