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 email@example.com.