Sophie van Kuppeveld, a Dutch native, is spending her fall semester at Purdue University Calumet, taking public relations courses for her last year as an undergraduate in communication and media studies.
Problems in PR is an experiential learning course required in the public relations program that gives students real world experience.
Since 1989, students of Problems in PR have been conducting communication audits for local and Chicagoland companies. The senior-level students structure themselves as a consulting firm and analyze the effectiveness of a company’s internal and external communications.
This year, the students have organized themselves as Red Brick Rhetoric. “It’s definitely a different approach, but in this situation, it could be very beneficial because you are less restrained by course guides, you mentor yourself and learn about what you’ve done,” van Kuppeveld said.
As a member of the RBR social committee, Van Kuppeveld organizes social events to help classmates get to know each other. She is the internal communications assistant, organizing feedback given to members of RBR during meetings. In addition, she is working on graphs that demonstrate the progress of the firm’s successes and pitfalls.
To find a client, RBR created a YouTube account in which van Kuppeveld spearheaded. The effort was successful, as RBR is now consulting for the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority.
From Erasmus University in Rotterdam, van Kuppeveld is still adjusting to the extreme dynamics of the class. She said her program of study in the Netherlands is practical, but focused on research.
She admits that she is stepping out of her comfort zone and the class notices. She is learning that the course has rigorous deadlines and the students become co-dependent as they begin to be more involved with each other.
She was surprised with how the students had to structure themselves on their own, since Van Kuppeveld is accustomed to lectures and tests.
Van Kuppeveld said in her experience thus far, she has learned to be a more patient person. When the semester concludes, van Kuppeveld leaves for San Francisco and will continue traveling until January. Once back in the Netherlands, she will be working towards a master’s in cultural entrepreneurship in economics or media broadcast.
Visit members of RBR at redbrickrhetoric.com.