By Therese Eley, Marketing Services
To the average PR professional, the word "spin" does not have a positive connotation. But Michelle Mitchell, a graduate of the Public Relations diploma program at Continuing Studies, is not your average PR professional. She loves to spin!
And knit. And quilt. And sew. And weave. Michelle was introduced to the textile arts at the age of 12, when her grandmother taught her to knit. Eventually that led to an interest in learning how to spin, and most recently she’s been learning how to weave.
"If I could recommend one thing I think everyone should try at least once, it would be to set up, or 'dress' a loom, just because it really tests your patience and your flexibility. Although I don't know if anyone would actually enjoy it," she laughs. As a working mother with a young daughter, she admits it can be challenging finding time to weave, "but my husband is really supportive, taking her out for the day so I can really get into it. I 'wear' my daughter a lot, so I’ve enjoyed making my own baby wraps to wear her in."
She finds that weaving, and other textile arts, are a good way for her to slow her mind after a busy day at work. She works as a communications officer for the Information and Privacy Commissioner, a job she loves and credits having gotten because of the PR program.
Originally from Vermont, Michelle moved to Victoria in 2008 with her husband. With a triple minor in Psychology, Political Science and Drama, a career in PR wasn’t really on her radar, but while working for a local non-profit organization doing administrative work, her boss noticed her natural talents and expanded her role, giving her a new title of Communications Coordinator.
"When I started there, I thought that I would be happy doing admin work for years and years, but the fact that he encouraged me to branch out into this, knowing that I most likely wouldn't be able to stay there, and that he actually changed my job title from Admin Coordinator to Communications Coordinator and sort of gave me that freedom, I don’t think I would have been able to get the job I’m at now. So I’m just really appreciative. A lot of bosses wouldn’t do that. And it turned my mind to what I actually wanted to be doing, what I was passionate about. Now I’m in a job where I am passionate about the subject matter, I’m passionate about the job I’m doing and I’m excited about work everyday. I love my job so much where I am and I don’t think I would have been there without the support of my former boss."
"I’m grateful to UVic for the program. I really think it’s helped further my career. I had really good experiences with the instructors. I’ve learned a lot. It’s accessible, people in my class were from all across Canada, and it didn’t break the bank so it was accessible that way too. I’m just so appreciative."