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 Natalie Eusebio
1. You make all the plans
Whether it’s just a simple night out, or an elaborate road trip to the beach, you are at the center of it all. You set the time, you map out the route and you Pinterest the best restaurants. But that’s okay, someone has to keep the group together! At least you guys always have a good time!
2. You come up with the best Instagram posts
You know how to build your brand! Your Instagram profile has to match your personal brand. So yes, you know exactly how to pose your girls, and you know which filter you will use before the picture is even snapped! Not only that, but you have a list of clever captions already drafted on your phone. Social media queen looks good on job applications, right?
3. You correct everyone's grammar
When someone accidentally uses the wrong form of “you’re” in the GroupMe, you are not shy about correcting them. You even look for correct grammar use in tweets and emails. Everyone sends you their papers that need edited. You’ve got this, it’s your job.
4. You’re the first one to say “What were they thinking?” upon seeing a scandalous social media post.
We’ve all been there. You are scrolling through twitter and see that your BFF tweeted something incredibly vulgar. You are the first one to think about how this will impact her personal brand and future job opportunities. You text her right away and tell her how detrimental this tweet will be to her career and future. Then you wait for her to take your expert advise and delete the tweet. Phew! Crisis averted!
5. Everything is about your brand
From the people you hang out with to the concerts you attend, your personal brand is at the center of everything you do. It’s not a bad thing! You are organizing your life and planning for your future. You watch what you say to others and understand that words have power. After all, you wouldn’t want to do or say anything that could jeopardize your future presidential campaign!
While your friends might still be confused about what PR even is, you are the handy squad member that has everything covered. From the best plans to the funniest tweets, you are their go-to friend.
Natalie Eusebio is a sophomore PR major and is a member of PRSSA Kent's web and social media committee. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Latisha Ellison
DePaul PRSSA hosted a regional conference for music and entertainment PR called PRpalooza. I had the pleasure of sitting in on two sessions: one with Rob Walton from Allied Integrated Marketing (AIM) and the other with the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE). AIM represents major film studios and Walton heads GrassRoots Promotion and red carpet events, while DCASE is responsible for organizing and promoting seven free music festivals for the city of Chicago. It was my first time in Chicago, I had a blast, and even learned a few things along the way.
1. Entertainment PR is not glamorous.
It's hard work. These PR professionals work 18-hour days and wear several hats. They are part event planner, part travel agent, part tour guide and part food critic; that's what it means to be a publicist. As an entertainment publicist you will be up at 5 a.m. picking up talent to do press tours for the day or getting the media ready for an event happening later in the day. Then, you will be up late because your company will want a full report of the day's work. In Chicago, the PR professionals are right in the middle of two time zones, so Walton is expected to be answering emails until at least 7:30 p.m. to accommodate all clients. If you're thinking about entertainment PR, just remember red carpets are fun, but you're behind the scenes keeping everything from falling apart, not modeling for the shoe cam.
2. Genuine connections are crucial.
We are always told how important it is to network, but I think that sometimes we forget that part of networking is forming a real connection with someone. PR is all about relationships and now is the time to start building genuine relationships with those going into same industry as you. National and regional conferences are great places to meet your peers who will eventually become your colleagues. If the relationship is real, the connections will be better and mutually beneficial. I think this is especially true when networking with professionals in the industry. Real connections will last longer than the two-minute conversation you have after a breakout session.
3. Creativity is important.
AIM represented the movie "Sausage Party," and Walton had to discover a way to get some publicity for the film, so he reached out to the food section of the paper that wrote about different types of sausage and he got some buzz going about the film. Another time he did some research for a film and found that it had a connection to a local theater. Through his research he was able to connect the film to the city of Chicago which helped generate even more press. In entertainment, as in all branches of PR, you really have to think about who your audience is and what will make them interested in your movie or event. Thinking outside the box can make you more appealing to more people.
4. Current Events are important.
It's always important to know what's going on in the world, regardless of the industry you're in. In entertainment, knowing about the world can help you create more ideas for your communication plan. In the film industry, promotional screenings are held to get a preview of what the public will think about the film and how the publicists have to frame their messaging. The movie "Patriot's Day" came out at the same time the Chicago Police Department was facing scrutiny in the media. AIM invited 30 members of the Chicago PD to a screening of the movie as a way of calming things down a bit.
5. PRKent is preparing us for the real world.
Listening to DCASE's presentation made me feel like I was sitting in Eric Mansfield's media relations class and Professor Armour's PR Tactics class. Press releases aren't dead. In fact, they're incredibly important and need to grab the attention of the reporter reading it, and that reporter had better be the right person to receive the release! In entertainment PR it is so important to follow a communication plan, using a workback, months before your event. This plan includes a roadmap for the event and leaves room for potential roadblocks that are sure to happen. Research is the key to a successful event because through research we learn who our audience is and how they will receive our messages. Our key messages have to be targeted the right way--with a strong call to action--to each of our audiences if we want a successful event.
I learned a lot at PRpalooza and had a great time. Special thanks to DePaul PRSSA for planning a great regional conference! If any PRSSA Kent members are interested in attending future PRSSA conferences, talk to the PRSSA officers and learn about how you can attend.
Latisha Ellison is a junior public relations major and is PRSSA Kent's YouToo Committee Chairperson. Contact her at email@example.com.
By Natalie Meek
As a freshman, I’ve learned how to survive two straight days of class with no sleep and a venti sized coffee. I’ve learned how to start a conversation with a complete stranger, and to not be embarrassed for eating an entire pizza at three in the morning. But thanks to PRSSA, I have also learned how to start a resume, network with professionals, and how to prepare for future internships.
