Tyler Whitfield joined Susan Davis International (SDI) as an intern in June 2024 after completing his freshman year at Elon University, where he is studying strategic communications. Tyler’s interest in public relations led him to pursue an internship with SDI as an opportunity to learn more about the industry and the broader field of communications.

Born and raised in Northern Virginia, Tyler has been immersed in communications and the humanities since childhood. He has always had a passion for reading and writing, and he fell in love with literature at a young age. He created and produced multiple podcasts as a high school student, while also contributing to his school’s broadcast journalism department.

Showing great aptitude and media sensibilities, Tyler is already providing valuable support for high- profile SDI clients, such as the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, working on its 2024 Caregiver Fellows initiative as well as the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation’s preparation for the Marines’ 250th anniversary celebration in 2025.

Here’s more about Tyler:

What drove your interest in public relations?

I’ve always had a love for writing. Whether journaling, creative writing, or strategic writing, I just love the feeling of putting pen to paper. After starting college, I began to look for ways to take my love of writing into the professional realm and find a career that incorporates my skills.

I tried journalism but just didn’t find the connection to it that I was looking for, so I started to explore the other side of the industry: strategic communications. Though I’ve just started in the industry, I’ve already felt a strong connection to public relations, especially to research and writing. I’ve found that I enjoy the work and, if I can say so myself, have a knack for it too.

What’s the best book you’ve read in the past year, and why?

I’ve always loved to read and have jumped between different genres of written work, usually reading whatever aligns with my interests at the time. For example, I’ve recently been studying philosophy, so much of what I read is philosophical works.

Out of what I’ve read recently, my favorite is René Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy. Meditations is a work of religious philosophy in which Descartes breaks unspecific, non-denomination religion down to its core elements of the provable and the unprovable. His work, compared to most other philosophers, is pretty easy to digest and while I disagree with some of his arguments, he’s consistent in his beliefs and has an admirable willingness to be proven wrong.

Who inspires you (and why)?

The biggest inspiration in my life is my family. Both my parents work tirelessly to give me and my brother a life that we far too often take for granted, and they’ve shown me the value of putting 110% into everything that I do.

My brother has shown me how to have fun in life, while still putting the most important things first. My aunts and uncles have shown me that life may throw you into difficult situations, but that love, family, and laughter are always going to be there, even in the darkest hour. And my grandparents have shown me that the value of a life isn’t where you begin, but instead what you choose to do with it. Through my family, I’ve learned countless lessons that inspire me every day of my life to strive for excellence and be the best possible version of myself.

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

While not exactly advice, I do have a quote that I try to live by every day. When I was a kid, my dad introduced me to the comic strip, “Calvin and Hobbes.” If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a comic strip featuring a little boy, Calvin, and his imaginary best friend, his stuffed tiger named Hobbes. The series is mainly comedic, but there’s also a lot of life advice and philosophical thought tied into it. I really latched onto the series at a young age and still read it now and again.

The quote that stands out to me is one from Calvin where, after returning home from playing outside, he says, “If your knees aren’t green by the end of the day you ought to seriously re-examine your life.”

The way that I look at this quote now is that every day should be something fun and exciting. Whether it’s the best day of your life or the worst, take a moment to do something that brings you genuine joy – something that leaves your knees green.

How do you get your news and stay informed?

As I think most people would agree, especially those in the communications field, mainstream news is extremely polarized. That’s why I’ve started to get my news from an app that pulls articles from major news sources and compares the content to find and point out biases that may exist in breaking news coverage. I’ve found it to be a great tool for staying informed, while also being able to explore all the different sides of an issue. I also find some news on social media, since that’s simply unavoidable, but I always take it with a grain of salt and often do some research of my own.

What is it about your work for SDI that you find most inspiring/motivating/ rewarding?

I’ve known from a young age that no matter what career path I end up going into, I want to do work that leaves the world better than it was when I came into it. My biggest concern going into the corporate world was that I may be pressured to abandon those values. Interning at SDI and learning about their history with the military, memorials, and museums, and the positive work they’re doing for all their clients assures me that we are helping to better our world.