New Professional Spotlight: Shannon Nicholson



Name: Shannon Nicholson
Job Role: Program Director, West Virginia University Office of Graduate Admissions
Education: B.S. Journalism, ’14, M.S. Data Marketing Communications, ’17 – WVU Reed College of Media
Social Media: @shannonicholson (Twitter) and @shannonpauline (Instagram)

How and when did you first become interested in PR and communications?

My first job in the industry was at a small, B2B advertising agency in Morgantown, WV. I was exposed to all facets of marketing: content development, direct email, digital advertising, media relations, social media, traditional media, and website design (to name a few). What I did not know before I started my Junior Account Manager position was the importance of tying campaigns to business goals, breaking down department silos, and utilizing collected data to be relevant and timely. Enter the Data Marketing Communications, fully-online, graduate program. This program allowed me to bridge my interest in the business-side of marketing and my growing expertise in the field.

How did you find internships/jobs?

As a WVU student and alumni, I have an amazing resource at my disposal- MountaineerTrak powered by the Career Services Center. MountaineerTrak was my first line of defense. During my years as an undergrad, the Reed College of Media hired a Director of Student Careers and Opportunities, Eric Minor. Eric’s weekly “opportunity” email quickly became my go-to resource. Eric is the perfect liaison between current students looking for experience and alumni looking to provide that experience as a way to give back to their alma mater.

What was the biggest challenge you’ve ever faced in your career? How did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge I have faced in my young career has been introducing new procedures, and strategies from the ground up. In my current role, I assumed that after six months and I’ll be like a well-oiled machine and have already implemented new strategies. I soon realized that implementation would take closer to one year. The next year will be spent analyzing, and the following year will be about growth and optimization. It is hard not to get ahead of myself and want to be at year three, today! Really, the biggest challenge is not trying something new, it is pacing myself to check one step off the list at a time. Devoting 110% to each step without getting ahead of myself and potentially losing sight of details that could later derail all that the team has worked towards. Slow and steady wins the race.

What has been the most valuable thing you have learned through classes or experience?

Differing experiences, bring perspective. In my Data Marketing Communications cohort, students had varying backgrounds in data, graphic design, marketing, sales, etc. Listening to each other’s viewpoints helped the entire cohort approach problems with an open mind.

What has been the best piece of advice you have received?

You won’t know unless you try.

Do you have any advice for future PR pros?

There are a lot of different ways to apply your marketing/PR knowledge. Don’t limit yourself to certain industries or titles. Today, there are more opportunities than ever to be creative with your knowledge.

What do you think is the best benefit of PRSA and the New Pros section?

I think the biggest benefit of the New Pros section is the opportunity for engagement and networking. PRSA boasts amazing partners, and communities for growth and learning. I was particularly drawn to the #NPPRSA Twitter chats. Twitter chats have been a great outlet to informally discuss specific topics with others in the industry. I have found that those who participate want to engage and share. Even simply reading through threads has helped open my eyes to areas outside of my expertise.

Is there anything you wish you would have known before starting your career?

You will never stop learning. When you think you know enough, there is always more. It is important to be vigilant about the changes within your field.

Tell us a little-known fact about yourself.

I have a Bengal Cat that is about 20 lbs, who acts more like a small dog than a cat.

This New Professionals spotlight is sponsored by West Virginia University. If you are a member of PRSA New Pros and interested in being featured, or interested in nominating someone to be featured as a part of our #MemberSpotlight, please complete the following form.


#AskNewPros: How many New Pros are in my regional area?

This is part of our recurring #AskNewPros series. Do you have a burning question for PRSA New Pros? Ask us! Want to promote mentorship by answering questions asked by PRSSA members? Email Alyssa Stafford to contribute.  

The New Pros section has 1149 members all over the U.S. and we even have a member in Canada! Roll over your state in the map below to see how many New Pros are in your area. Want to reach out to someone directly? Check out the member directory on and choose New Professionals under the “Section” field.

#AskNewPros: Social Media Certifications


This is part of our recurring #AskNewPros series. Do you have a burning question for PRSA New Pros? Ask us!


Are there any certifications you wish you had or programs you wish you were familiar with walking into the job market?

These days, it’s incredibly common for young professionals to include “social media” in the Skills section of their resume. But isn’t there a difference between knowing how to share a photo on Instagram and being a true social media practitioner? Absolutely!

