Olivia Lason ‘17, a student pursuing her M.A. in Public Relations, a graduate program within the College of Communication and the Arts, recently completed an internship with Pfizer, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. Lason earned the opportunity to make valuable contributions to the Corporate Affairs division during her time as an intern including curating content for an internal news portal, creating visual graphics for the promotion of internal events, and supporting the Corporate Responsibility team with focused social media efforts.
Lason, who holds a B.A. in Public Relations from the University, shared that one of her favorite moments from her internship experience was being tasked with writing the Executive Vice President of Strategy and Commercial Operations’ opening remarks for a large-scale event.
“Knowing that I wrote her opening remarks was phenomenal, especially (considering she was such) a prominent executive,” said Lason, who pointed out that the speech was heard by an audience of more than 150 people. “Knowing that I had the capability to represent her made me very proud of my public relations and writing background.”
That speech was not the only major project Lason worked on for Pfizer. Throughout her tenure, Lason developed a catalog using tags and an online cloud system so employees could easily retrieve waivers and images related to the company’s overseas corporate responsibility trips. She also wrote a guide outlining how the catalog should be searched, managed, and updated. This culminated with Lason presenting her efforts to members of Pfizer’s Corporate Responsibility team, who she said thanked her for her work and praised her attention to detail.
Beyond these projects, Lason also learned the value of networking. Specifically, she attended “Lunch and Learns” with Pfizer employees, which gave her the chance to connect with the professionals she worked with on a more personal level while also learning about various positions within corporate affairs. Additionally, she seized opportunities to spend time with her colleagues to familiarize herself with their backgrounds. Doing so was a great way of making contacts, she said, and she would advise other interns to do the same.
Lason also recommended that students should look to their existing networks to obtain internships in the first place. She notes that she would not have considered applying to Pfizer had it not been for her mentor in the College’s undergraduate Communication Honors Associates Mentor Program (CHAMP), who worked for the pharmaceutical company. Seeking guidance from others is a good way of finding opportunities people might not have known existed, she shared.
“My advice is to not be afraid to network and step out of your comfort zone,” Lason said. “There are so many different types of industries out there and communication is always a part of them. All it takes is asking for help and taking that first step — the rest tends to be easy.”
Commuting to Pfizer’s New York City office throughout the week was not simple, but Lason said she enjoyed every day of her internship. She revealed that she especially appreciated the chance to sit in on meetings with executives — something she specifically asked to do in addition to her work — since it allowed her to observe corporate culture firsthand.
Lason stays involved on campus, too. She currently holds a graduate assistantship within the College of Communication and the Arts, where she writes promotional materials, supports the College’s social media efforts, and performs other tasks within the Office of the Dean. In addition, she serves as the Graduate Assistant Steward for the College’s Communication and Arts Graduate Student Association.
Her ultimate goal is to serve as a director of a corporate foundation dedicated to making a social impact. As for what kind of foundation that may be, Lason is still unsure. She, however, credits her internship with Pfizer for providing her a newfound understanding for the role pharmaceutical companies play in helping patients. But wherever she ends up, Lason knows the skills she honed through her internship are vital.
“I am very passionate about making a difference and want to make sure my passion and communication background are aligned,” Lason shared. “Having a background at Pfizer will help distinguish my ability to work across all aspects of business.”
The College currently offers three Master's-level programs, including Museum Professions, Strategic Communication, and Public Relations. In addition, four dual-degree options, including three accelerated B.A./M.A. programs and a dual M.A. degree with the School of Diplomacy and International Relations are offered. A Ph.D. program is currently under development.