BOONE, N.C. — On a typical day on the job, Patrick Sullivan ’16 might be found balancing on a cable strung between two poles, swinging on a rope or seeing how many people he can pack on a small wooden platform.
Sullivan serves as the assistant program coordinator (APC) for the SUMMIT Outdoor Challenge Course at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. The challenge course focuses on engaging groups of students or professionals in team-building activities to teach problem-solving, goal-setting, communication and trust in an outdoor setting.
In this role, Sullivan coordinates the logistics of the program, scheduling staff, maintaining the course, planning and executing marketing plans, and facilitating sessions.
Although “public relations” doesn’t appear in his title, Sullivan said, “Every interaction that I have with students, parents and campus partners relates back to the essential skills that I learned in the Department of Communication’s public relations program at Appalachian.”
“Dr. Janice Pope helped me gain a better understanding of relationship building in a professional setting,” he said. “She taught me not to be afraid of rejection. If someone doesn’t take interest, no harm done. But you will never know the outcome until you put yourself out there, and often times, it will work in your favor.”
Sullivan is currently pursuing his Master of Arts in education and human development at George Washington University, with plans for a career as a student affairs professional.
“Appalachian State University introduced me to this field as a possibility by offering exemplary extracurricular opportunities that showed me it was possible to make working at a university a reality,” Sullivan said.
He added, “My academic experience with Appalachian’s Department of Communication helped prepare me for the rigor of graduate-level work.”
Sullivan was inspired by his professors at Appalachian, many of whom were engaged in professional work in addition to teaching classes. This direct link to the outside world of PR made his classes more valuable, he said, as it gave him and his fellow students a first-person example of the work they hoped to be doing post-graduation.
While a student at Appalachian and immediately after graduating, Sullivan was able to gain real-world experience through four internships:
- He was a communications intern for orientation at Appalachian, creating multimedia presentations and webinars for new students.
- Sullivan served as a marketing and public relations intern for Appalachian’s University Communications, contributing to Appalachian websites and social media.
- He was program coordinator for the former AppState in D.C. program, which offered cocurricular experiences in Washington, D.C.
- He served as a public relations and communications intern at Stratacomm, a full-service communications consultancy in Washington, D.C.
Sullivan said all of his internships helped shape his current career goals. “Every single experience you have as an intern will help formulate what you want out of a full-time position,” he said.
About the Department of Communication
One of seven departments housed in the College of Fine and Applied Arts, the Department of Communication at Appalachian State University focuses on preparing students to succeed in the varied fields within the communication industry. The department offers five majors – advertising, communication studies, electronic media/broadcasting, journalism and public relations – and a minor in communication studies. Graduates work in a wide range of positions in media, corporate, agency, government and nonprofit organizations. Learn more at https://communication.appstate.edu.
About the College of Fine and Applied Arts
Appalachian State University’s College of Fine and Applied Arts is a dynamic and innovative group of seven academic departments, bringing together a variety of perspectives, experiences and real-world education to provide unique opportunities for student success. The college has more than 3,000 undergraduate and graduate majors. Its departments are Applied Design, Art, Communication, Military Science and Leadership, Sustainable Development, Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment, and Theatre and Dance. Learn more at https://faa.appstate.edu.
About Appalachian State University
As the premier, public undergraduate institution in the state of North Carolina, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls more than 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.
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