Brian Price, PRSSA 2013-2014 National President
The dust has settled in the wake of the recent Public Relations Student Society of America’s 2013 National Conference in Philadelphia, which hosted more than 1,100 students. To say the conference schedule was action packed would not do our time in Philadelphia proper justice.
PRSSA’s National Conference is, quite simply, the place to be for students interested in a career as a communicator. The buzz created by students networking with peers and professionals, sharing advice, hustling to the next session (or for a quick Philly cheesesteak) all while surrounded by industry leaders like PRSA professions and session speakers is truly remarkable. The pace was as rapid as the chatter and the business cards were handed out faster than candy on Halloween. Through all of the breakout sessions, the keynotes, the note taking and Philadelphia adventuring, three things stood out to me as takeaways for all PRSSA members:
Trust in the value of peer-to-peer networking
Having a network of seasoned professionals certain has its advantages, but so do connections with those our own age. Today’s PRSSA members are the leaders of the future. With a wide network of soon-to-be entry-level communicators, you can see pay offs sooner rather than later with advice for a job/internship search, working a friend’s connection into something personally useful or even finding a roommate for post-grad life (who doesn’t love splitting the bills in half?). These are the seeds for long-term connections that can pay off years down the road … whether you’re looking to switch jobs or call in a major favor.
Put yourself in a position to succeed
Attending National Conference is a major step in this direction, but it’s not the only one. Those looking to get ahead should position themselves near leaders to observe and learn from others successes and mistakes. Apply what you enjoy and disapprove of to your own leadership and communication style. Also aim to recreate certain parts of what made National Conference successful. There are Regional Conferences in the spring, local PRSA chapter luncheons, local professionals to reach out to (or stretch national through the Champions for PRSSA) and plenty of other Chapter-specific opportunities.
There’s no point in having the coolest, largest stack of business cards if you let them sit in a drawer until graduation. Use newfound connections to ask questions about career sectors, their vision for the future of public relations, the landscape in specific cities, learn about common missteps and so much more. The list goes on and on … even getting a little help on your public relations homework! This industry is well-connected; you might be surprised to see who is friends with whom and what a mutual connection/mentor could do in terms of finding employment where you might least expect it.
A career in public relations awaits. Getting proactive about skill development and networking now can put anyone in a position to get hired when it’s time to make the transition from student to professional.
Brian Price, PRSSA 2013-2014 National President, is a second-year graduate student at Northern Michigan University and has been a PRSSA member since the fall of 2010. While in graduate school, he serves as a graduate assistant to NMU’s director of communications and is an adjunct instructor for a 100-level public address course.