This year will mark my fourth and final year as a member of UA PRSSA. This organization has been a part of my entire college experience, and being a member has awarded me with too many opportunities and memories to count.
I learned what public relations was at my first Chapter meeting. The first blog I ever wrote was for UA PRSSA. As a freshman, I was forced to face my fear of public speaking to address a room full of older and more accomplished students, to tell them why I was qualified to be their secretary (now VP of communications).
If you’re new to our Chapter, I’m speaking to you. I want you to know how to make your time here one of the most valuable experiences of your life. Because in an award-winning organization like this, surrounded by some of the best PR students and people in the world, it can and should be.
Take advantage of all opportunities
While this is the most obvious point, it is still crucial and deserves an explanation. There are so many opportunities for you to grasp in this organization. Apply to become a member of the executive board. Get a peer mentor. Join a committee. Write a blog. Volunteer with us.
You know all of those things you should be doing now so you can have experience for your upcoming internship/job search? They’re all available to you through UA PRSSA.
Get to know fellow members
These opportunities can build your portfolio, but what is even more valuable is getting to know people, and not just for networking purposes. I’m talking about getting to know your peers in this organization, the older members who seem more accomplished than you’ll ever be, as well as the members your age who will be there when you’ve reached your last year here. Take advantage of our events and volunteering opportunities to not only add something to your résumé, but to connect with others around you. By building relationships with those around you in any organization, you will soon find you’ve built a home for yourself.
Get to know speakers/industry professionals
Now it's time to get to the less sentimental/ambiguous, more technical advice. When there is a professional speaker at a meeting from an area you’re interested in, go up to shake their hand and thank them after they’re done. Introduce yourself, explain you’d love to talk to them about their career or the topic they spoke on, and ask for their email address. A day after the meeting, email them to thank them again and maybe ask a question. Boom... you now have a connection.
Go to national conference
Every October, PRSSA hosts its national conference.Last year’s conference was in Boston, and this year’s conference is in Austin, Texas. There’s absolutely no better way to do everything I’ve mentioned in this blog thus far. You’ll be getting opportunities galore, bonding with members like you never would otherwise, and getting to know so many professionals that the possibilities for your future will seem endless.
Above all else, what I take away from UA PRSSA the most is the growth I underwent throughout my time in the organization. My sophomore year, as the youngest member on the executive board (and the notetaker), I slept through a meeting. I accidentally sent emails before they were ready to go out. I made mistakes but was given the opportunity to learn from them. I grew as an individual, a writer, a designer and as a young professional. And I encourage every UA PRSSA member to do the same during their time here.
By Emily Hillhouse, VP of Promotions