By Casey Levigne
I “joined” PRSSA when I was a freshman. I say this because I went to one meeting and was so intimidated by everyone there that I never came back again that year. To me, I thought everyone had his or her lives figured out. All the upperclassman knew exactly what they wanted to do, and I just felt like a helpless freshman who barely knew what PR was.
Now as I prepare to graduate, I think about my first encounter with PRSSA and laugh because I realize those upperclassmen were probably still in the same boat as me. We were all students here and were all looking to find out more about PR. What makes us more informed is how we involve ourselves in this organization.
I have learned many things from PRSSA that I hope to take with me after college and into my new career.
1. Don’t be afraid to branch out.
I made my first friend in PRSSA sophomore year because I sat next to her. That was it. We both started talking about how we didn’t know what committee to join and, the next thing you know, we joined the same one and stayed in contact the rest of the year. Don’t be afraid to make small talk with people around you because more likely than not, you are there for the same reason.
2. There IS such thing as a stupid question.
I’m sorry, but it’s true. If a speaker is making a presentation, and you ask a question that he or she literally just addressed it can be annoying. LISTEN. The number one communication practice that every professional preaches is active listening. Now, if you don’t understand what the speaker said and you want him or her to expand on it, then definitely go for it! Ask questions that show you are engaged in the discussion.
3. It’s okay to not fully understand what PR is.
I have been studying PR for 4 years and I learn something new every day. I am by no means an expert. In fact, no one in PRSSA is an expert. That is why we are all there. We want to get a better understanding of the PR field and the best way to do that is to actively learn and attend meetings to hear different experiences.
4. GET INVOLVED
I can’t stress this enough. To get the full experience of PRSSA you have to go beyond attending meetings. If I hadn’t joined Inspire Public Relations or ran for an executive position, there is a high chance I would have never attended meetings. By getting involved in different aspects of PRSSA, I made so many friends that I wanted to come back every week.
5. Go network.
Although networking may seem scary, it really is not! We are in a communications field, you are going to have to get used to talking to people, so why not start now! I have acquired almost all of my internship and job opportunities from the network I have made. If you go out of your way to make connections, professionals will be more willing to help you.
6. Take on a leadership role.
I think the name “executive position” is scarier than the actual position itself. Leadership positions allow you take on more responsibility, but are not as challenging as they sound. Best of all, everyone is here to help you! During my time in PRSSA I have been an account leader for Inspire, as well as secretary, vice president, and president for PRSSA. These roles have given me experience in leadership but most importantly something to actually speak about when I talk about my time in PRSSA.
7. Document everything.
One regret I have is that I didn’t take enough pictures during my time here. I know, first world problems. Take pictures of the simple things because you are going to look back on it and laugh at all the memories. Keep every blog post you have written because you might not know when you will need it.
Looking back on my time in PRSSA I can’t help but smile and just think how crazy of a journey it has been. If you were to ask that scared freshman if she would end up loving this organization I think I would have called you crazy. My advice to anyone considering PRSSA is to open your mind to new experiences and do something that makes you uncomfortable. I did, and I have had the time of my life.
Signing out for the last time,