SDSU Grad Q&A: Sarah Katsiyiannis
School of Journalism and Media Studies
Emphasis: Public Relations
Hometown: Tipton, KS
1. Can you describe the position and company you will be working for post-graduation? What will your responsibilities be? Can you describe a little bit about yourself and what led you to pursue public relations as an area of study?
Open Influence is a global multi-award-winning influencer marketing company in West Hollywood that is focused on generating value for brands across all the major social media platforms. I will be the Content Marketing Coordinator. I am a passionate writer that enjoys creating strategies to inform, encourage and unify people. In the last few months, I have gained over 35,000 followers on TikTok and Instagram using my original spoken word poetry. I want to use my platform and skills in storytelling to one day become an author and motivational speaker. As a poet, naturally I wrote a poem about why I chose journalism:
What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?
I was the kid who had a list
of all the things I wanted to be
when I grew up:
An explorer, a fashion designer, an astronaut, and a superhero!
“You can’t be them all, you have to pick just one.” - they said.
So I chose journalism.
A story told is a life lived
and I want to live the lives of every profession.
2. When did you begin your job search and what did that process entail?
I started my job search as soon as I moved to San Diego as a freshman. On my campus tour, I looked up at the KPBS building on campus and told my dad, “I’m going to work there one day.” I didn’t realize that the one day was actually that first year of college. As a newsroom production assistant at KPBS, I honed my radio voice and copy-writing abilities. After three years working beside reporters and editors, I noticed I was comfortable and wanted more experience in another field of media. I applied to several internships and was a little too familiar with the internship advisor. Finally, after several interviews, I landed an internship at an influencer marketing company. I was an unpaid Creative Team Intern, but I was getting new opportunities and class credit. After just a month at that position, my supervisor told me that several other departments in the company were expressing interest in me. I had conducted several trend reports that were getting recognized internally and externally. One of my Instagram posts for the company received over 4x the average engagement. Even a London Public Relation’s social media account reposted some of my findings.
3. When did you receive your official job offer and what was your reaction?
Not even two months into the internship, the Creative Team Project Manager told me that the marketing director and CEO wanted to offer me a deal in the marketing department as a paid intern. This position would then flow into full-time come graduation. KPBS and a publishing firm expressed interest in hiring me at the same time. I told several professors and they helped me with negotiation strategies. In the end, I was able to use these other job offers as leverage to negotiate a higher salary and better benefits. Needless to say, I was thrilled. I could not have imagined a better last semester and am blessed to have a great-paying job lined up for when I graduate.
4. What advice do you have for fellow students, regardless of their field, looking to jumpstart their career post-graduation?
Take advantage of your student status. Professionals in companies love helping students. You aren’t expected to know it all yet, so ask questions. Network, network, network. When I was a freshman, I started a list of contacts. I would reach out to them every few months and update them with where I was at. Most importantly, get to know your professors. They are employed to help you. If it wasn’t for the internship advisor, Christie Ritter, I wouldn’t have my job lined up for post-graduation. She was the one that recommended that internship which turned into full-time employment. All of my professors cheered me on and gave their valuable insight that helped me succeed.
5. What is it that you are most looking forward to as you kick start this next chapter? How did SDSU prepare you for success not only at the university but after graduation?
I am looking forward to having one boss. I was working a part-time job at the news station reporting to several editors. On top of that, I had 4-5 professors every semester and an internship supervisor. After graduation, the chain of command will be narrowed down to one boss, one job. I still am referencing lectures and slides from past classes. I still plan to keep in contact with almost all of my journalism professors. They helped form the foundation that I use to impact the company I am with now. One of the reasons I was hired was due to my well-rounded understanding of the media. Not only did I have knowledge of news writing, but also public relations, social media, and creative writing (thanks to my minor).
6. What experience at SDSU has changed your life the most?
I was a part of several events, groups, clubs, and organizations over the 4 years at SDSU. As I look back on the memories, I can only see the people that were there doing college with me. Other classmates and professors have pushed me farther than I thought possible. I tried many things in college that ended in college: a podcast for KCR and I was even an SDSU social media manager with my own office in the College of Sciences. Even if it didn’t last long, I tried, I attempted. I didn’t fail. I just learned. Your first attempt isn’t going to be the best. You will gradually get better. I learned at SDSU not to strive for perfection, but to strive for progress. The first step to success is often taking that first step. SDSU was my first step to the rest of my life.
The content within this article has been edited by Lizbeth Persons.