Brianne Farrell (‘16) has a motto: “Better Comes Before Best.” That motivates her to see every day as an opportunity to grow, to learn, and to make progress in her Public Relations career. She developed that value at PBA, where she was surrounded by encouragement and support to become her best self. Graduating with a sense of God’s call and a tried-and-true skill set for success, Brianne is confidently offering her unique voice to the world. Check out her Sailfish story.
Describe your current job role:
I am the communication coordinator at the law firm of Gunster in West Palm Beach, Florida. Gunster specializes in business law, started almost 90 years ago and has 13 offices around the state. My office is right across the street from PBA! I get to do a little bit of everything in the marketing department. Mostly I’m responsible for the daily communication initiatives to advance the firm’s business development strategies for its 200 attorneys. These promotions range from media announcements and email campaigns to website content and social media. I’ve also expanded into being an event planner, organizing meetings that encompass receptions with Florida legislators to large industry conferences with Florida business leaders.
I am also pursuing a Master’s Degree in Digital Political Communication from the University of Florida. Although I doubted whether I’d be able to handle a full-time job in addition to graduate school, the education and skills I’ve been able to apply to my current role has proven invaluable. I would encourage anyone who’s considering furthering their education to do it as soon as possible!
Majoring in Public Relations at PBA
PBA offers engaged professors and valuable hands-on opportunities to learn. For Brianne, that meant high-stakes internships and local professional connections. Majoring in Public Relations at PBA meant that Brianne wasn’t just ready to launch a career; she was surrounded by a circle of support, and her success was everyone’s goal.
What professional experience(s) did you have prior to your current role?
At PBA I realized early on how valuable internships and real-world experiences are prior to graduation. At PBA, I was fortunate to intern with Shamin Abas Public Relations where I worked with high-net worth clientele to secure media coverage in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Vogue, Gotham, Haute Living, Trillionaire Magazine, etc. I also interned with the local chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) to assist with their digital media initiatives. Through that I started the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapter at PBA. My internships helped me make connections with successful business leaders who guided me in the pursuit of my calling.
What do you know now that you wish you had known about being a working professional?
I think it can be really easy to put your classes and college experience in a box and feel like it won’t necessarily apply to whatever you do outside of college. But if I’ve learned anything from being a working professional, it’s that every step is a part of the goal. Of course some classes won’t be your favorite and you may have to go through some challenging hurdles (looking at you, Accounting), but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had moments of gratitude for things I learned in class. It’s incredibly important to be present and absorb everything you’re learning now, because it will be a vital tool in your career. Being a working professional is one giant group project, so start preparing now.
“Being a working professional is one giant group project…”
How did PBA prepare you for the world of work?
One of the greatest distinctions of my education at PBA was that I was equipped with career-level training before I ever left the classroom. Through the senior capstone course in the PR program, I had the opportunity to develop and implement the BAEcon campaign for the Animal Agriculture Alliance – an industry-united, non-profit organization that helps bridge the communication gap between farm and fork. The goal of the campaign was to educate college students who had been targeted by animal activist groups to “know the facts” before making dietary choices that could affect the rest of their life. The campaign involved giving out free bacon to college students while simultaneously engaging them through positive messaging about the agriculture industry. The BAEcon campaign turned out to be an incredible success and I even got the opportunity to spend my senior finals week in Washington, D.C. presenting the campaign to high-level agriculture industry leaders.
The greatest accomplishment of my undergraduate career was serving as a student leader for 3 of those years. Through the Student Activities Board and Steering Committee, I learned how to be an effective and efficient leader as well as what it means to pursue excellence. What started as a creative outlet for me ended up molding me into the professional I am today and led to some of the greatest friendships and mentorships I’ve ever known.
What advice would you give to current PBA students and/or young alumni who are just about to start their first professional full-time job?
Just like it can be easy to put your classes in a box, it can be just as easy to put your jobs in a box. You may end up with your dream job right out of college, or you may not, but both of those jobs will equip you for what lies ahead. The university theme my senior year at PBA was “Press on to the Goal,” and that theme couldn’t have been more fitting for that time in my life. Whether it’s your college classes prepping you for the real world, or all the jobs that will prep you for your dream job, each step will mold you into something better. A quote I heard one time that has become a personal motto in my career is that “Better comes before best. Getting better happens over time and best only comes after a ton of betters.”
Career Preparation at PBA
What starts at PBA doesn’t end here. Openness to learning and asking for support is part of the recipe for success that you learn as a Sailfish. Both receiving help and giving it are always the building blocks of a community that works together to make a lasting impact.
Have you been mentored by anyone in your professional field since entering the workforce? If so, what impact has that had on you?
I was fortunate enough to have my professional mentor end up being someone who only sits a few feet away from me every day at work. My coworker Kim has challenged me and encouraged me, and made my transition from college to career nearly seamless. I encourage everyone to find a professional mentor for all stages of your career, because you need to be poured into before you can overflow into others.
Spotlight posted in June 2018. For current updates from Brianne, visit her LinkedIn page.