Caitlin Heelen joined Susan Davis International (SDI) as an intern in June 2022. A senior at American University, she is majoring in Communications, Legal Institutions, Economics, and Government and minoring in Finance and French.

She is the Vice President of Communications and Membership for Revolution, AU’s Fashion Society. Caitlin is responsible for running Revolution’s social media accounts and aiding in organizing events on and off campus. During her spring semester in 2022, Caitlin studied abroad in Paris where she took courses taught in French, explored France, and visited seven other countries. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends, thrift shopping, and traveling.

Caitlin’s first major event with SDI was at the Joint Women’s Leadership Symposium in July, a multi-day event with over 1,000 military women attendees. It was a great opportunity to understand high profile special events: the preparation, execution, and post-event analysis – as well as how to react to the unexpected.

While setting up for the event, the venue was struck by lightning causing power outages throughout the building. Thankfully, no one was harmed. Yet after that, a fellow SDI intern visiting from Ireland caught COVID. Despite the hectic start, the SDI and JWLS teams both recovered gracefully, and the event was a huge success.

Here’s more about Caitlin:

How do you get your news and stay informed?

During the 2020 quarantine period, I started to listen to podcasts (The Daily by the New York Times, Up First by NPR News, and Today Explained by Vox) to get my news. There was a lot of new information every day about the pandemic and these podcasts were a way to stay up to date without being overwhelmed by the slew of information available on the internet. Now it is a part of my routine walking to campus or taking the metro to the office!

What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve ever received?

Last year in my Congress and Legislative Behavior course, our professor invited one of her former students to describe his post-graduate experience working as a lobbyist. At the end of his presentation, he encouraged us to apply for jobs even if we were underqualified, as that’s how he got started in his position.

My professor addressed the gender trend when it comes to the application process: that women tend to apply for positions when they meet every qualification listed, whereas men tend to apply even if they don’t fit the candidate description exactly. It was an encouraging reminder to not sell yourself short and to go after opportunities you feel passionate about.

What drove your interest in public relations?

It’s exciting to be able to work with a variety of clients on a range of projects. It provides an opportunity to learn about different styles of communication and techniques used depending on the industry.

What is your opinion on social media? Good or bad for society?

I always go back and forth about my opinions on this. I have learned a lot from social media. It is a wonderful tool to connect with people and hear stories that you would have never heard otherwise. It is a way to stay in touch with friends and family or it can be a way to stay informed and up to date.

Although social media has a plethora of positive attributes, ultimately it can still be used to facilitate hateful content that can be extremely harmful especially to children and young teenagers.

What is your favorite place to visit, and why?

I did not want to leave Paris when the spring semester was over. It was never boring as the city and people had so much to offer. I would pass the Garden of Luxemburg walking to campus and would metro to Montmartre around sunset to watch street performers and look at the paintings that artists had out in the square. Paris is a truly beautiful city that I’d recommend anyone to go see at least once in their lifetime.