Lauren Scallen is a Marketing and Social Media Coordinator for the digital shopping platform ShopStyle, as well as a brand ambassador/influencer. She graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University and the Centennial College PR program.
Did you find your education provided a helpful background when you started your career?
I went to Wilfrid Laurier University for my undergrad and studied Communications. I really didn’t know what I wanted to do; I mean who does at 18? I knew I loved media and digital marketing but PR never seemed like an option. It wasn’t until my fourth and final year at Laurier that I began to research more about the PR world and what it entailed. I then went to Centennial College and pursued a post-grad in their Public Relations and Corporate Communications Program.
This program is insane, and I mean that in the best way possible. You learn so much in two semesters. I gained a lot of confidence in my writing and my marketing skills. I was completely prepared for the “real PR” world when it came time to apply for internships.
Now, in my big girl PR job, I find myself constantly using the skills that I learned in my program. It offered me an insight into the PR world that I’m very thankful for.
What was your first job after graduation?
I was part of the marketing team for the Toronto Blue Jays! We were called the Activation Team and were responsible for all the fun events that happen during the baseball season at the stadium. From giveaways to Junior Jays Saturdays I truly ate, slept and breathed baseball. It’s one of my favourite jobs I’ve ever had and it really taught me how to interact professionally with celebrities and professional athletes, how to work as a team to achieve a common goal and definitely how to work under pressure!
What are some important lessons you learned while job hunting?
Patience is everything. You’re not going to find your dream job right away! Also, be creative when applying for the positions that you want. The reason I got an interview for my current job is that I messaged my now boss on Instagram. Utilize every tool available to you. Sometimes landing the interview you want isn’t about how good your resume looks.
What advice do you have for a new graduate who is having difficulty finding stable employment?
Been there! Trust me. It took me a long time too. I found a sector of PR that I wanted to work in and a place that I loved. Shopstyle wasn’t handed to me the day after I graduated. It took me over a year and a half to find this “big girl” job.
Be patient, stay up to date with what’s going on in the industry and attend as many networking events possible. At the end of the day, people hire who they like so creating a relationship with somebody face-to-face is way more important than hiding behind your resume.
Also, you’re going to hear a lot of no’s but don’t let that discourage you. The right yes is coming. Keep applying, keep reaching out and keep volunteering!
What skills does one need to survive in the communications industry?
Strong verbal and written communication skills and organization are the two skills that you absolutely must have to survive the communications industry.
Oh, and thick skin. In the first week of my PR internship, I cried in the bathroom at least three times because I felt like I was in the completely wrong industry. The second week I realized that constructive criticism doesn’t mean you’re failing. You need to be able to communicate your ideas and feelings effectively but also take criticism as a learning opportunity.
Also, learning professional emailing skills is a must. I cringe looking back at some of the emails I sent to professionals!
Is work-life balance possible and how do you achieve it?
Absolutely! A work-life balance is extremely important. Burning yourself out will only result in poor work. I like to really separate my work life and my home life. I don’t answer emails on the weekend unless it’s an absolute emergency. During the week I dedicate to “me time”. I have a post-work routine that I follow very religiously that helps me wind down from my day. Your physical and mental health is more important than your job, period. Make time to ensure that you are feeling your best.
How do you handle demanding clients?
I work in fashion and handle a lot of retailers that want results and previews instantaneously. I approach my demanding clients with stern but empathetic communication. They will be understanding if you tell them, “Hey listen I want to create the best work possible for you and need some more time to do so.” In the end, you both want to see results and you both want great work to be done. Be understanding of their needs and wants.
When in doubt pick up the phone and have a conversation. Emails can get messy. I prefer to speak to my demanding clients over the phone so that communication never gets lost in translation!
What’s the coolest thing you’ve seen or experienced on the job?
I think just really being in the centre of something that a lot of people are on the outside of. I have the inside scoop on what’s trending. I got to experience the Blue Jays during the playoffs a few years ago. I was in the stadium working when the Bautista bat flip happened.
It was truly the most incredible experience of my life. The energy in the stadium was electrifying. I couldn’t sleep that night because I was on this incredible high. Even if you’re not into sports, I would highly recommend starting your PR career in the sports world. The passion seen in stadiums is like nothing I’ve ever seen before.
What is something a PR newbie can do to bulk up their resume?
Volunteer! Experience is everything no matter what it may be. I also added my own personal blog and social media to my resume. Now, this is a little bit of a slippery slope and many people will advise against this. But I grew a following and am very proud of the content that I create for my blog and my social platforms. It shows that I understand my audience and that I can use social media as a tool.
Do you do any freelance work on the side, and if so, what?
I have a little bit of a side hustle going with my first love; blogging. I started my blog a few years ago but really revamped it in October 2018. I discuss all things beauty and lifestyle. Sephora is basically my second home.
I’ve worked with many beauty brands to produce content on my own social media and give my honest review of products. Right now I’m currently working with Boots & Hearts as one of their 2019 brand ambassadors. I love country music so this is a fitting partnership for me.
If you’re passionate about something go after it. I work a 9-5 but that doesn’t mean I can’t pursue my passions on my own time. I’m currently writing a book as well but that’s all the info I can give you, for now!
What is a typical work-day like for you?
I get up at 6 a.m. to start my day and get ready for work. I commute to work so I get up a little earlier for that. I like to start my day at the office with a cup of tea and breakfast while I scroll through my emails to see what needs my attention first.
Now the actual days always vary! I think that’s the beauty of working in this industry. Every day is different. Sometimes I’m working on creating new content for our homepage, sometimes I’m writing and designing emails for retailers or sitting in meetings with the other Shopstyle teams (US and UK) to discuss international business and opportunities with the collective side of our business.
My days vary but they are almost always 9-5. They also go by super fast: I blink and it’s lunchtime and blink again and it’s time to go home. I’m very busy but I love the work that I’m doing.