Beyond the Classroom: PR/Advertising Double Major Steven Saxon on How Volunteerism Ties into His Major

Steven poses outside by the Rec Center at Rowan.

Today we speak to senior Public Relations and Advertising double major and avid volunteer Steven Saxon. Steven is living off-campus in Glassboro, but he is from Haworth, NJ (Bergen County). 

Steven poses in front of the Rowan Prof Owl statue.

What got you interested in your intended field?

As a kid, both my parents were involved in business, particularly public relations. My dad was a PR representative, and my mom was an account manager. I saw that both of my parents dealt with people for their job, a lot. There was a lot of person-to-person interaction, not a lot of sitting behind a desk, and, more specifically, when you have interactions like that in the working world, it opens up a lot more opportunities than behind a desk.

I believe that the most praise you can get for doing desk work is doing an outstanding job. When you’re talking to someone, there’s so many different ways and things that can open up in a conversation that just help you, benefit you, or interest you, that don’t even relate to business. I want to do exactly what my dad does.

How did you get into volunteering?

Every single person, if you are given free time, you have to stay productive. It’s just kind of innate as humans. You can’t wake up every day and sit in your living room and look for a new TV show or just scroll through social media. It’ll bring you into a hole, and then by the time it’s time to be productive again whether you got your job or school, it becomes three times as hard now that you’re so used to doing nothing.

During school … I’m the Vice President of Public Relations for Sigma Alpha Lambda, which is the Leadership Honor Society. I’m in the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). I’m very involved at school when it is in session. So when it’s not in session, I know sometimes people look for a job, but I’m not looking at the money at the moment; I’m looking to build my resume my connections, things like that. I could get a job and I have in the past for like three months over a break. But I think there are a lot more substantial things I could do than make some money over there because I mean money’s not really a huge issue for me right now, as long as I focus on my academics. 

Steven poses outside at Rowan.

How does your volunteer work tie in with your majors?

Volunteer work ties in with my majors for multiple reasons. First, by getting to meet these people and beginning the volunteer process, I get to know them and establish a relationship with them. After that, I can talk to them in the future and maybe get a recommendation, a new volunteering opportunity or job offers from them. Also, my major has helped me because I know that communication and public relations is key. For my current volunteer position at The Kitchen of Hope, I was applying and I was told that people call to see if they can volunteer there all the time, and I think that my knowledge of communication helped me get the position, and she didn’t even know too much about me. I’m sure she got an a three-minute phone call with everyone else, I got a five-minute phone call with her, and I finally landed the volunteer opportunity. 

How did you find these volunteer opportunities?

For my volunteer position when I worked with Veterans of Foreign Wars, I looked up “social service,” and that is what led me to them. I also volunteered with Claws, a cat adoption and rescue center, and I got that opportunity by calling them. I was told to email them, so I communicated with them through email. I made sure to present myself as someone who loves animals. I secured my current position at Kitchen of Hope by talking with the people that work there for a few weeks. 

Steven poses on a bench.

What has been the most meaningful experience that you’ve had while volunteering?

While I was volunteering with Veterans of Foreign Wars, I was assigned different veterans to work with and help them with their duties. The veterans ran a restaurant and worked in an office. One of the guys I was assigned to was Sherman. Sherman was a quiet guy. I like to talk when things get awkward, and I talked to Sherman often. He loved it when I came in to volunteer, and I noticed that he became more comfortable with me. He went from mumbling orders at me to telling me stories about his time in the military.

What knowledge or skills have you developed through this opportunity that you will take with you for future endeavors?

I have learned to be more tolerant. I have also been exposed to different types of people and I met a lot of people I would not have met otherwise.

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Story by:
Rachel Rumsby, sophomore communication studies and public relations double major

Photos by:
Stephanie Batista, sophomore music industry major

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