By: Hannah Wagner
As a college student, it’s normal to be stressed, have ups and downs and concerns about where you will end up post graduation. You may start off freshman year thinking you know exactly what you want and how to achieve it, but then senior year rolls around and you aren’t sure if the original path you paved for yourself is still the right one. How do you overcome being unsure or uncomfortable in the point you’re at in life?
Personally, I’ve had many ups and downs throughout my college career and changed my path, hobbies and plans numerous times. My whole college experience has been filled discomfort. As graduation approaches in May, the pressure became stronger to nail down what I actually want to do with my life. After weeks of thinking and analyzing what is important to me and where my passion lies, I’ve been able to get a better understanding of what I want, and I want to share some advice and steps I took with other students to help them if they’re going through a similar situation.
It’s okay to be uncomfortable
When I started my college career, someone gave me the advice to “get comfortable being uncomfortable,” and that really stuck with me. You grow the most when you are out of your comfort zone, and just because things may not be going as you planned doesn’t mean you are as off track as you think. Learn to be okay with being uncomfortable, and take advantage of tackling the situation to grow as an individual
Write down your goals and values
One big thing I did when I was having what I’d like to call my “Quarter life crisis” is to write down my goals in life and things I valued. For example, I wrote down goals I’d like to accomplish by the time I was 25-30 and what values I wanted and, more importantly, didn’t want in a career/job opportunity. This really helped me narrow down what I cared about.
Find where your passion lies
In my opinion, everyone can learn how to do a job, but not everyone can grow a passion for it. No matter what it is you’re struggling with, you need to understand if you’re doing something just because it’s working or convenient for the moment, or if it’s something you’re passionate about. I’m not talking about quitting your part-time serving job that pays the bills because you don’t aspire to work in a restaurant. I mean if you’re actively participating in a student organization, full-time career opportunity or volunteering at a nonprofit because you think you have to but you dread going to it every time…stop! Focus on prioritizing what gets you excited, what you spend your free time learning about and what doesn’t feel mundane to you.
With that being said, sometimes you have to bite the bullet and finish out that internship you just can’t stand or lead a fundraising activity you may not have wanted to. Make sure to appreciate the experiences you have and learn something from them, while also growing and tailoring your next experience to be something you’ll enjoy more.
Network in areas you’re considering
Maybe you’re just completely lost and can’t figure out where to begin. The key to overcoming this is talking with others who are in areas that you enjoy! For example, if you’re undecided between going into sports or nonprofit PR, or staying local or moving out of state, talk to people who have been in your position before. Ask them how they tackled it and what challenges and rewards they faced along the way. This helps give you a better guide for expectations. Maybe you think Washington D.C. would be the best place to live, but a friend that just moved there hates the fast-paced life. This gives you an inside perspective on what to expect without having to make big decisions and realize it wasn’t what you thought when it may be too late. Use your network!
Side note: PRSSA Kent has a huge network of PR professionals that are around the country; utilize them to help you figure out your own life!
Don’t put others first
I’ve always struggled with feeling guilty about hurting others’ feelings, but as a young college student you really must prioritize yourself. Close relationships can play a huge role in your life and be a strong supporter, or opposer, of your life choices. For example, if you daydream about living in New York but your family doesn’t want you to move, don’t let that diminish your passion. If your significant other is staying local and you want to take your dream job in California, you should put yourself first. These decisions are hard and not as easy as it sounds, but you can’t let others make life choices for you - you must make them for yourself. I’m a firm believer in attempting to try something I feel strongly in and fail, than never trying at all. You can’t be afraid to fail; you are your own best friend and you know what’s best for yourself, so believe in your decisions and back them up with your goals and values.
Overall, getting through college and planning out your life is difficult. You will be confused, uncomfortable and stressed, but you will get there. Surround yourself with people that support you and you will make it, I promise!
If you’re going through an uncomfortable time, you can reach out to Hannah, Web and Social Media Manager, at email@example.com for more advice or just to grab a cup of coffee and chat.
By: Vanessa Gresley
One of the most important responsibilities of my position on the board for PRSSA is planning Communications Connection. CommConn is our yearly networking event hosted by PRSSA Kent and Franklin Advertising. I was intimidated because I had never planned an event before, let alone if any professionals were going to attend.
So the time came for us to head to National Conference and I was super excited; scared because the plane ride but super excited for the trip. When viewing the brochure I saw that one of the sessions was focused on strategic event planning and new this was the perfect fit for my new position.
The session was done by Gary McCormick. Gary is the owner and principal of GMc Communications. He’s worked with HGTV, Food Network, Travel Channel and Great American Country. The session was all about creating an event with impact. Gary said that the one thing events do is bind people together with the same memories, it aligns them along the same train of thought. Most of the time events are happy occasions; there is joy in celebrating. Gary said companies use events to build engagement.
Engagement with an audience creates an affinity with the brand and helps the consumers stay loyal. Sometimes it’ll be a brand delivering on their promise or executing a strategic goal. Gary gave six reasons for why we really do events.
When you are hosting an event the first question to ask is why. Always know what the outcome needs to be before you even start designing the event. Sometimes when you see what you want the outcome to be from throwing this event, you will realize that an event may not be the tactic that will get you the best outcome.
Once you know you want to host an event, Gary said the first thing you have to do is build a plain.
Gary said the hardest part can be sticking to your budget. Your plan needs to align with your budget. Things to keep in mind: Speakers, cost, food, vendors, visuals, support services, security, logistics and creative needs.
“When you become an event person you become a multitasker with great communication skills.”
It takes strategic skills to bring the party to plan. Use SMART objectives said Gary. Through the whole process make sure to keep asking yourself questions and going back to the whole reason you are throwing the event.
