I’m excited to announce my newest series, Interview with an Industry Insider! I’m always eager to profile talented professionals and was looking for a way to share their stories and connect with other PR professionals and Digital Marketers in the city. And voila – my new series was born. Each month I’ll be profiling an industry insider in the hopes that it will provide real life scenarios, helpful tips/advice and great connections. Enjoy!
Meet Carmen Cheung: I first met her at a CPRS Event last year and we immediately connected over our SFU PR background. She’s a born adventurer (she was born in Hong Kong and has lived in Vancouver and Chicago), blogger (check out her posts over at Hello Vancity) and is an extremely talented event planner. So without further ado, I’m happy to introduce my friend, Carmen.
- Who are you? My name is Carmen Cheung.
- Where do you work? I am a self-employed, independent Marketing and Event Coordinator…For about 5 months now!
- Tell us your story – why PR? How’d you get here? When I was working towards my degree, I did an event planning internship at the Asian American Cultural Centre at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. While I loved event planning, I had no idea it could actually be a career. So during my 4th year of University, I randomly decided to look up schools in Public Relations. I was most intrigued by the SFU Public Relations Program because I was interested in returning to Vancouver, and there was an event-planning component to the course.
- What do you enjoy most about it? While some people may hate it, I love how broad PR is. I love the ability to pick and choose what you specialize in, but still have the ability to work in other areas.
- Resources/mentors throughout your career? Fawn Mulcahy, one of the instructors at my SFU program, has been a great resource and mentor for me. Not only is she doing what I love, planning events, but also she graciously makes herself available as a resource when I’m in need. Felicia Lee, one of my clients, has been a great mentor for me during my career. While I help to coordinate her events, I’ve learned so much from her in terms of running my own business or really marketing myself. It helps that she’s a business coach too 😉
- Biggest success so far? I’ve recently had the pleasure of organizing the eWomenNetwork “Living Brave” Success Summit. After months of planning, the event was a smashing success! Guests enjoyed it, the food was great, and the flow of the day went smoothly. I’m a bit sad it’s over.
- Biggest challenge (and how’d you overcome it)? My biggest challenge was figuring out what I wanted to do after my PR program finished. I remember sitting in class, the first day, and hearing the different career paths I could go. “You can either work for an agency, be client-side, or go independent.” I remember thinking to myself…independent? No freaking way! And well…look where I am now. It was a struggle to commit to being fully independent but now I love it! I had a self-realization that the fear of being my own boss was irrational. I figured, if I’m going to do this…why let age or experiences stop me? I’m still struggling with being confident that this is the right choice but I’m going to take each day as it comes. So far, so good.
- What’s the future look like for you? Everything is still new to me at the moment. I’m enjoying the clients I work with and the experiences I have. I’m going to dream big…in 5 years…I hope to have my own event agency. That’d be amazing!
- Words of advice for aspiring PR pros? Don’t limit yourself! Or rule anything out! As much as I would appreciate agency and client-side experience, I love being independent. Be open to possibilities…and go out there and just meet people.
- Are you willing to be contacted for networking, coffee/tea, career advice, etc.? Yes!
PS. Do you have someone awesome in mind that you’d like to nominate for next months interview? I’m always open to suggestions and look forward to your recommendations!