By Megan O'Neal
This past week Audrey Ponzio, CEO, and founder of APC Collective joined Texas PRSSA to tell her story and give advice to young professionals. As a UT and Moody grad, she believes strongly in the value of an education at the University of Texas, specifically the value of the programs in the Moody College of Communication. While at UT, Ponzio switched majors three times but ended up graduating with a degree in Corporate Communications. She first went on to acknowledge that society expects college students to know what they want to do with their careers. Ponzio believes students should use their time on the Forty Acres to explore and not get too caught up in mapping out everything about their future. Her advice and main takeaways are stated below.
Reach out to any professional organizations you are interested in since that is the most common way she finds new hires.
Have a strong resume. It doesn't necessarily have to include many professional experiences. The Texas Career Engagement Center is a great place to start.
Be proud of yourself; it is a skill to put on a brave face, especially with all the “Karens” of the world.
Be flexible and surround yourself with good people who are committed to doing the work.
There is no shame in anyone’s identity; you don't have to overcompensate if you are a minority, and you don’t have to overcompensate if you aren’t a minority.
“Be excellent” is a better motto instead of saying “be professional.”
Ask for grace if you miss a deadline because life happens.
Work ethic is the most professional thing you can do.
Make sure to do your own thing, and do not follow someone else’s train.
In the professional realm, Ponzio discussed some key morals she implements while being a CEO. Her philosophy to understand her clients’ needs is being “in the know.” She does this by proactively scheduling meetings in which she can make the majority to fully engage with and understand her clients. Ponzio has mastered balancing being a good boss while also being an independent worker. As a Mexican-American woman, she was put in leadership roles for managing diversity and inclusion when she worked with different companies (before founding APC Collective). During these positions, she quickly realized that she was underrepresented within these companies and in the public relations field in general. Therefore, she took it upon herself to be an advocate for others like her. Initially, she was hesitant to use words such as “discrimination” or “racism,” but with time, she realized the value in educating people on experiences of which they would not know. She notes the gaps in our industry and is proud to be a bridge for minorities in the communications world.