Many freshmen, like myself, come into college with a vague vision for their future. We take an array of classes, join various clubs and organizations, and meet as many people as we can in hopes to prepare for our eventual life after college. However, because of PRSSA, I can honestly say that I have a clearer idea of my future as a public relations professional.
There are so many valuable lessons and skills that people can take away from being a PRSSA member. I would encourage anyone to become involved- especially as an underclassman. Being a PRSSA member not only helps me constantly keep my professional goals in mind, but also pushes me to stretch those goals to more than I would have ever imagined otherwise. By being exposed to dozens of professionals from local and national businesses, you are able to see first-hand the different types of opportunities that are available for this career. Attending networking events like Communications Connected as a freshman can also be incredibly valuable. Although you probably aren’t looking to connect for an immediate internship, it is never too early to start making connections and putting your name out there.
The PRSSA meetings that occur every other Wednesday have been a great way to start this learning process. In just one semester, I have learned about PR opportunities in non-profits, the fashion industry, entertainment, and government. Because you have no experience in PR, it is so valuable to hear about these categories right off the bat. After listening to professionals explain their career responsibilities, it is much easier to have a clearer vision of what you like and what you do not. When you have a better idea of where you want to take your future career, you are able to make your classes and internships much more beneficial.
One of the events I attended this semester was PRSSA National Conference in Indianapolis. This was an amazing event that hosted hundreds of PRSSA students from across the nation. We all had the opportunity to network with each other and with the professionals that spoke at the conference. There were sessions given by PR professionals working for Vera Bradley, Warner Brothers, the NCAA, nonprofit organizations, and many other companies. There were multiple opportunities for resume critique and workshops, and we even attended a few sessions with the professional organization, PRSA. Being surrounded by other aspiring public relations professionals created a very exciting atmosphere, and speaking with the professionals who had already achieved many of the goals that we set for ourselves was incredibly inspiring.
PRSSA Kent has been more than just a career starter for me. I came to Kent State not knowing many people, and I wasn’t incredibly active on campus because everything was so new to me. But PRSSA has been nothing but welcoming since the very first meeting. The upperclassmen on the executive board are role models like no other. They are smart, driven, experienced students and there are so many lessons that I have learned simply by watching them run our chapter. So many upperclassmen, especially at National Conference, reached out to me with advice and I am lucky to have formed friendships with such a smart, supportive group of people.
It’s normal, and in most cases, expected, to have confusion concerning your future professional life; and PRSSA knows that. The faculty assistance, diversity, and events within PRSSA make this organization extremely beneficial. I have made friends, mentors, and connections by joining PRSSA, and I am so glad that I chose to start this journey as a freshman.
Natalie Meek is a freshman PR major and is PRSSA Kent's editor. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Brittney Prather
Some people know it as New York City or as the Big Apple, but I know it as the amazing city that drained my bank account. Don’t get me wrong, I loved everything about interning in NYC this past summer, but when applying to intern in another city other than your own there are a couple things you might want to consider.
Number one, living. If you are not content with living on the street to save money, you will most definitely need to set aside the larger portion of your money towards this if you don’t have family or friends that you are going to be staying with. For me, I stayed at the NYU dorms and although centrally located and a great place to live, it was over $400 a week...now let’s just say you are going to be interning for 2 or 3 months, that adds up. This does not even cover expenses for food and miscellaneous activities.
This brings me to number two, although you might think that you are good at saving money, this almost becomes an impossible task when you are surrounded by shopping central and even the most addicting thrift stores you will ever come across. You might be different, but for me there was always some way that I would justify my purchases. For example, I have had millions of milkshakes in my life and when I found out a place named Black Tap was known for having “unique” looking ones, I decided to pay $15 for a shake. It was delicious, but I can’t say it was the best shake of my life nor did leprechauns who would grant me three wishes come popping out of the straw. Also, most of your purchases will become motivated by how many ‘likes’ you’ll get on Instagram more than the actual enjoyment of the product….guilty. Speaking of milkshakes, FOOD is what is going to get you. If you are a big foodie and like to try new things, then beware. In most big cities, the prices are more expensive, but the struggle is real when you are paying for multiple $15 meals each day, it truly does add up and will suck the money right out of your pockets (or purse).
As for three, be open to new experiences and new people. Unless you grew up in the city that you are interning, chances are that you are not going to know too many people so really try and push yourself out of your comfort zone, especially within the first couple weeks . Luckily for me, I was additionally taking Kent State Classes in the fashion studio with other students, but even then I wasn’t extremely close with any of them until I pushed myself to hang out with them outside of class along with people I met in my dorms. Even if you don’t like the Bachelor or Bachelorette, go to the watch parties or throw one of your own because chances are, there’s someone who is obsessed or says they hate the show, but still continues to watch it.
Lastly, be careful! Although New York is bigger than most cities, you need to be cautious anywhere you go. If you are a girl, carry pepper spray with you at all times and ALWAYS be aware of your surroundings. I am very cautious for the most part, but even that won’t make up for the high levels of sketchy that you come across at all times of the day, especially at night time. If you can, try not to ride the train at night by yourself and if you are, pretend like you are listening to music or try to stay on the phone with someone. Also, when going out to the bars and or clubs, please make sure to go with people who you know will look out for you, this is extremely important.
Overall, interning in New York City was a life-changing experience. The company I worked for was Agentry PR, which is a Fashion Public Relations company. There were several tasks that they had us do each day that we would come in and were very connected with Fashion Week so the interns got to go and work closely with the different shows. If you plan on interning in another city other than your own, consider the tips I gave above, and most of all, HAVE FUN! This is an experience that I will never get again, learn from your experience and really try to take the most out of your internship. Make connections and obviously add it to your resume and LinkedIn. Good luck!
Brittney Prather is a junior public relations major and is PRSSA Kent's vice president of Membership. Contact her at email@example.com.