IABC member Danica Hidalgo learned about the value of IABC long before her communication career began. While studying at The University of Winnipeg’s Professional, Applied and Continuing Education program, Hidalgo volunteered with the IABC Manitoba chapter as a student liaison. After receiving her diplomas, she started a career as a communications coordinator at Dooley PR & Marketing and continues to serve IABC Manitoba.
Here, Hidalgo shares why IABC membership is valuable to her as both a former student and a communication professional, three pieces of advice and how she continues to grow in her career with the support of IABC.
You’ve been volunteering with IABC Manitoba throughout your university career. How did you get involved with the chapter?
I studied public relations, marketing and strategic communications at The University of Winnipeg’s Professional, Applied and Continuing Education (UWinnipeg PACE) program. It is a condensed (and intense!) one-year program that provided me with a public relations and strategic communications diploma, a marketing diploma and a management certificate.
The IABC Manitoba chapter president, Marjorie Huculak, visited our class along with another board member to talk about IABC. She shared the benefits of being a part of the Manitoba chapter and what it’s like connecting with an international association. The goodies she brought caught my attention for sure, but what captured me more was what members can gain from being involved with IABC and connecting with communication professionals locally and internationally.
IABC Manitoba shared a volunteer position opening for a student liaison, and I immediately sent in my application. I got the position and I joined the Professional Development (PD) and Events committee after I graduated in October 2020.
Share a bit about your background in communication. What drew you to studying this discipline at the University of Winnipeg?
I was working at a downtown Winnipeg hotel as a supervisor when I decided to change my career path. It was very impulsive. One day I realized I wanted to do something creative and thought I’d be good at marketing, since I’m into photography and filmmaking. I Googled marketing courses, which led me to a program at UWinnipeg PACE. I met with the program manager, who advised that I was qualified for the public relations, marketing and strategic communications program. Through this, I’d also get a PR and strategic communications diploma, in addition to the marketing diploma I was originally seeking.
I barely knew anything about marketing, and I knew absolutely nothing about PR. In short, I had zero industry knowledge.
Our instructors at school were all practicing industry professionals, so we weren’t only learning about theories — we were taught their real-life experiences and given projects that they themselves worked on. Because of their expertise, I turned from clueless to ready to take on the Manitoba communications world.
I started my internship at Dooley PR & Marketing as part of an internship program at school. They hired me for a full-time position as their communications coordinator about a week before my internship ended.
You used funds from an academic award to renew your IABC membership. Why was that valuable to you?
I initially became an IABC student member because membership was a part of our tuition at UWinnipeg PACE. I won the IABC award and decided to use part of that scholarship fund to renew my IABC membership. It is important for me to continue networking with other communication professionals and continue my learning through the various PD and events, as well as from the different learning tools offered by IABC. The great part about IABC is I’m not only learning from a Manitoban perspective — I also learn from communicators from around the world.
In reflecting on your journey to become a communication professional, what are some of the milestones or lessons learned that got you where you are today?
- Networking, networking and more networking!
When UWinnipeg PACE graduates dropped by our class to share tips, they never failed to mention how important networking is. Now that I’m done with school, I couldn’t echo their advice enough. Coming from a student perspective, networking exposes you to people from different industries you may want to work in in the future, and they can give you insights into a future career path. It may be a different world we live in right now, but there are tons of virtual networking events you can attend.
One of the many reasons why I love communication is that it’s always evolving. There are plenty of resources (like IABC!) that are available to educate us and help us keep up with the current trends. Find a mentor who you can ask questions and learn from. Attend professional development events. There are also a lot of free certifications that you can take to boost your skillset, like taking Google Analytics and Google Ads certifications.
Lastly, what’s always been most important for me is to show kindness to everyone I meet. Communicating with kindness goes a long way.
Share the benefits of IABC membership with the student communicators in your life to help them jumpstart their communication career.
Danica Hidalgo is a communications coordinator at Dooley PR & Marketing.