What are some of your main job responsibilities as a public information specialist for the Round Rock Police Department?
My main duties include media relations, social media and internal communications. I write and host an internal video briefing for our officers and civilian staff that airs every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It covers crime bulletins, logistics and employee recognition. It’s like I’m the anchor of my own nightly news show, although I try to inject some Tonight Show humor in there as well.
Why are strong communication skills so important to your job?
Interacting with the media can be tough. In policing, there are times in an active incident when all the facts are not yet known. Sometimes the facts are known, but you have to make sure the victims’ families have been notified or that revealing the information won’t hinder the investigation. It is important to communicate early and often with reporters so that they know you are working hard to get them as much information as possible.
When you were researching graduate programs, what drew you to apply to the Schieffer College at TCU?
It is rare to find graduate assistantships in public relations. I was fortunate enough to earn one from the Schieffer College. The financial assistance is huge, but I also benefitted from my time serving as a research and teaching assistant. The small class sizes created an environment where I knew each of my classmates and professors personally. I did not have that in my undergraduate studies. Of course, I was already a big fan of Bob Schieffer.
How do you think your graduate program within the Schieffer College prepared you for your career?
One of my goals going into grad school was to make contacts that would help jumpstart my career. I got to know Dr. Jacque Lambiase and she recommended me for an internship with the local nonprofit Streams and Valleys, Inc. and that led to my first real job with Fort Worth Bike Sharing. Also, it seems like every course in the Schieffer College required students to make presentations to the class. Public speaking is a vital skill in the communications industry and it’s one best gained through practice.
If a current or prospective student is interested in pursuing the professional communication work you’re in now, what advice would you give that person?
Get to know your professors. TCU hosts the Certified Public Communicator Program, which provides training for government communication professionals from across the country. Many of the professors in the Schieffer College are instructors in this program. They are well-known and respected as leaders in the field. I hope to take part in that program myself someday.
Is there anything else I didn’t ask that you’d like to share?
Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. Every career includes at least a couple of lucky breaks. It’s up to you to take advantage of them. Do everything you can to be ready for that next golden opportunity.