Event Review: ProCom Alumni Association’s Annual Fireside Chat

By: Jelena Djurkic, MPC 2013


Industry professionals from two distinct lines of work joined the School of Professional Communication Alumni Association for our annual Fireside Chat to share tips from the road less travelled on how you can discover the job of your dreams.

How do you land your dream job? Always be on the lookout.

This was one of the themes that emerged at the ProCom Alumni ’s Fireside Chat in April. is annually held event provides current ProCom students and alumni with the opportunity to make acquaintance with the communicators behind some of the world’s biggest brands.

Alison Lawler-Dean, Director of Marketing and Communications at Rethink Breast Cancer, and Dorien Bouma, Director of Human Resources (HR) and Operations at Sid Lee, took the stage to discuss their unconventional journeys and shared advice on what it takes to land that dream position.

For Alison, finding a job wasn’t easy. After unsuccessfully attempting to find a position upon finishing her degree, she decided to pass the time with blogging and managed communications for her friend’s jewelry line. Her advice to budding communicators? If you can’t land a job, focus on your personal brand: whether that be taking photographs for your Instagram account or blogging like Alison did, personal branding activities could be used to fill gaps in your resume.

After a stint at Joe Fresh, Alison is now at Rethink Breast Cancer. She told the audience that while nonprofit organizations can be slower than agency life, they require communicators to create high-quality content with fewer resources: “Leveraging the relationships you’ve built over your professional career are key to delivering great content”.

Dorien had an even more unconventional career path. From her role as a television producer in The Netherlands to her position as a district manager at DAVIDsTEA, Dorien has worked at many organizations before assuming her current position in HR at Sid Lee.  

She claims that you don’t necessarily need to have studied communication to work in the field. With an undergraduate degree in social work, Dorien is now responsible for hiring for a global agency. She uses skills from previous positions to manage people in her current role and advises the audience to leverage the skills you do have. Dorien claims that “as long as you can explain how different positions make you a qualified candidate, hiring managers may take a leap of faith hiring you”.

Five tips for discovering the position you want

  • Have an answer prepared for any gap in your resume. “Companies that are hiring will always ask about gaps between jobs,” says Dorien. “As long as you are ready to explain them appropriately, it will not hurt your chances. If you have no answer, that will raise red flags about your ability to be a team player and manage responsibility.”
  • Maintain your social media platforms. Several companies will look to your Twitter and Instagram during the hiring process to get a sense of your personality, particularly for roles that involve social media. Alison maintains that, “Even if your photos are not related to the sector you are applying to, they show off your skills”.
  • Ensure that your resume is a true representation of your experiences. “Having experiential-type learning such as travel makes you more diverse and marketable than the hundreds of others that apply for the same position,” says Dorien. Including information beyond your skills and work experience provides hiring managers with the opportunity to get to know you better.
  • Fit is important. Hiring managers are looking for people who embody the culture of the agency or nonprofit. Familiarize yourself with organization you’re applying to and ensure that it coincides with your values and lifestyle.
  • You never know who you’ll work with one day. The contacts you make along your journey are invaluable. While you may not require a particular co-worker’s skills today, you may need them in the future. For example, building a strong relationship with art directors at an agency could help if you find yourself working for a nonprofit organization in need of pro bono campaigns. Always be professional in maintaining your network.

[For Fireside Chat] Joanna Liu MPC2016, Dr. Wendy Freeman, Nicola Aarssen MPC2016, Matt Mendoza MPC2015. Credit- Tacicia Bryan and Warsin Amin

[For Fireside Chat] MPC grads catch up. Credit- Tacicia Bryan and Warsin Amin