On September 18th, GVSU Alumna Jennifer Cunningham (2003, Advertising and Public Relations) visited campus to talk about her career as a Navy Reserve public affairs officer. While this wasn’t necessarily the career Cunningham imagined when at school, she couldn’t be more excited about the opportunities and experiences she has received through the Navy.
“I had absolutely no idea I’d end up working as a Navy Reserve public affairs officer,” said Cunningham. “Other than a grandfather who had served in World War II, I did not come from a military family and serving in the military wasn’t anywhere on my radar. In fact, it wasn’t until about five years after I graduated from GVSU that I event considered it.”
Cunningham was interested in furthering her public relations career by taking a job that had more responsibility. Unfortunately, the jobs that Cunningham interviewed for required supervising skills and at the time, Cunningham hadn’t acquired these skills.
“I had, at that point, always worked at non-profits, which is where my passion was,” said Cunningham. “I was generally a one-woman-shop in charge of everything related to public relations and communications, but other than a few interns had never supervised anyone.”
However, with determination and support from her husband, Cunningham decided to pursue a position with the Navy.
“I thought about it and did some research. I realized that [working in the Navy] would be a perfect fit in my life,” said Cunningham. “Now only would I get the chance to develop my leadership skills, but I’d also have the chance to serve my country—something that only 1 percent of the nation does.”
Cunningham also touched on how her education at GVSU helped her obtain this job with the Navy.
“If I had to choose which classes were most helpful in me being selected as public affairs officer (which is a very competitive board), I’d have to say the media relations classes–especially media training, basic public relations classes, and the basic journalism classes,” said Cunningham. “However, if I had not become a well-rounded PR professional due to the great training at GVSU, I don’t think I would have been selected to become a public affairs officer.”
More information about Jennifer Cunningham is available at http://www.imagery.navy.mil/2012nma/assets/cunningham.pdf.