Confessions of a Freshman PR Major
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.
PRSSA National Conference Recap
By Daniel Henderson
Last weekend, fifteen PRSSA Kent members loaded up their cars and departed for Indianapolis. This year's annual PRSSA National Conference, "The Crossroads of public relations," offered a lot for students to think about and bring back to their classes here in Kent. Friday morning was filled with agency tours, where students got a firsthand look at the PR activities of companies like Eli Lilly, Hiron, NCAA, and more. Resume critiques were offered, and our fellow PRSSA Chapters from Drake University, Ohio University, Eastern Michigan, and Rowan University presented on topics ranging from how to effectively manage a student run firm, to how to be a great PRSSA leader. Saturday and Sunday provided students the opportunity to learn from PR professionals at the center of the industry right now.
These sessions were in depth analyses of different PR fields, and how we can prepare for a successful future in public relations. More specifics on the rich content form these sessions will be covered in detail on PRSSA Kent's blog from the students who attended them. PRSA, our parent organization, held their annual national conference right next door and offered general sessions for PRSSA students to attend and hear inspirational presentations from keynote speakers. Derreck Kayongo, the CEO of the Center for Civil and Human Rights, reminded us the power PR professional's hold to affect worldwide global change for good, and how effective and targeted communication about the world’s problems helps spark to solutions to those problems. Following Kayongo, United States Astronaut Scott Kelly, who spent a year in space, spoke about his time in space and how communication and PR pros are needed to help keep the public invested in projects that will redefine humanities place in the universe. Monday morning was another PRSA general session from Theresa Payton, former Chief Information Officer for the White House and President of Fortalice Solutions. Payton's expertise on cyber security gave everyone pause about how safe our information actually is in the age of social media, and how often we put ourselves at risk. Mark Emmert sat down for a live interview about the NCAA following Payton's presentation, and gave interesting insight into the workings of the NCAA and how it handles the PR problems that arise from having 19,000 teams operating within your brand.
PRSSA Kent left conference with its fair share of recognition for successes over the last year. Hanna Moore and Brenna Parker with both recognized as recipients of the Presidential Citation and the immediate past president Gabrielle Woodard was awarded the Golden Key award. PRSSA Kent as an organization received the Teahan award for its efforts in diversity. Overall a successful trip to the crossroads of America for our members, and we look forward to next year’s annual conference in Boston.
Daniel Henderson is a senior public relations major and is PRSSA Kent's treasurer. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fifteen of our members attended PRSSA National Conference this fall, which was a great career opportunity filled with networking and professional development sessions. We had the opportunity to hear from a variety of speakers who have had success in the public relations and communications field.
Below are the session recap blogs written by our members:
Special Session: Become the Intern Guru
Where are They Now?
Conversation With Warner Bros. Television Publicity
Knowing What to Say: A Guide to Political Public Relations Recap
Engaging your Internal Audience
Get Your Head in the Game
Crisis in the Crossroads
The Profit of Non-profit PR
Three Ways to Spice Up Your Job Application
Start Up Smart
Why #ItsGoodToBeAGirl: You can never have enough Vera Bradley!
Work It: Fashion Public Relations
Once Upon A Time: A Guide to Storytelling
For more information about PRSSA National Conference, visit http://prssa.prsa.org/events/Conference/.
By Danie Minor
While at PRSSA National Conference, I had the opportunity to hear the infamous Intern Queen, Lauren Berger share her insights and tips on how to get the best internship. Beyond sharing her tips and tricks to getting an internship, she also shared how to maintain a great relationship after your internship is finished.
While in college, Berger completed a total of 15 internships (this is why she is a Queen!) and only three years after graduating college started her business, Intern Queen. As a freshman, Berger’s mom told her she needed to get an internship, so she marched down to the career services center on campus and told them where she wanted to intern and the career services center to come back when she was a junior or senior. Berger took it upon herself with her only relevant work experience being at Limited Too and Red Lobster and made a cold call to the Zimmerman Agency. The internship coordinator told her to send in her resume and she sent it that night, which is what won over the coordinator and gave her the position.
So basically, say yes even when people tell you no, because you never know what could happen when you try. Berger says that when it comes to internships it’s really about “quality over quantity,” so you do not need 15 internships to get a great job after school, but she does recommend having at least two before you graduate.
Lauren’s tips to get the internship:
Lauren’s number one tip once you’ve had your internship:
Follow up THREE times a year with people from your internship!
Once in the fall, once in the spring and once in the summer. Berger says this will help you maintain a relationship with your professional contacts there so your relationship does not get awkward.
In the words of the Intern Queen, “internships are magical!” They are so magical because you never know where they will lead your professional career to. For example, when Berger graduated, she called up a past internship and told them she was moving back to L.A. and wanted to work at the Creative Artist Agency, so her former boss placed her on hold, and made a phone call to the agency and got her an interview a for a few days later. Like she said, they are magical!
