The National Conference Experience

Eric Leist is the executive vice president of Boston University’s PRSSA Chapter. He is a junior majoring in public relations and minoring in business administration. Find him on Twitter and check out his e-portfolio. Watch more than an hour of video content recapping the National Conference on BUPRSSA’s YouTube Channel.

Few events can pry college students away from flip-flops, t-shirts and the beckoning San Diego sun and into business clothes, high heels and conference rooms. The PRSSA 2009 National Conference was one of those few. I was among more than one thousand promising young public relations students who attended the Conference. The hours of workshops, pages of hastily scribbled lecture notes and piles of business cards made my weekend in San Diego one of the most productive I’ve had since before the beginning of football season! I learned a lot, but I’ll simplify it all by telling you how my life and my early career benefited in three ways.

I gained clarity on my career choice.

I spent more time listening at this Conference than doing anything else. The professional development sessions with experienced and young professionals exposed me to the different fields of public relations. I heard lectures on green public relations and advice from living public relations legends. I gawked at anecdotes about the outlandish wildcard personalities public relations practitioners deal with in the sports and entertainment industries. I learned how to start a consulting business, and how to take steps towards that goal now. I discussed the pros and cons of going to graduate school.

And when the dust cleared, I knew a lot more about the public relations practitioner I will be some day. I know more about the public relations fields I like, and how to avoid those I don’t.

I learned the art of networking.

I’ve heard a lot about this thing we call “networking,” but until Conference, I hadn’t really done it. However, the atmosphere at National Conference is ideal for getting comfortable with the process from small talk to exchanging business cards to following up with new connections. I’m definitely going to look for more networking events in the Boston area to hone my new skills and expand my reach.

I was inspired.

More than anything, this Conference was a “Let’s get ready to rumble!” for my young career. There was something rousing about being surrounded by fellow career seekers who are all driven toward common goals.

Many college students fear the real world. At Conference, I learned this fear is irrational. My brain was constantly in motion, creating the long list of things to do. Before Conference, I constantly put off updating my e-portfolio, revising my resume and developing my personal brand. Now, I’m ready and excited to do all of that and more.

I highly recommend attending National Conference or any professional conference. It will steer your career in much-needed directions; it will give you invaluable skills and professional contacts; and it will leave you with unforgettable memories.

For those who attended Conference, what did you get out of it? Did you have a similar experience?

2 thoughts on “The National Conference Experience

    • Author gravatar

      I actually learned something about event planning in an event planning session: Kudos to Mark Lorimer and David Anderson to a really great session. They gave detailed advice on how to create a memorable, well-organized event — and most of their tips, I actually hadn’t heard a million times before.

      I got a lot of help from successful student-run firms at the workshop. Thanks to Natalyn Giverson, Ohio Northern, and Kaitlyn Darr, University of Georgia, I can’t wait to meet with my agency (which is just starting this year) and share everything I learned.

      I was able to share the conference with fellow PRSSA members and students who were unable to attend. #prssanc, enough said.

      Hats off to the National Conference Committee and PRSSA National Committee for a job well done!

    • Author gravatar

      Great thoughts Eric. I did not attend the conference; it was nice to catch a recap of the event. The video allowed your enthusiasm to shine through.

      I agree, listening is so important. It’s fantastic to know that you walked away with a sense of inspiration. Very important as you map out your career path. So many options…

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