Q&A with Cecilia Morales,
V2 Communications
Once a month, Steppingstone Alumni/ Board Members will share insights on their career journey and provide career tips and guidance for Steppingstone Scholars. For this month, Scholars will get a chance to learn more about Cecilia's journey working in the field of public relations and digital communications.
Q: Tell us about yourself! Where are you from? What were your post-graduate high school plans?
My name is Cecilia, Steppingstone class of ’08, and I’m originally from East Boston. I went to Phillips Academy in Andover for high school, and then I attended Emerson College where I studied journalism. My preferred pronouns are she and her.
Q: What has the journey to your current role been like for you?
I worked in print journalism for three years after college. As much as I loved to write, interview subjects, and craft stories, I wanted more creative control over my writing, and a job that was more stable with a work-life balance. I decided to take a receptionist role at a public relations agency while I was still freelance writing and doing photography on the side. To my pleasant surprise, throughout the pandemic and on, my role and responsibilities at the company grew and I was eventually promoted to operations specialist. It was an unexpected turn in my career, but I have been able to gain professional experience in a lot of different things.
Q: If your plans after graduating high school involved pursuing a college degree, how did your experience or studies while in school prepare you for the roles you have been in and/or are currently in?
My major in college was journalism, which very much prepared me for the reporter job I took after graduating. I knew what to expect when writing a story, editing the copy, and even writing headlines. Studying journalism also encouraged me to come out of my shell more, as assignments often required us to approach total strangers for interviews or quotes.

For the office administration role I’m in now, I could have had any type of undergraduate
degree. But being exposed to the world of media in college, helped me understand the type of work that goes on in a public relations agency. Plus, writing and communicating effectively, the main goal of a journalism student, is a crucial skill to have in any industry.

a. Follow-up: Did your declared major limit you to a certain career path?

I believe a journalism major can apply to many career paths except for other
specialized careers in science, engineering, or medicine. But journalism majors
can easily pivot to any careers in media, marketing, or education. Some go on to
pursue a law degree after stepping their toes in that world.
Q: What do you enjoy most about your current position?
I enjoy the direct impact I have on employees’ experience with the firm, the responsibilities given to me in managing major tasks, and the exposure I’ve received to finance and accounting. But most of all, it’s given me an in-depth look into the work involved in running a business operationally and administratively.
Q: What tips might you have for Scholars hoping to pursue a similar career path that you’ve taken?
Even though I didn’t stick with journalism, I do think it’s an incredibly important industry to
maintain in a democratic society. And if a scholar wants to seriously pursue it, I would advise them to go for it at full force. I would also tell them to not despair if they get many rejections at first. In addition, don’t be afraid to be a self-starter; if you like to write, start a blog or submit your writing to different publications. If you want to write a specific story, pitch it to an editor. You’d be surprised at what doors might open if you take some nontraditional routes.
Q: What tips might you have for Scholars looking to strengthen their resume-building or interview skills?
Have other people look at your resume, like your friends and family. Make sure it’s clear,
concise, and easy to read. On average, recruiters only look at resumes for less than 10
seconds so make you’re including the most important things about your experience and

As for strengthening interview skills: practice, practice, practice. Research common
interview questions and prepare what you would say. Run mock interviews with
someone else so you’re confident in what you’re saying and how you say it. Practice in
front of the mirror if you need to. Get comfortable talking yourself up and why you’d be a
good fit for a particular job.
Q: Networking can be hard…how do you recommend Scholars connect with others in the fields they’re interested in and strengthen their relationship-building skills?
LinkedIn is a great tool! Make sure your profile shows all of your work experience and
accomplishments. Interact with others on the platform, join groups, and share relevant posts in your industry. Make sure you have a professional photo that clearly shows your face. Approach in-person networking as simply a conversation to get to know the other person. If you approach it in a transactional way, that could be off-putting to the other person. If the conversation flows naturally, it’s more likely to lead to a real connection.
Q: What are some questions to ask of your future employers?
 What types of skills is the team missing that you’re looking to fill with a new hire?
 How would you describe the company’s values and mission?
 What are some of the challenges a person in this position most likely face?
Q: What advice would you give to Scholars hoping to strengthen their negotiation skills?
Do your research on what the typical pay for the role is so you know what appropriate range to be negotiating for. Negotiate by talking about how much value you bring to the company either by listing specific goals accomplished, metrics met, and successful projects completed.

a. Is there anything you recommend Scholars not do when negotiating with others? (i.e.,
when negotiating for a later start date, higher salary, etc.)

I would wait until the employer starts the conversation about salary and benefits, before
bringing it up yourself. Hopefully, by then, you would have won them over and you’re in a
better position to negotiate a higher salary or more benefits. Recruiters are attracted to
candidates that ultimately care about the job, not just about the compensation – although
that is very important too.
If you want to connect with Cecilia to learn more about her experiences or for more advice, feel free to reach out to Thai Luong at [email protected].