PR Grad Vipan Gill – A Life-Changing Decision Made on a Whim
By: Nora Anwar and Madhumonti Maitra
Vipan Gill, an alumnus of the Public Relations – Corporate Communications (PRCC) program at Seneca College who started this program on a whim, now works for one of the biggest PR companies in the world, FleishmanHillard. Vipan took the time to share her wisdom in the PRCC program, life in New York and some industry insights during a guest lecture at Seneca@York last week.
“When I first started this program, I was scared. I didn’t even know what a press release was!” Vipan came to PRCC feeling lost after finishing university, stuck in a job she didn’t like. On the recommendation of a friend, she came to Seneca in search of her passion and found it in a place she least expected. “You never really know where things are really going to take you, so take every opportunity with an open mind and a hunger for knowledge. You never know that path that you will end up going down.”
“In order to succeed in this program, you need to suck it up and do the work. Nothing you learn here is rocket science.”
“My suggestion is to try to stay on top of your work. Do the individual work first and get it out of the way, because that’s something you can hold yourself accountable for. Teamwork is more complicated because you need to manage your teammate’s time as well as yours.”
One of the biggest concerns for students starting in the program is presentations, and Vipan shares her key to success. “Rehearse! Rehearse! Rehearse! There is no way around it but to rehearse.”
“If there’s anything you should be focusing on it is your writing,” warns Vipan. “You need to learn to write quickly, clearly and concisely because people don’t like big reports in PR.”
“Everyone has a different process for writing,” she says. “What I like to do is I write down everything on one page, and I will leave it there and take a break, and I read it out loud.”
Cracking the industry
“The gatekeeper of the industry is the interview process. In order to be successful, these are my tips: don’t ramble, research the culture, be confident, keep an open mind, give everything a chance.”
Vipan also discusses the industry differences in Agency and Corporate. “You never really stop working. Agency might not be the best fit for you if you like to work nine-to-five. But it’s got a lot of flexibility, and it’s not very predictable.”
She also warned us to find balance. “If you’re new, then you are expected to be working all the time and being visible. Maximize your face time with many important people. Be present in the office as much as you can but set some time for yourself don’t burn yourself out because you won’t be able to produce good quality work.”
“The key to success in the workplace is time management,” cautions Vipan. “The account leads will not chase you. As a junior staff it is your responsibility manage upwards. They’re not going to know who assigned what to you, so very quickly you will find yourself drowning in work. The key is to manage an open line of communication.”
Vipan is enjoying life in New York City. She loves the busy lifestyle and has fantastic things to say about the city and the industry. While sharing her views about the difference between New York and Toronto, she said, “The industry is the same, but the pace is different. New York is more fast-paced, time is money in New York. Every single stereotype you can think of New York is 100 per cent accurate.”
Vipan’s company is working on her work visa to keep her on board, which is rather rare in the industry. She is the living proof that big agencies are looking for the best talent because talent is what makes a difference. Seneca prepared her well!
Madhumonti Maitra and Nora Anwar are current students in the PRCC program in the Faculty of Communication, Art & Design. Nora, a graduate of Renmin University of China, is a coffee buff and crazy about Swedish metal music. Madhumonti, a graduate of Singhania University in India, loves entertainment industry and hopes to pursue her career in that industry.