Public relations students in Professor Kelly Bruhn’s PR capstone course work in teams of six to create strategic communications plans for a community partner. The 2019–2020 partner was Al Éxito, a not-for-profit that “builds the leadership potential” of Central Iowa Latino/a youth through “college preparation, career development, civic engagement, family support, and celebration of culture.”
Each team in the course functioned like an individual agency. They created contracts to formalize team member expectations and to ensure that they would be prepared to deliver professional-quality work to clients. Like professionals working remotely during the pandemic, the students had to use technology to facilitate collaboration.
“In this semester, it was critically important that student agency teams communicated effectively to be successful,” Bruhn said. “If a team member was struggling, they had to be comfortable (and confident) enough to step forward to ask for help. They increased their check-ins with one another, and they created detailed timelines to complete their comprehensive plans.”
While Bruhn acknowledged the difficulties the pandemic presented to her students, she feels the unique experience will better prepare them for life after college.
“We are building leaders, and they will have to manage through uncertainty throughout their careers,” Bruhn said. “Because of their experiences now, I know they will be better positioned for success.”