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Miles Ritenour is also first-ever 'virtual intern' for Pittsburgh public relations agency

Advertising/public relations major Miles Ritenour received the Renaissance Scholar of the Year award from the PRSA Pittsburgh chapter, and is serving as a 'virtual intern' for WordWrite Communications. | Photo by Christopher Rolinson

As an advertising/public relations major at Point Park, senior Miles Ritenour has pursued all types of opportunities to get experience in his field as a student.

Now, that initiative and ambition is paying off in big ways, with Ritenour receiving a prestigious award and landing a cutting-edge internship with a local public relations agency.

Ritenour, a native of Latrobe, Pa., has been named the Renaissance Scholar of the Year by the Pittsburgh area chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, chosen among applicants from about 20 Western Pennsylvania colleges and universities. The award includes a $2,000 check.

In addition, he is the first-ever virtual intern at WordWrite Communications, one of the Pittsburgh area's fastest-growing PR agencies.

For the Renaissance Scholar award, Ritenour applied at the suggestion of Point Park Prof. Bob O'Gara, for whom the award is named. For his submission, Ritenour sent in two letters of recommendation and his transcript, wrote four essays and filled out a questionnaire.

"I think I have a really broad internship experience. I have everything from working with non-profit organizations, ad agencies and the City of Pittsburgh Ethics Board up to now working with a PR agency and the Penguins," Ritenour explained. "I have a pretty strong academic record and my GPA is good. My intern experience combined with my recommendations punched the ticket to win the award."

Advertising/public relations major Miles Ritenour with Amy Kowal, PRSA Pittsburgh chapter president, and Point Park Prof. Bob O'Gara. | Photo courtesy of PRSA PittsburghO'Gara describes Ritenour as "a bright, hard working young man who has taken every advantage of the Point Park University experience that we offer all students to excel in their chosen professions and serve our communities."

"Miles has taken leadership posts in student organizations, worked as an editor and writer for student media, volunteered and worked for local professional organizations and worked in university supervised internships that provide real-world professional experiences," O'Gara said. ""His leadership skills and intellectual advancement are well recognized with this award and he will continue to both enhance the Point Park University reputation and serve as a model for our dedication to the success of our students."

Ritenour applied for the WordWrite internship after meeting one of the agency's account executives, Deanna Ferrari, at a Public Relations Student Society of America event. As a virtual intern, Ritenour handles normal intern tasks but does so from outside the office using email, instant messaging and phone calls. He handles press releases, updates client Facebook and Twitter accounts, builds media lists and compiles editorial calendars.

In announcing the internship on the WordWrite Web site, agency president and CEO Paul Furiga described Ritenour as "ideal for this position."

"He not only has the passion and savvy for public relations, but also understands the new trends in social media," Furiga said. "That coupled with his drive for success makes him a perfect fit for the virtual internship."

Ritenour also works as a media relations intern with the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team, issuing media credentials, providing game statistics and sending out notices of press conferences.

Ritenour credits his success to Point Park faculty members, professionals who offered guidance during internships -- and his mother and father.

"My parents preached to me to work as hard as I can and take advantage of all opportunities," Ritenour said.

Article by Alisha Valeri
Top photo by Christopher Rolinson
Lower photo courtesy of the PRSA