Senior Account Executive, Botica Butler Raudon Public Relations
Postgraduate Diploma in Communication Studies
What she loves most about public relations is that it’s about people, says Sharon Lee who came to AUT as an international student from Hong Kong to complete a Postgraduate Diploma in Communication Studies.
“Public relations is all about building relationships with clients and building relationships with journalists. Today’s world is filled with information, making it harder to stand out, so you’re constantly trying to find creative ways to help companies build their brand and tell their story.
“In my role at Botica Butler Raudon Public Relations I get to work with a lot of clients in different industries. That means I need to educate myself on these industries too, whether it’s microprocessors, cybersecurity or drug testing. I’ve learnt so much.”
Finding her path
While she had previously worked in communication-related roles in Asia and the US, it was at AUT that Sharon discovered her passion for public relations.
“When I first came to AUT I didn’t have a specialisation and took a wide variety of classes. For the sake of curiosity I took my first PR class, and was so impressed by the breadth of knowledge of our lecturer; her charisma and her wit. I found her inspiring and then switched all my courses to PR after that.”
Her lecturer also helped Sharon overcome a hurdle many international students face – a lack of New Zealand work experience.
“New Zealand has a lot of cultural quirks and companies here appreciate local expertise. My lecturer recommended a few PR agencies for me to contact to gain exposure to Kiwi professionals and companies. Botica Butler Raudon Public Relations was one of them, and they liked my portfolio and invited me for an interview. I liked how kind, dedicated and creative the people there are. They offered me an internship which has since turned into a permanent role as a senior account executive.”
Advice for other students
Sharon, who graduated from AUT in August 2020, has some great advice for other students.
“A good university is a great place to build strong relationships with your lecturers and classmates. Through my studies, I built friendships with people from all over the world who are now in different communications roles and companies.”
If you’re studying PR there are great resources you can access, she adds.
“The Public Relations Institute of New Zealand offers really great training. As an international student I found that especially helpful as PR in New Zealand can be a little different from what I know or what the textbooks cover, which focus on the US. PRINZ offered a lot of helpful training modules, especially during the COVID-19 lockdown. I found that helped a lot.”