Alum Spotlight: Desirae Stevens, Jolson Creative PR

Ever wonder what big things JMU students go on to do after graduation?
      Desirae Stevens, a May 2012 SMAD graduate from JMU is a prime example of how Dukes can do big things, and in no time at all. This past August, Desirae jump started her career by making a bold transition, and moving to Los Angeles to work for an entertainment public relations firm. Post-grad, Desirae knew she wanted to work in entertainment PR, but originally was considering only New York City as her destination for a career. When the move to NYC seemed like it was going to fall through, Desirae took a chance and applied to a couple of jobs in California. After a bit of email correspondence and phone interviews, she was offered a position as a Publicity Assistant at Jolson Creative PR in LA, and was given only a few days to make a decision. Says Stevens, “I am so happy that I didn’t have a lot of time to think about it because I don’t know if I would have been able to go through with it”.
Photo courtesy of Julie Himmel

      Desirae’s quick choice to move out west ended up being the right one, allowing her to do what she loves on a daily basis. She notes, “My favorite part of my job is certainly producing events and then tracking that coverage. Right now one of our big projects is the newly discovered Leonardo da Vinci “Horse and Rider” sculpture. It premiered in Beverly Hills in August at this gorgeous event at Greystone Mansion. The next day it was front-page news on Yahoo! and it was picked up by CNN and BBC- you just can’t beat that kind of excitement when you see YOUR story on such highly regarded websites. Seeing a celebrity or two in the process doesn’t hurt either!” Desirae’s daily work tasks vary, however she is regularly building contact lists, writing pitches, finding coverage sources, and producing events.

      In hindsight, Desirae is grateful for the education she received at JMU- particularly the skills she gained through the SMAD program. “I think our SMAD program does an excellent job in preparing you for a variety of media fields. I have learned so many skills that I have used every day, which surprised me because I majored in journalism, not PR. I use social media daily to promote clients and various projects and I learned a lot about that in SMAD 470 and 322.”
      For JMU students preparing to enter the real world, Desirae has some valuable advice from her experiences: “Don’t be afraid to take a chance. Whether it’s moving some place new or applying for a job you think you have no chance of landing, you will probably end up surprising yourself, in a good way, and you will be much happier.”

For more information and updates on Desirae’s career, follow her on Twitter (@desirae_vivian or @JolsonCreative) or LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com/in/desiraevivian).

By Kelly Gooch
contact goochke@jmu.edu

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