Attending the Public Relations Student Society of America National Conference is easily one of the best experiences in my entire college career. Spending five days in Washington, D.C. with the organization I love so much filled me with so much inspiration, gave me the opportunity to network with others in public relations, and gave me guidance that I can use back home. My only regret is that I didn’t go last year.
The PR industry is very small, so networking is crucial. I had the opportunity to meet not only industry professionals but also the future of the industry, fellow PRSSA members. Even though there are literally thousands of professionals in the field, it seems everyone is only a few degrees of separation away. One person you know can connect you to people all over the country. Professionals who facilitated workshops left time after their talks to network with aspiring pros like myself. I especially enjoyed speaking with a White House Correspondent for Reuters and the challenges of political reporting. Networking with professionals is important, but it is also important to familiarize myself with fellow students, since we will one day work in this field!
Even though National Conference was only five days, the wisdom and inspiration I took from the trip will last forever. Particularly, Fred Cook, CEO of Golin, gave a talk about how any experience you have can help you succeed, and that school is not the only way to a sure-fire career. His enthusiasm was contagious, and I felt an increased drive to do well in school and in my extracurricular activities.
As the Publicity Director of CSUF’s PRSSA chapter, I got to meet other PR directors from chapters across the country. We discussed problems our chapters face and how we can solve them together. I enjoyed seeing how other chapters operated their organizations and how we could improve our own. Plus, I just made PRSSA friends from out-of-state. How cool is that? It’s nice to know that even though our chapters are miles apart, we all face similar struggles and triumphs.
After the conference sessions, our chapter members bonded while sightseeing after hours, going out to dinner, and sitting next to each other for two five-hour flights. Nothing brings people together like traveling does. I found the time to visit the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, which is something I had been wanting to do my entire life. With my friends, we actually got to see the historical documents our country was founded on at the National Archives. Along the way, we had a lot of laughs!
National Conference brings you closer to students at your school, as well as students and professionals from all across the country. I would recommend all public relations students to go at least once—especially seniors! I am more than happy to share my experience with other communications students and those who aren’t sure if they would like to attend.