As aspiring public relations professionals, we have lofty dreams of one day graduating, moving to an exciting city and doing … wait, what exactly is it we’ll be doing after this?
The truth is, we gain public relations knowledge from classes, hoard experience from internships and plant the seeds of a fruitful network by being active in PRSSA. But in our race to gather knowledge, experience and a healthy network, we sometimes speed forward blindly without a clear vision of where we are going.
Beyond PRSSA is PRSA, an organization filled with helpful professionals who were once students themselves. These professionals have walked their own paths — gaining the vision we now lack. Like many PRSSA Chapters, my Chapter at Brigham Young University depends on our local PRSA Chapter to provide guidance and vision.
Our Chapter won the Dr. F.H. Teahan Chapter Award at the PRSSA 2011 National Conference that recognizes the strong relationship between a PRSSA Chapter and its PRSA sponsor Chapter. Michael Smart, former president of our sponsor Chapter, the Utah Valley PRSA Chapter, described some key ways BYU has built a fruitful relationship with our local professionals.
PRSA members have spoken at our meetings, participated in networking events and presented us agency tours. These interactions offer PRSSA members exposure to different functions of public relations in a variety of environments.
The doors are open to our Chapter to attend monthly PRSA luncheons and board meetings. As we take advantage of the opportunities extended to us, even more opportunities arise.
We have a large pool of alumni and local professionals serving as mentors. The professionals that work as our mentors describe two types of students. Type one is a student that is professional, follows up and comes ready to learn. The second type is a half-hearted student that doesn’t put much effort into developing a relationship with the mentor and fails to follow up if the mentor seems busy. Strive to be like the first type of student – mentoring relationships always have the potential to be extremely valuable if built professionally.
One of the strengths in our PRSA/PRSSA relationship is the professionalism that students have shown in following up and requesting assistance from PRSA members. If we fail to reach out, we’ll miss a view of what our futures can be. These professionals want to help us succeed, but their assistance requires our effort.
How does your Chapter reach out to your sponsoring PRSA Chapter? What do you do to establish professional connections?
Jared Gay is the Vice President of Member Services on the 2011-2012 Brigham Young University PRSSA Executive Board. You can find him on Twitter @JaredClarkGay.