To stand out from the crowd, and help hiring managers understand that you really do have the ability to strategically use social media to reach audiences and convey key messages, consider receiving a certification – perhaps from the Hootsuite Academy or National Institute of Social Media.

tnqz_lgmJim Mignano is a Senior Account Executive at Text100 Global Communications specializing in technology and healthcare. He currently serves as the President of PRSA Rochester, and you can always find him on Twitter at @J_Mignano.

#AskNewPros: Tips on Finding Your Niche


This is part of our recurring #AskNewPros series. Do you have a burning question for PRSA New Pros? Ask us!


What tips do you have to help PR students find the right fit/sector for them in the industry?

The best way to figure this out is to first think about what motivates you. What’s going to make “work” exciting for you? It could be anything! Is it the brand, the organization, working with social media, or working with traditional media? All of these things play a factor in figuring out the right fit for you.

Honestly, it’s hard to figure out until you’re in it. That’s where the value of interning comes in. I know PRSSA drills this into your head, but it’s true! Interning allows you to try out different roles and sectors so you can figure out your likes and dislikes. Beyond just what sector and roles are good for you, you can also learn what kind of workplace environment you want to work in. Maybe you thrive off the intensity of a start up or benefit from larger teams? You’ll never know unless you try! Plus, you may find out that work climate and team dynamics contribute more to your overall happiness and fit even more than what industry you’re working in.

Your time in college is a great time to explore all of this! Take on as many roles and various sectors as you can while you have the time to explore. It’ll help make your eventual job feel a lot less like a “job” after all.


Jenna Mosley is a PRSSA liaison on the PR New Pros executive committee. She works for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids as the International Communications Associate in Washington, D.C.

Ask New Pros: Your questions answered


As we’ve written in the past, mentorship comes in all shapes and sizes. The beauty of it all is that everyone has something to offer–even the new pros! We’re taking questions from PRSSA members who are looking ahead to the great transition from being a student to entering the working world. Each month, look for our answers to students’ pressing questions. If you want to contribute as a virtual mentor to PRSSA by answering some questions in the #AskNewPros series, send Alyssa an email.

Do you have a burning question for PRSA New Pros? Ask us!

Copy of August


“Setting up benefits, insurance, etc.”
— Ruthann Campbell, Programming co-chair

Realizing that work/life balance really is an art.

“In comparison to an internship or a semester at school being full-time has no specific end date, so you have to make a conscious effort to find your own work/life balance while giving your career all you can.”
— Jess Noonan, New Pros chair

“I thought I was prepared for everything – a new environment, new city, real job, you name it. Turns out the one thing I wasn’t prepared for was how to handle time management for a good work-life balance. I know it seems like this is such an easy thing to manage, but any YoPro will tell you that this is one thing you need to prepare for in the real-world. Time management and over-communication are extremely important traits to learn quickly. it’ll get you ahead of the rest of the interns/entry level folks if you’re an over-communicator and have a handle on your time!”
— Andrea Easley, Membership co-chair

“Making time for things I’m interested in outside of work. Everyone always talks about how important work-life balance is, but no one really explains that it’s more about making time for the things you care about. In college, it’s easy to make time for going to the gym, hanging out with friends, reading that book you’ve been wanting to finish, getting involved with an activity or organization, whatever because there are clear blocks for everything. You go to class from this time to that time, you go to your internship or to work, you study and everything fits. After college, it’s just as easy to plop on the couch after work because you’re mentally drained and fall down the Netflix rabbit hole instead of doing those things that you tell yourself you’ll get around to. It’s important to make time for things you like, even when you’re tired & busy. If you care enough about something, you’ll find the time to do it.”
— Robyn Rudish-Laning, Membership co-chair

How tired I’d feel! The adjustment to early mornings was hard. If you feel like you’re zapped every day after work, your body will adjust. Get on a good sleep schedule and stay hydrated!
— Heather Harder, Programming co-chair

The expectations of doing your job well all the time. When you’re a professional, even a new one, your supervisor and team look for you start helping them move toward their business objectives soon after you start. “Getting it right” 85 percent of the time as an intern might be great, but when you’re full-time the expectation of a good employee is more like 99 percent.
— Brian Price, Chair-Elect and Section Liaison