A Foot in the Door

by Andrew Hart and Macy West, Photo by Jessica Travis

Allison Ralston is not only dedicated to her schoolwork, but is adept at managing her time between school and her job as a web content developer and writer for the Office of Communications and Marketing at Texas Tech University.

Ralston started her college experience at the University of Houston as a meteorology major. Ralston said she realized calculating the size of a raindrop was something she did not want to do. She decided to transfer to Texas Tech and thought public relations sounded like an interesting major.

Ralston said through her internship for the Office of Communications and Marketing, which she started in June 2009, she has been able to develop skills that will help her with her career in the public relations world.  She said her classes and professors have prepared her for her job. She said her Public Relations Writing class has helped her the most in her internship and current job.

“Without any of the basic classes I wouldn’t have known how to go in and write a press release,” Ralston said. “They harp on you so much, and you’re like, ‘nobody uses AP style; this is not going to be important,’ and then you get out there and you actually use it on a daily basis.”

Ralston said she learned a lot in her Principles of Advertising class, where Curtis Matthews helped mentor her for the past couple of years. Matthews, a visiting assistant professor, said Ralston asked more questions than the other 60 students in his class.

“She’s just a student who’s been more involved than other people, so she’s in the building more often than other people are and dropping by to chat with faculty,” Matthews said.

Ralston said Matthews pushed her to get the internship that would lead to her full-time position, and even wrote her a letter of recommendation. She said he was also the first person she told about her job.

Matthews said a lot of people look at an internship as something they have to do, but Ralston looked at her internship as a way to define what public relations meant to her.

While Ralston interned in the Office of Communications and Marketing, she was given the responsibility of writing anything from press releases for the university, to feature stories and advisories.

In addition to her writing tasks, she was selected to do “PR in new media”, where she got to work for a new service called PitchEngine. She said since she has a passion for social media, she was able to combine her hobby with her job.

PitchEngine allows you to create social media releases and then share them through a search engine format, according to PitchEngine.com.

Outside of her internship, Ralston said she was in charge of the social media for On the Border’s Fiesta for the Cure for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation last October.

“One of my biggest interests is social media,” Ralston said, “Twitter is my favorite -- I like the interaction you can have with it.”

“She is one of those students who is engaged in the classroom. She is very responsible and she can handle many situations.” — Ann Rodriguez

After having this internship, Matthews said Ralston has been able to be more productive.

“In some ways when I first met her,” Matthews said, “she was all over the place, but I knew she was bright, she was driven and that she would do well.”

Matthews said since he first taught her, she has changed because of having her internship.

“Now she can channel all her energy into one particular thing rather than that energy being scattered all over the place,” Matthews said, “That’s the biggest change I’ve seen in her.”

Kendall Rompf, a senior public relations major from Houston, is one of Ralston’s interns. She said she met Ralston through classes they had together.

Rompf said Ralston suggested her for the internship in Ralston’s office. She said she has learned some good skills from Ralston and is given a lot of tasks.

Rompf said it is great that Ralston gives her many tasks because during her past internship she just sat and answered phones. She said she is gaining experience from this internship, and Ralston is helping her achieve it.

“I have learned better time management from her,” Rompf said. “Like differentiating between what tasks I need to do right now and what can be put off until later. It is a really important skill when you go into the work force.”

Rompf said Ralston is a laid-back person who gives a lot of input in class lectures. She said she also is a hard worker and gets her work done on time. Rompf said she enjoys working with Ralston and learning from her experiences.

One of Ralston’s professors, Ann Rodriguez, a visiting assistant professor and interim chair of the Public Relations Department, said Ralston is always willing to ask questions about the lecture. Rodriguez said Ralston sits in the front row and is prepared for class each day.

“She is one of those students who is engaged in the classroom,” Rodriguez said. “She is very responsible and she can handle many situations.” mc

Macy West is a junior public relations major from Houston. Andrew Hart is a junior public relations major from Austin, Texas. Jessica Travis is a visual communications major from Bay City, Texas.