Learning the fine art of schmoozing

Eight courses! Eight weeks!

That is how long, or short, it takes to get an intensive public relations certificate (IPRC) offered by the centre for continuing education (CCE) at Concordia, but do not be fooled by the low number of courses, or the short span of time that it takes. The workload can be grueling, pressing and nerves are frazzled because the program is intensive.

Students from all over the world, some as far as China, Syria and the Ivory Coast, have come to study to help advance career opportunities, or just to enhance personal development.

Cynthia Nichols, owner of Real Art Gathering Strength Art Gallery in Montreal, is taking PRC to “Learn the art of the schmooze.”

“Selling art is not the issue for me,” says Nichols. “It’s the social content.”

Dealing with multi-cultural diversity is what attracted Nichols to IPRC. Nichols plans to take some time off and travel after the program is finished. “If I should see some art…oh well!” Although there is a lot of work, Nichols is enjoying her time studying, but looking forward to a well-deserved break.

Stephanie Duff has come to Montreal from Newfoundland to study in the IPRC program. “I am changing careers and wanted to find out more about public relations,” she says. Having an undergraduate degree in modern languages from Memorial University of Newfoundland, Duff wanted to continue her education in either marketing or public relations.

“I’ve always been interested in marketing and public relations. I wanted to take an intensive program so that I could find out if it is really what I am interested in before investing too much time into it. I did not want to get another degree just for the sake of getting a degree.”

The program is intensive, fast paced, and is over before you know it, but it does not lack in quality or what can be gained.

When students graduate they will have learned the skills to help a company or organization build and maintain a strong public image. Public relations activities include helping the public to understand the company and its products. Often, public relations are conducted through newspapers, television, magazines, etc, subjects that are included in the program.

“I think three months might have been better,” says Duff. “It’s a lot of work, but I am enjoying it.” Duff also has plans to take a certificate in marketing.

Eliana Castallenos from the Dominican Republic has been in Montreal since June 2002. Castallenos wanted to learn more about the field of public relations, a field that she has already been employed in.

“I’ve worked in the field, and wanted to expand my knowledge,” she says.

Castallenos has also completed two years of business administration from Concordia, as well as certificates in marketing, and electronic office systems technology. She also expects to complete another certificate in communications, also offered at CCE.

Professor Elaine Cohen has been teaching IPRC since it was first introduced about five years ago. Cohen contributes to newspapers and magazines in Montreal and Toronto, but spends most of her time teaching. “I think it is wonderful to meet people from different countries, walks of life and age groups,” says Cohen. “People learn to discipline themselves in an intensive program because they have such tight deadlines. Time management skills are often improved in a program like this. The outside world should take advantage of the people who have taken these courses.

These spirited students will be saying, for most, one final goodbye after an evening of dinner at the Trattoria Dai Baffoni restaurant, at 6859 St. Laurent St., and dancing at the Upper Club, at 3519 St. Laurent St.

You can find the centre for continuing education at La Tour du Faubourg at 1600 Saint-Catherine Street West, or telephone 848-3600, and you can visit the web site at http://carina.concordia.ca/conted.


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