With nearly 40 years of corporate and agency experience, why did you decide to become the director of DePaul’s graduate Public Relations and Advertising (PRAD) program?
Throughout my career, I’ve had the good fortune of having great mentors and I wanted to become one myself. I began writing my career blog (www.culpwrit.com
) and speaking to public relations classes at universities. These experiences solidified my belief that teaching at an academic institution like DePaul would enable me to share my experiences with future leaders.
Describe your career path.
By accident and good luck, my career path has covered many key areas of communication, including media, politics, corporate and agency work, and now teaching. I began my career in the media as a reporter, thinking I would like to eventually own my own newspaper. I then moved into corporate positions in four distinct industries — pharmaceuticals, office systems, consumer products and retailing. After working with many advertising and public relations agencies for our corporate projects, I decided I wanted to experience agency life first-hand. While working at Ketchum, I met DePaul professor Theresa Mastin, whose help resulted in this amazing career move becoming a part of the DePaul faculty.
What excites you the most about your position at DePaul?
Encouraging students to make bold decisions. I’ve often used the expression, “If you build it, they will come.” DePaul’s dramatic growth stems from this kind of entrepreneurial attitude, based on what’s best for its students. DePaul has assembled an impressive contingent of faculty members that includes outstanding academics and accomplished professionals, which is rare in academia. I’m excited about what’s possible for our students because of our real-world focus and agility in the PRAD program.
How does going to school in Chicago benefit PRAD students?
Chicago is arguably the second largest market in the US for public relations and advertising talent — and I actually think it’s the best. The “price of entry” to the profession is passion and talent, both of which are quickly apparent during the professional interview process. DePaul’s PRAD program helps develop students who are passionate about succeeding in their chosen profession.
Describe your course “Career Strategies for Public Relations and Advertising.”
This class is designed to provide insight into the real world of public relations and advertising. I bring in former colleagues from the industry into class to share their career stories and job responsibilities. Also, several of the classes are held in agency settings, helping students become comfortable with the environment where they’ll be interviewing – and hopefully working.
What advice would you give to a student pursuing a career in public relations and advertising?
Find your passion. Identify the types of jobs that intrigue you. Lay the groundwork for a college experience that builds a resumé that will help you reach your career goals. Get involved in extracurricular activities such as Public Relations Student Society of America, International Association of Business Communicators and other communication organizations. Volunteer for nonprofit organizations that complement your career goals.