Andy Hetzel has served as the executive in charge of communications for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan since 2005. He has prior agency experience as well as public affairs experience in the Michigan House of Representatives. Andy received his Bachelor’s degree in newspaper journalism and international relations from Syracuse University and is accredited in public relations.
PRSSA: What are the benefits of working in or close to government as a young professional?
AH: Working in government or politics requires a great deal of energy, and young people have that in abundance. The jobs are there, if you are smart and dedicated to working hard. Government or political experience gives you a stronger worldview, in that you are exposed to the diversity of our state and nation, including cultural and regional differences. You’re also exposed to differences in how people approach solving problems. In this type of diverse and dynamic environment, if you spend your time listening and absorbing what happens around you, you will become a stronger professional and may learn a thing or two about yourself as well. It helps you understand public issues and how to advocate successfully for them. You need to be able to grasp complexity, break issues down to understand the constituencies involved and their vested interests, and how to build coalitions to gain critical mass to get anything done. Being involved in politics as a young person gives you significant insight and experience that can equip you for future success as your career moves forward.
PRSSA: Did you always know that you wanted to work in public relations?
AH: I always wanted to find a career where I could leverage my strengths, impact people in a positive way and be happy with coming into work every day. I love what I do and I’ve enjoyed every step of my journey so far. I hope it continues for a long while, because I don’t plan to quit pursuing those goals anytime soon.
PRSSA: Healthcare is an in-demand field for public relations. Should students be doing specific things if they want to go into this industry?
AH: Learn how to write well. Pursue internships in the field. Do good work to deliver value to the organization that provides you the internship opportunity. All of these things will result in solid references that lead to good career opportunities – in healthcare or any other field of interest.
PRSSA: You are on the Board of Directors for two organizations. What does this bring to your career, what is your role on the board, and how does it translate to staying involved in the community as a professional?
AH: I sit on two boards – an organization that serves young people and another that provides services to seniors. I feel like my service on these boards is an opportunity to contribute to a better future for the kids, and also to honor those who have contributed so much to build the society we live in today. My wife is president of a nonprofit that serves victims of domestic and sexual violence, and we contribute time as a family to that organization, too. Board service is a wonderful way to give back, and I encourage people to find nonprofits that align with their personal values and support them in whatever way possible.
PRSSA: Anything else?
AH: Yes. Don’t be in such a hurry. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Take your time with your career. Learn from your successes and failures. Strengthen yourself each day. Take time to enjoy the journey. Down the road, you’ll find yourself better prepared to finish the race if you do.
Andy’s breakout session will cover healthcare public relations and its relation to government regulations. Until then, follow him on Twitter!