Putting Classroom Skills into Action at a Global Public Relations Firm

February 28, 2018

Alt Text



Entering its fourth year, the Finn Partners-Widmeyer Communications Scholar program continues to help launch careers by giving SMPA graduate students the opportunity to put the skills they are learning in the classroom into action at a global communications firm.


The partnership with Finn Partners, a marketing communications firm with over 600 employees and 14 offices around the globe, brings a student in SMPA’s Media and Strategic Communication graduate program to their D.C. office for the fellowship program each school year.

The fellowship is an opportunity for students to take the skills they are learning in the classroom and use them to develop and execute strategic communications plans for a wide range of clients. The program provides tuition assistance and a salary for students while building a pipeline for top young talent at Finn Partners, a rapidly growing firm.

Scott Widmeyer, the chair of SMPA’s National Council for Media and Public Affairs and a founding managing partner at Finn Partners and chief strategy officer of the D.C. office, facilitated the scholarship program with SMPA Director Frank Sesno.

“We have been blown away by the talent that has come from these students. We’re really proud to be able to say that two of the four fellows that have gone through the program are now full-time employees here at Finn Partners,” he said.

Laura Shuey-Kostelac, BA ’14 and MA ’15, and Danielle Noel, BA’15 and MA ’17, are currently employed in the D.C. office after completing the Finn Partners Scholar program.

“My experience at SMPA was really a launching pad into my career in public affairs and strategic communication,” said Shuey-Kostelac. “I started here at Finn Partners as a Widmeyer Fellow, and then I was hired full time as an assistant account executive, then I became an account executive and now I am a senior account executive.”

Danielle Noel was hired as an account executive after completing her degree last year. “The Widmeyer Fellowship allowed me to bring the skills that I learned in SMPA courses such as Social Media and Crisis Communications and apply them to the daily tasks and assignments that I had as a fellow,” she said.

Katherine Jahries, a second-year graduate student is the current fellow in the Finn Partners Scholar program. “This experience has really widened my view of what it means to be a communications professional. It’s been a chance to work in a global PR firm and really see what that means and the different ways that you can have an impact,” said Jahries.

SMPA Director Frank Sesno says the partnership creates both an opportunity for the student and a pathway to a profession, connecting SMPA's academic programs and research to the real world. Fellows also bring dynamic experience, cutting-edge skills and diverse perspectives to the firm.

“We are really grateful to Widmeyer-Finn Partners and very gratified to see how well our students have done as they have both been scholars there and in many cases gone on to work there,” Sesno said.