PDT Takeaways: The Value of Getting your Foot in the door


By Konnor McIntosh

Professional Development Tours (PDTs) happen every term and give students first-hand experience visiting different communications workplaces, both agencies and in-house companies, in large cities. PDTs are great opportunities to network with professionals and learn about different postgrad opportunities. Communications Committee Blogger Konnor McIntosh recaps his key takeaways from the Portland PDT last November. To learn more about PDTs or to apply for our Seattle PDT, Feb. 20-22, click here.


While opportunities to expand your network exist by participating in student organizations such as PRSSA, PDTs give you the specific advantage to connect with people already in the public relations (PR) agency, many of whom are Oregon alumni and have followed the same path we are on currently. Hearing their stories of how they got where they are is vital because there isn’t one secret or way of doing it, as has been stated several times. Connecting with ducks already working at these companies and developing that business relationship while you are still in school is something that the PDTs can provide. Events on the PDTs such as alumni dinners and gatherings are a great way to put your name out there.

Getting exposure to various workplace environments

In addition to networking with professionals, an incredible benefit of PDTs is the opportunity to experience different work environments and general company atmospheres. How do employees dress? What are their general moods? Is the office building a place where I could see myself working? Going to a place before you ever land an interview is an opportunity that could prevent wasted time at a place you don’t like. Close observation of employees at their desks or walking by can tell a lot about the overall environment of the company. On our visit to Wieden+Kennedy, everyone I talked to that went said the building’s interior design left a positive impact.

Agency or in-house?

This is a dilemma every PR major has post-graduation. The benefit of the PDTs is that you visit both and can differentiate and asks questions about the benefits of each. While at Edelman, there was a universal agreement about the benefit of agencies because it allows you to dip your toes into several different industries to find out which one you like. While its true many in-house branches require some agency experience, that is not always the case. For someone like me who thinks he knows what industry he wants to go into, visiting the Portland Timbers made me feel more at home than any other office building, even one as cool as Wieden+Kennedy.

Asking questions can lead to exclusive information

On a similar networking trip to Portland, I had the opportunity to visit the Trail Blazers communications department at the Moda Center. Unknowingly, until our GE pointed it out the next week in class, one of my classmates’ questions about sponsor relations was answered with brutally honest information that the Blazers staff would never share to even the biggest media outlets. Getting into the minds of industry veterans is something that students can learn from, as many of these places will share more with students to help them be successful in the future.

strategies to communicate for different audiences

As PR practitioners, we understand the importance of being able to identify and speak to target audiences, but being able to communicate that same information with the company CEO, an individual presumably much older and more experienced than you, is just as important. The ability to tell a story that has the same message in different ways is the sign of a great communicator. Whether you’re an ad, PR, or journalism major, companies are looking for creative minds who are versatile and worldly enough to bring creative ideas to the table and express them properly.

Interested in attending a PDT? Applications are open for the Seattle PDT until Feb. 8, 2019. Learn more here.