Young Alum of the Month: Melissa (Nasers) Norby

Melissa (Nasers) Norby
Title and Company: 
Senior Account Executive on DuPont Pioneer account at Ogilvy Public Relations in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Sibley, Iowa
Major and Graduation Date: 
B.S. Agricultural Communications & International Agriculture; M.S. Agricultural Education, 2007 and 2009
Major Job/Position Responsibilities: 

First, it is probably important to define public relations. According to PRSA, public relations is “…a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” More simply put, my job is to create a positive relationship between Pioneer and their customers through outreach events, media efforts and other creative forms of communication.

Every day in a public relations agency varies, which is part of the reason that I love my job.  My primary role is to help manage and execute strategic public relations programs for DuPont Pioneer.  On a day-to-day basis, that means coordinating events, drafting a wide range of written materials, and maintaining client and media contact.  When I get to work each day, my email inbox dictates the direction for the day along with my continuous to-do list.

What you like most about your job/position: 

he thing that I like most about my job is the opportunity to bring my passion for agriculture together with my interest in communications to create a unique public relations campaign for the Pioneer account.  I enjoy not only learning from everyone at Pioneer but also my agency colleagues.  The agency lifestyle is very fast-paced and creative. There are plenty of learning opportunities and challenges to push you forward and further develop your skills.

I was not familiar with agencies when I graduated from Iowa State.  I like to encourage students interested in communications to consider an agency as a first career out of college—you will learn a lot and make excellent connections!  Plus, there are plenty of agencies with agricultural clients that would LOVE to tap into your agricultural expertise!

What advice would you give to current students: 
  • Study abroad: CALS has so many unique study abroad opportunities available. Take advantage of them!  While I was at Iowa State, I traveled to China (twice!), Uganda, Taiwan, and Australia. These experiences stood out on my resume and made for an easy ice breaker when going into interviews—who doesn’t want to talk about their international experiences?
  • Internships, internships, internships:  I wish I could go back to school for the opportunity to have more internships.  Being able to try out a job or company for three months is a great opportunity!  It can help you determine your career path and sets you up for when you graduate.  Employers want to see two or three internships on your resume when you graduate. Take advantage of the great connections at Iowa State.
  • Networking: Be sure to maintain the connections you make while at Iowa State (consider using LinkedIn!).  While you are in school or after you graduate, don’t be afraid to reach out to alums that are working in the field you want to be in.  As a passionate Cyclone, I love helping other Cyclones find internships or career opportunities.

Favorite ISU class?

AgEds  451 Agricultural Law and CDEV 503 Community Development

Both courses were challenging but well worth the extra effort needed. They challenged me to think differently and broadened my perspective of the world around me.  I will likely return to a rural farming community in Iowa someday so both topics were extremely relevant—whether it is the background in agricultural law to help with the family farming operation or the principles of community development to give back to the community I live in. I would highly recommend either class to any student at Iowa State.