Partnerships with the local community and businesses that drive your target audience is a great way to make your event successful. Develop the plan, meet the objectives and follow through and you’ll start planning events with the successful outcomes you want.
By: Kassandra Kaczmarek
Sunday, Oct. 22, students gathered in salon J of the Hilton Austin to learn about how the city responded to the Austin bombings earlier this year. This session was held by a panel of four employees of the city: David Green, Anna Sabana, Angel Flores and Lisa Cortinas.
Lisa Cortinas, began the session with a breakdown of the timeline of how the events occurred. There incidents took place over a 19-day span and package bombs were delivered to seven different locations, ranging from FedEx locations and private residents. Two people were killed, and five were injured during the course of these bombings.
All of the panelists explained how they were personally and professionally affected by these bombings. They went into detail of what their job was once they heard word of what was happening
“I cried and was scared for the city,” said Cortinas. The major conference and festival South by Southwest, or SXSW, was happening during this time, as well as multiple college spring breaks. They explained how the work force in Austin was severely impacted at this time and gave an example of garbage men not wanting to pick up boxes, for fear it could be a bomb.
The panelists went through the details of how they communicated with the media, “One of the most important things in these situations is clear communication,” said Angel Flores.
A major struggle with this tragedy was that you can’t prepare for something like this, “How do you prepare for something like this? You don’t. We know how to prepare for flooding’s but there is no preparation for a serial bomber,” said David Green.
By: Madison Brattoli
Jane Dvorak, APR and fellow PRSA member educated attendees of PRSSA’s National Conference on how to conduct a strong interview.
In order to succeed in an interview, you must first prepare! In order to successfully prepare you must do research on the company. Conducting research on a company consists of researching the company’s competitors, website, mission statement and searching multiple employee’s LinkedIn accounts.
Before heading out to an interview, ensure that you are wearing the appropriate attire. One thing that young adults often forget to do is iron their shirts. “I will not take you in front of my clients looking like that. That day you are looking as good as you’re going to get, I can’t imagine what a casual day will be like,” said Dvorak. First impressions are determined by 55% the way you dress, act and walk through the door. This is one of your BIG selling points!
In our generation today, young adult often have tattoos. Dvorak states that it is ok to have tattoos but often baby boomers will disapprove. Before you’re interview, know who you are speaking with and if you feel it is appropriate to showcase your tattoos.
As always, practice makes perfect! Practice answering basic interview questions out loud to yourself or ask a friend for help. Practicing out loud helps you better prepare for the interview. First impressions are based by 38% of the quality of your voice, grammar and confidence.
I’m sure you have shook many hands in your lifetime but have you been executing them properly? It is important to practice a proper handshake since it is one of the first impressions you give to an employer. While shaking hands, make eye contact with the other individual and do not be afraid to give a firm handshake. If you construct a flimsy handshake, it shows a sign of weakness.
When employers ask you open ended questions do not “puke up information” about yourself. Stick to the information you feel is important to share without reiterating your entire resume yet again to the employer. The employer is interested in an in-depth conversation about your accomplishments. Pick three bullets form your resume to broaden upon for an interview.
When the interviewer asks the inevitable question, “tell me about yourself” be prepared! Instead of reciting your resume ask the interviewer, “Would you like to know about my internships, work ethic or writing experience?” This will reduce your nervousness during the interview since you will already have these topics planned.
Remember that this interview is not about you, it’s about them. Expand upon experiences you have had that relate with the company. Your experience is your big selling point, not your education.
While in the “hot seat” during an interview always be prepared to dazzle. Show the company why they should hire you. “It’s all about what the company is going to get when they hire you,” said Dvorak.
Another question that is almost certain to be heard in every interview is, “what is your weakness.” Always prepare this question before your interview. When you have detected your weakness, know what the opposite of your weakness is. For instance, say your weakness is procrastination, the opposite is that you can work under pressure effectively. Learn to turn your weakness into a positive attribute that you hold. In an interview, NEVER say that you do not hold a weakness, everyone has some weakness.
Always have questions prepared for your interviewer. These questions can consist of topics you have not talked about in the interview. Have these questions reflect your research you conducted on the company.
In just only 20 seconds employers make a decision on a good and bad pile of employers. Find ways to make your resume to stand out compared to others and when you are given the opportunity to conduct an interview, find your confidence and expand upon your experience. Dazzle those employers!
By: Isabel Illig
Now that PRSAA National Conference is over, we can begin to look back on what we learned. One session at the conference was called Code for Communication with guest speaker Brandi Boatner, the social and influencer communications lead at IBM.
A saying from scientist E.O. Wilson quoted at the beginning of the session really stood out to me, "We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom."
Boatner said how we reach people when there are so many different ways to do it is our current challenge in the communications world. We need to mix analytics and algorithms with what we do best and create some sort of clear-cut ROI to bring PR to the next level.
She went on to tell the audience that there are 15 skills all public relation professionals need:
1.Social media listening
10.Digital Media Relations
Having just five of these skills will get you a good job in the industry, according to Boatner; list them on your resume!
Key takeaways from this session were:
1.Focus on public relations AND technological innovation. Observe how communications affects STEM and why.
2.Work to make PRTech prevalent such as MarTech and FinTech
4.Professionals need to understand the 3 A's - analytics or data storytelling, architecture and algorithms of PRTech. The three A’s affect your most important A of all - your AUDIENCE.
5.We need to find new ways to aggregate information, minimize clicks, and make content consumption easier and more enjoyable.
Boatner leaves us with this quote, "We must lead the charge and disrupt our own medium of delivery!"