My first time attending a PRSSA Regional Conference
Last month, I attended the PRSSA Regional Conference at Boston University with the URI PRSSA Chapter. This year’s theme focused on “Finding Your Voice” and featured keynote speakers from companies like Facebook, IBM, Ogilvy and Ketchum.
First, if you’re not already familiar, the Public Relations Student Society of America is the pre-professional-student-version of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). Both organizations were established to help promote professional growth and provide networking opportunities for individuals in the PR field.
I joined PRSSA my last semester of college to network with other PR students and allow myself a fluid transition into the working world. It’s always been one of my goals to remain involved, but with various jobs, internships and a volunteer position – it’s been a struggle to make time. It’s a great feeling to be surrounded by like-minded PR nerds, who get just as excited about finding a pitch opportunity as I do.
The conference was an eye-opening experience that further solidified my passion for public relations, and I encourage everyone reading this to try and attend one next year! I identified three main themes of the conference after hearing all the keynote presentations:
1. Know yourself, be yourself
Cliché? Maybe. However, being yourself is the most valuable skill you can bring to any position in any organization. If you pour energy into being someone you’re not, it takes valuable time away from learning and growing in your career. As Anthony Harrison, director of corporate media relations at Facebook, said, “bring professional you and home you together.” It is possible to present yourself professionally without losing the fun parts of your personality, but it takes time and experience to find that balance.
2. Feedback: give it, get it, use it
Many professionals stressed the importance of soliciting feedback from coworkers and bosses. Getting feedback is especially important in a first job out of college and the first few years may feel like an extension of school. It’s a time where you navigate and adjust to the “real” world as an adult and you will make mistakes.
While making a mistake may feel discouraging, it’s actually a great opportunity for growth. So, go ahead and ask your colleagues for feedback on a project or assignment. Ask for a performance review and take those suggestions and put them into goals and expectations for the next week, month, or year. It’s also important for employees to offer feedback to members of their organization because if they’re not succeeding, then the organization won’t either.
3. There is no defined path in PR
Many of us have immersed ourselves in the world of PR because we enjoy the endless options for movement and growth it provides. Whether you’re interested in tech, healthcare, food, fashion or whatever else – there’s a place for you somewhere. It’s also important to be mindful of your interests because if you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, it will show through your work. Personally, I think my varied interests will provide me with great flexibility on my professional journey and I know that, if I find myself in a place where my passion is fleeting, it’s likely time to move on to the next chapter.
Prior to the conference, I was feeling stressed and anxious about finding a career after college. I was too focused on finding the absolute perfect fit when that’s highly unlikely in a first job. Building a career takes a lot of trial and error – trying different roles with a variety of focuses and likely changing industries. Attending this conference relieved many of my worries and reminded me that all these prestigious companies are comprised of people who were once in the exact same position as I was.
So, if you’re someone in my position or younger, just remember that you will get there. You will find a job. You will find your place. For those of you reading this that are already professionals in your organization, I encourage you to go be a mentor for someone else and tell them to join organizations like PRSSA. I’m a proud member of the URI PRSSA chapter and I look forward to becoming a member of PRSA in the future!
Follow my undefined career path on Twitter @rhiannonhwilson