Taking initiative and making connections has landed University of Southern Mississippi graduate student D’Anthony Jackson a summer internship and experience of a lifetime with the world’s second largest public relations agency -- Weber Shandwick in New York City.
Jackson is a rising graduate student majoring in Public Relations at Southern Miss in the School of Mass Communications and Journalism. Achieving goals and accomplishments is second nature to this Linden, Ala., native. Jackson attended Linden High School where he received an Advanced Honors Diploma, served as Student Body President and participated in the Beta Club. He gained his undergraduate degree from the University of West Alabama.
Jackson will embark on his journey to New York this summer working with Weber Shandwick’s corporate team. When asked what advice he would give to other students on pursuing their dreams and seeking internships he said, “Stay focused and be present. Don’t take anyone you meet for granted and cherish all your relationships. Be the first one there and be the last to leave. Until you build your network, you have to have that mindset.”
Jackson’s journey to New York began with a presentation on the Hattiesburg campus. He was invited to hear Bill Imada, CEO of the IW Group, speak at an event at Southern Miss and became inspired by what he heard. Following Imada’s speech, the students were invited to join him and faculty members for a meal. Jackson, along with two classmates, decided to linger for a chance to meet Imada.
After talking for a while, Imada gave the students a job to do with The Agency, a PR group on campus. Jackson stayed in touch with Imada and was invited to become a founding member of The National Millennial Community. The community is a group of millennial thinkers who strive to change the conversation about the millennial generation. As part of his community connection, Jackson interviewed Andy Polansky, the CEO of Weber Shandwick.
During his conversation with Polansky, Jackson received this advice: “Be wise and recruit the firm, rather than wait for the firm to recruit you. Perhaps you did that when you were looking for the right college or university to attend. The same thought process applies. If you do your homework and you get to know what a company is all about, you get an appreciation for the leadership and the kind of people and talent that it has.”
Jackson said he took the advice to heart and decided to do more research on the company -- and ultimately began “recruiting the firm.” He discovered that Weber Shandwick recently was recognized as the PR News Agency of the Year and also won an award for diversity.
Jackson was excited to see the firm’s efforts toward creating a more diverse and inclusive agency and decided to apply for an internship position. He sent his resume directly to Polansky and expressed his great interest in the firm. A week later he received a call from the Human Resources department and as the old adage goes: “the rest is history.”
When asked what inspired Jackson to choose Public Relations as a career path, he said, “In addition to being a student assistant in the Public Relations office in my undergraduate university and being inspired by the professionals, to keep it simple, I love the idea of being able to impact how individuals perceive an issue, a company or even another individual. That could be on a small scale like a local incident or a larger scale like some sort of social cause. Even down to personal branding, which is one of my favorite things to do and talk about.”