The Intern Queen has so many amazing tips to landing your goal internship and jobs after college, so definitely follow her on social media @Internqueen and watch her videos on Youtube at Youtube.com/internqueen!
I loved meeting her and cannot wait to see where her advice leads me.
Danie Minor is a senior public relations major at Kent State. Contact her at email@example.com.
Where are They Now?
By Emily Glatt
Heather Harder, Account Executive, Prosek Partners
Brian Price, Digital Marketing Manager, Starwood Retail Partners
Nick Lucido, Senior Accountant Supervisor, Krispr Communication
Moderator: Jessica Noonan, Group Manager, Weber Shandwick
Have you ever wondered where the PR degree can take you? What is it like outside of college in the "big bad world?” At PRSSA National Conference, four professionals sat down and gave all the attendees insight on what it’s like after college and where a PR degree can take you. Also, they gave advice on how to manage in the world and how to step out of the bubble of college. The entire session was about making our own agenda and allowed students to go up and ask questions to the professionals.
How do you network to find a job?
Brian Price, Digital Marketing Manager for Starwood Retail Partners, suggested to always follow up on your networks and possibly try to network through your network. By getting them to introduce you to other people in the field, you have more networking opportunities.
How do you find a job that you love?
Heather Harder, an account executive at Prosek Partners, gave advice to always try new experiences and opportunities. She had talked about a personal experience when she had gone to a non-profit agency and how she was not excited about it. However, she learned from that experience that she actually loved non-profit. She also learned that starting small and building up a reputation can go a long way into getting those bigger corporate jobs. Heather stated that you should be inspired and never stop dreaming big. By always being inspired and willing to better yourself, you can make those changes. She said, "Don't be afraid to admit that what you want is not what you have--- make the change." Never be okay with settling and always try and try to be happy with your career. Never feel discouraged if you are not immediately in that place, but rather work hard to get to where you want.
How has your experience in PRSSA helped you after graduation?
All four professionals had talked about how PRSSA has really helped that move ahead in the world and how it has helped them get internships and networking experience. Nick talked about how you should always take advantage of that membership. Use it as a tool to get the one up in a very competitive world. He says that PRSSA can help you get any job by contacting other PRSSA members or alumni and getting internships through that.
How do you go from a small school in Ohio to a big city like New York, LA, Chicago etc.?
First the professionals said that big cities mean big agencies and to be ready for competition and rejection. However, they said it was very doable to move to a new city right out of college.
The tips they gave to make it better was:
Do you need a master's degree?
Nick Lucido had reassured all our fears when he said NO YOU DO NOT NEED A MASTERS DEGREE IN PR. He talks about how employers look more for experience rather than how many years you’ve gone to school. However, he did suggest that if you are financially capable and feel that graduate school is your calling, then go for it. Though, to get a first job, you will not need more than a bachelor's degree. He also went on to say that maybe when you are done with your first job then you can go back, but it is not expected of you.
Do you have advice for job interviews and moving into the business world?
The pros said that you should always try to talk about the things you learned from an old job and not about what you did. They also suggested to never say anything negative in a job interview. You don't need to tell them about the secrets and the "behind the scenes" of a program that you were a part of.
When should I start looking for internships or jobs?
Brian Price said to look for jobs right before the summer and, if you are graduating, right before graduation. He meant that you should be doing so a month ahead of time. He says this is the most beneficial because those are hiring right away. If you try to get a job too early, you may not be hired because the company or agency is looking for someone who can work immediately . They also said only to send out three applications to places because you do not want to be overbooked. You really should focus on your one main job that you want; to give all your time and energy to ensure you can get it.
The pros also advise to never be scared to apply for a job because of the experience requirements. They quoted the old saying of "It is quality over quantity". However, they did bring up the harsh reality that you will not always get the job and try to not get to discouraged about a job you didn't get. This is because many companies may be asking for a job that requires you to have loads of experience and some are much more strict about this than others. You can still go for it, but be ready for any answer.
Their final tip was to always seek out mentors and mentees because someday a mentor will help you in more ways then you know. They can help with your resume or they can go as far as helping you get a job. Also, you should try to have multiple mentors to get multiple pieces of advice and insight. This many insights can only help you. Another thing they encouraged was for you to become a mentor to younger people especially when you have left college and gone to a new job. Teach others the things your mentors taught you and help them. When asked where to find a mentor, they said they could do it through PRSSA and PRSA. In PRSA, they have a mentor program. They also talk about how anyone signed up for that is more than willing to help PRSSA members get to where they want.
Do you have any final thoughts or advice?
Emily Glatt is a freshman public relations major at Kent State. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.