Name: Bridget Hepworth
Major: public relations
Hometown: Waterloo, Iowa
Bridget Hepworth came to Iowa State as an elementary education major but found her footing in public relations. As her senior year comes to a close, she shares how studying abroad in Italy, working at the Writing and Media Center on campus and being involved with the Iowa State Daily and Film Producers Club have shaped her career goals and boosted her confidence.
What have been your highs and lows throughout college and how did you navigate them?
My low was definitely my freshman year. I was miserable because I wasn’t studying the right thing. I wasn’t understanding my major at the time, I felt like I was really bad at it, and I didn’t bond with my classmates. For me, the solution was to change my major. Everything improved after that.
I think my high honestly has been my senior year. I feel solid in my involvement and confident in being a student. I feel really well-rounded this year in different things and in my classes. It makes me not want to leave!
When did you decide to switch majors, and how did you know public relations was a good fit for you?
I was an elementary education major for a whole year, but I recognized it was not for me probably in the first semester. So that summer after freshman year I didn’t know what I wanted to major in. I was sort of in a rush to switch out of my old major. My roommate was a public relations major, and she explained what public relations involves and how it encompasses so many parts of life that I didn’t even realize. I thought it sounded like something I could definitely excel in and even enjoy. So, I went in sort of blindly that first semester, but I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to have made the right choice.
It’s just funny that my roommate sold the idea of it to me. And we aren’t interested in the same parts of the major either so it doesn’t feel like we’re doing the same thing.
What has been your favorite Greenlee experience?
Oh, hands down, Urbino. You can’t beat it. I don’t want to say life-changing because that’s a little dramatic, but it was definitely life-shaping. I came back and I felt like I had a new aspect of my personality — open to other stuff. I knew more, and I got the small-town feeling studying in Urbino. You can’t really get that anywhere else.
Read more about Bridget’s 2018 experience studying in Urbino, Italy in this blog post. `
What activities have you been involved in as a member of the Iowa State Film Producers Club?
It’s different every week. Some of the activities this semester have been about avant-garde film, which is less about plot or dialogue and more about the feeling of the movie. We are also editing videos in Premiere Pro. It’s fun to be making things every week and you show what you’ve made at the end of every club meeting. Being able to see what everyone else has done with maybe one little prompt is so fun. It’s just a fun few hours every week.
We also have a 48 Hour Film Festival each year. When the 48 hours begins, you are given a line that you have to say and an object that has to be in the film. It was a lot of work last year! I think I slept for three or four hours one night and then two hours the next one because it was constant filming. You are coming up with the ideas, writing the script, learning the script and filming and editing it in 48 hours. I loved it, and the pressure was awesome! I loved setting aside a whole weekend for it and not worrying about anything else and just focusing on our project. The people I worked with were fun, and it never felt like bad work. It was just busy, fun and rewarding.
What did you learn from your time as a copy editor at the Iowa State Daily?
You kind of follow the publishing process. First, the writers give their stories to the editors. The editors edit the stories and then send them to the copy editors to proofread for AP style. Then the stories are sent to the copy chief. That it is just the proofreading part. I would read all of the stories that would be going into the paper the next day. We were also responsible for writing the headlines for the stories. The original writers might have already had rough ones, but we would copyfit them to the layout in Adobe InDesign. If there were subheadline, we would have to make sure they would fit with the new headlines. It was kind of an art. I learned AP style, editing, InDesign, how to be part of a team and the cyclical, fast-paced newspaper process.
What is it like having a job on campus with the Writing and Media Center, and how do you see this position helping you with your career?
It’s awesome. That’s been the big factor in my confidence level this year. It’s fulfilling because you’re collaborating with students every day as their peer, and that feels good. It never feels like “I’m this person who knows more than you.” They talk about their ideas, and then you bounce back different ideas. We can help with style, grammar and formatting, but overall it’s a collaboration. So that’s been really cool to walk away from a session with a student and feel like that was really helpful to them. They feel much better about what they are turning in based on my opinions.
The collaboration part will help me the most in my career. We aren’t telling people what to do with their papers, but there is a level of authority because they are coming to you for help. It’s also been really helpful in growing my confidence as someone who can give advice and help others. There are a lot of styles, types and topics of writing that I would have never talked about or heard about if other students hadn’t come in. So I am learning a lot while also helping people.
What are your favorite aspects of PR and how have they shaped your career goals?
I’m a writer by all definitions, so the writing aspects of PR have been both a challenge as a new way of writing but also some of my favorite parts of the coursework. There’s so much more than press releases that a PR professional must be skilled at writing, so that process of learning for me is definitely what led me to explore the writing side of communications as a career.
What advice do you have for incoming students?
Don’t be afraid to be in the wrong major. I feel like everyone tends to struggle with that a little bit when they’re choosing a major. I would first offer some words of comfort, as it’s a completely normal and okay thing to be unsure of your next major. I would then encourage them to talk to their friends, family, roommates and whoever because sometimes the people who know you can recognize what you’d be good at better than you. It’s also not a bad idea to meet with advisors from other majors you might be interested in, they’re more than happy to help and they will give you a good idea of what it would look like switching over to them.
There are safeties put in place where if that happens to you, you have the time. You’re still completing things, like electives and general education requirements, in order to graduate. Those general classes could lead you to things that you didn’t know you were interested in. So take classes you are interested in that aren’t necessarily required for your major. If they make you happy in any way, you’re paying for school already so you might as well do something that’s actually beneficial for you.
Interview by Grace Ekema; edited for length and clarity.