A Hand Up to the Underprivileged: Alumna Milena Rivolova
Born in the USA of Swiss and Czech parents, Milena Rivolova grew up in Prague, Czech Republic. A Communications graduate, Milena now lives in London, where she works as Strategy Development Executive for the PR agency PRCO. She is also a travel enthusiast who will soon visit South Africa. In preparation for her trip, Milena is running a fundraiser on behalf of the charitable organization Hope Link.
How’s life after graduation? How’s living in London?
Life after graduation is bittersweet. I am grateful that I found a great job and am fully independent once again – but I miss the flexibility of student life. Living in London is hectic! London is an extremely busy city, the morning rush is absurd, but on the other hand there is so much to do in London in my free time, it’s difficult to get bored. I’ve finally been able to pursue my hobby, aerial hoop and silk regularly, because they have it everywhere!
How did you start working in PR?
My title is Strategy Development Executive, so I create PR/marketing proposals and do consultancy on strategy, which includes identifying strengths and weaknesses of travel and lifestyle brands that seek PR. I get to work closely with the Chairman of PRCO, with team members from all the 6 global offices, and with interesting clients from all over the world. The company’s network features brands such as Versace, Four Seasons Hotels, and a number of bespoke boutique hotels.
I didn’t really expect to work in PR. Before this I had worked at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which was completely different, but I just tried to follow what I know I’m passionate about and enjoy: traveling. A travel PR agency made the most sense.
Tell us about your fundraising project.
In April I will be traveling to South Africa. As a part of my trip I will be volunteering for Hope Link, working with children from underprivileged educational backgrounds. I’m hoping to raise some money to improve the current learning space and provide instructional materials in order to expand students’ learning opportunities.
Tell us about Hope Link.
Hope Link is a small organization, in a township called Philippi, outside of Cape Town. I came across the opportunity to volunteer for Hope Link through a friend of mine who works there. Hope Link offers an educational program for children who either can’t afford school, or whose families do not value education. The program includes teaching basic skills such as reading and writing, but also engages children in practical work, for example cooking and gardening. I know that Hope Link puts their heart and soul into making a difference, and I look forward to being part of it.
Is there any class at JCU that helped you in your career? What are your career plans?
There are so many professors and classes that helped me and made a difference in my learning that it would be difficult to list them all here. If I had to choose which classes most aided in my career it would have to be Pica’s Social Networks and Media Management class as well as Professor Schmidt’s Graphic Design classes. These two classes together taught me how important branding and marketing strategy are today. The logo, website, and social media presence of any brand or even a person’s personal profile are key in the professional sphere.
In terms of career, I hope to go on to do a Master’s degree in graphic design/branding. At the same time, I want to continue doing volunteer work. Since I am so fortunate, I think it is important to share my experience and knowledge with others.
Any advice for a new student starting college?
When starting college, I think it’s important to remember that this is a big experimental phase. The degree you have chosen might not suit you best, and it’s okay to change direction. JCU has a closely-knit community and passionate professors, so take advantage of this. Find yourself a professor to be your mentor, someone you look up to, learn from, and can ask questions to. Also, look outside the JCU community. There are so many things you can get involved in: an internship, a sports club, volunteering. Travel – this is where you learn, open your mind, and gain invaluable lessons.
Anything you’d like to add?
Cherish your time in Rome and at JCU, it goes so fast. Get out of Trastevere, see different parts of Rome, make friends and always be open minded, things never work out the way you originally picture them. Embrace the challenges and surprises!