Jenna Oltersdorf, Principal, Snackbox
In my years in PR, I’ve learned the importance of having someone to go to for advice and guidance, career or otherwise. I’ve made it a point to be that person for young professionals, especially women. Entering the real world after graduation can be scary; they only teach you so much in school and having a mentor to help you transition into the “real world” can make all the difference.
More than 11 years ago I started Snackbox, a PR and design firm based in Austin, Texas. I wanted to do things differently than the international firm I was working with at the time. It seemed like other firms saw their employees just as means to an end, and didn’t take the time to inspire or lead. To me, there’s nothing more gratifying than giving a young woman who is just starting out in her career your time and knowledge. I regularly work to empower people entering the PR world on how to interview, work fashion (business casual is such a nebulous term) and media relations. It’s thrilling to see them go onto work at notable agencies and news outlets.
Through Snackbox, I created a proprietary apprenticeship program in which students get to work closely with clients and learn skills that will put them ahead of the pack when it comes to job hunting after graduation. Making coffee is not in their job description. At the end of the two-part program, they will have the skills to begin their career as an entry level PR pro and be confident when they interview.
Although PR is a woman-dominated industry, you still find yourself in conference rooms full of men to impress, typically the ones you’re pitching your business to. Empowering and leading women so they’re prepared in any situation is what will set them apart in the end. My favorite tip is to put on a pair of high heels you know you can own a room in and fake that confidence till you feel it. I work to empower these young women and give them opportunities not everyone gets. I’ve learned what it takes to be a successful businesswoman, including all the stuff they don’t teach you in school. Female empowerment is something I am very passionate about, and I hope to share my tips, thoughts and experiences with as many aspiring female professionals and entrepreneurs as I can.