Every so often, we’ll be spotlighting alumni and what they are up to these days. These Q&A sessions will give you a bit of insight into where the world has taken them since graduation.

This week, the spotlight is on Brittney Hefner (BA/PRA ’09), Senior Account Supervisor at Edelman for Xbox.

DODGE: Share your career path with us – how did you get where you are now?

BRITTNEY: Once I graduated, I started working immediately at an advertising agency in Orange County and at the same time, I went to USC to get my master’s in strategic public relations. During one of the lectures, I met a VP at Edelman and he left his business cards on the desk after his talk. I’m really glad I got in touch with him so quickly after his presentation because Edelman was actively interviewing for entry level positions and he put my resume through to HR. It was a long interview process but I landed on the Xbox team as an AAE and haven’t left since!

On the Xbox team, I now lead the hardware and console business and manage industry events like E3, gamescom and ChinaJoy. I also oversee the editorial calendar for our news channel, Xbox Wire – check it out! As Global Client Knowledge Manager for Microsoft, I work with our global account head and regional leads to connect local markets and ensure seamless program execution across borders.

DODGE: Did you face any challenges in your transition from being a student at Dodge to entering the professional world?

BRITTNEY: When I graduated from college, the economy was tough and jobs were scarce. It’s what prompted me to go straight into graduate school. I also took a job at a small advertising agency even though I knew my future was in public relations so I was working hard every day looking for the right opportunity to get into PR.

DODGE: What have you taken from the classroom and applied to your career?

BRITTNEY: You learn a ton of strategy and plan creation in the classroom and you don’t always get to apply that right out of the gate in entry level positions, particularly at an agency. I found that to be particularly disappointing when I first started. But the attention to the detail, the schedule management and absolutely the writing classes – those are all critical – and I quickly realized that it’s those foundational skills that are what really move you forward in your career.

DODGE: What skills do you believe have been essential in your career?

BRITTNEY: Although the bread and butter of public relations is truly media relations, I would argue that strong account management is even more important. Working with clients, managing deadlines, peer-to-peer interactions and attention to detail, those are all things that can cross over to other accounts and are what have been my most valuable assets.

DODGE: What is the best advice you have received and/or what advice would you give current students?

BRITTNEY: Just start working. I think there is a lot of emphasis right now on graduate degrees, but experience is so much more important, especially in a field like public relations. Coming from someone who has a master’s degree, I wish I would have waited and gotten a little more experience under my belt. The higher degree wasn’t critical to getting my dream job and I think waiting would have allowed me to determine my path and maybe make a different decision on what degree to get down the road.

Thanks so much for sharing, Brittney!