By: Murielle Pierre
Look up the definition of ‘powerhouse’ in the dictionary and you can bet that picture of Amanda Chouinard—recipient of this year’s CPRS Ottawa-Gatineau Student Leader Award—would be posted right next to it.
During her time as a Student Leader on the chapter’s 2016-2017 Student Volunteer Committee, Amanda exhibited a wide range of skills that contributed to a successful year full of CPRS events and promotional campaigns. Her attention to detail and professionalism are just some of the many reasons CPRS Ottawa-Gatineau found her to be deserving of this award.
As a recent graduate of the Carleton University communications undergraduate program, Amanda displays a passion for learning that she believes helps her to stand out. “I’ve learned that PR is an industry full of eager learners, so being able to expand your skill set is a huge asset I hope to have and build for many years to come,” she states.
CPRS has always been an icebreaker for her, ever since first learning about the organization from Kayla Isabelle, who, like Amanda, is a past president of Carleton’s Communications Undergraduate Student Society (CUSS), and who headed up the CPRS Ottawa-Gatineau student program in 2016-2017.
“If you want to meet someone new from a company or field of your interest, introduce yourself as a CPRS member and you will be met with warmth,” Amanda says. “CPRS has taught me how to network without being nervous.” Amanda adds that she had the opportunity to team up with students from different schools to host a busy season of networking nights, socials and field trips.
She mentions that having the chance to manage an event such as the Young PR Panel – a small event where recent graduates (three to five years into the industry) share their knowledge with about 15-20 students – in March 2017, was especially meaningful since the event resonated so much with the students who were able to learn from the experiences of speakers.
With her undergrad degree in hand and armed with experience from CPRS Ottawa-Gatineau, Amanda ventured to Toronto after graduation and landed an internship with Strategic Objectives, a Toronto-based communications firm known for being the most awarded agency in Canada for their innovative, passion-fueled, and media-worthy campaigns. Following her internship, Amanda was hired on as an Account Coordinator. She is currently applying her skills to support and execute campaigns for recognized national brands. Her advice to current and future students in the PR and communications sector is to look for opportunities to work with products, causes, platforms, and people that you’re excited about. She believes that enjoying your work while involving yourself in extracurricular activities and classes will lead you to a career you’ll love. When asked about balancing it all she says, “PR isn’t a typical 9 to 5 desk job, although it does call for the occasional late nights, many of them are exciting events and opportunities.”
And, she says, don’t forget to take advantage of volunteer, professional development, and networking opportunities with your local CPRS chapter. After four years with CPRS, Amanda believes the value of professional organizations extends far beyond your time as a student. “Being a member means you have access to an entire landscape of professionals and career-long learning,” she adds. “CPRS has brought me friendships, connections, and mentors that will continue to be invaluable throughout my career.”