Hey you!

Yeah you! I have a story to tell,

This year was the first of four that I did not either apply to or run for a leadership position in our PRSSA chapter; the feeling was both exhilarating and depressing at the same time.

Freshman year, little ole me had no idea what PR was or how to do it, but I knew I needed to get involved. My solution was to join the student-run PR firm that our PRSSA chapter had, Inspire Public Relations, as an account representative for Polar Plunge. I sat through meetings where what seemed like little to nothing happened. At the end of the year, I dressed up in 80’s style clothing and ran into the freezing-cold Coralville reservoir to raise $300 for Special Olympics.

After that experience, I knew I needed more. So, I applied to be an account executive, and I scored the gig for a federally funded grant account. I spent my sophomore year running focus groups, writing reports, and sitting in on board meetings. It was definitely an experience, but I still needed more.

At the end of the year, I walked into my first PRSSA meeting of the semester because class got out early; it was election day, and there was an open co-director position for Inspire. I improvised my way through my speech, laying it out much like I am right now, and talking about the amazing things I would do if I were director: increase communication between teams, include workshops, and increase the client list.

I got the spot by default, but I still like to think the speech helped.

That next year, I explained my experience at the beginning as “diving head first into an empty pool and still drowning.” It felt like there was so much to do and so little time. We managed to increase our client list, our members list, add leadership positions, begin national affiliation applications, and start workshops and team building activities. It was fan-freaking-tastic. Then, my co-director left me to study abroad in Italy.

I was on my own.

But, we went on to host minute-to-win-it games, hold workshops, work with experts at the university, and host brainstorming sessions. It felt like everyone knew each other, or at least I knew everyone, and it was great.

At the end of the year I was faced with a decision: run for PRSSA president or Inspire co-director. What did I do? I chose the one thing I knew I wasn’t ready to let go of, and I became a co-director again.

Again, we ran workshops, increased our client list, let clients go and replaced them with others, increased our membership, and worked to maintain it. I got to work with each and every client and their team on a personal level. I got to produce work that they loved and used. I got to offer my fellow members an opportunity to learn and to do at the same time.

I have more to show from these four years than just a couple of old titles. I have an entire resume packed with fundraising experience, research experience, PR experience, graphics experience, management experience, recruitment experience, and a heck of a lot of connections both professional and social.

My advice to one and to all is to join or start your student-run PR firm, because heaven only knows that it is one of the most rewarding experiences PRSSA has to offer. Trust me on this, because I experienced it.

Your former Inspire Public Relations Co-Director,

Shelby Cronk