Graduating from PRSSA to PRSA

Two years ago this month, I officially began my full time public relations career. I had just graduated from Michigan State University and made the move from my dorm in East Lansing to, well, a similarly sized studio apartment in Chicago.

In making this transition from student to professional, I realized how dramatic the change was. While my living space remained the same (hey, no one ever said entry level public relations professionals make a lot of money), a lot of other things changed in my life. Exploring a new city, meeting new people and even just trying to take the train home can add to the stress of trying to keep up with a full-time job.

With all of these life changes, one thing was pretty consistent for me: continuing in my professional development pursuit.

Even though I was still only starting to figure out my new life in Chicago, I knew I needed to transition from PRSSA to PRSA. As it turns out, it has helped me advance in my career for the past two years and I’m glad I stayed involved.

If you just graduated, chances are you’re now beginning a job or internship, or looking for that first post-graduation position. No matter which category you fall into, membership in PRSA can help you out. As starting a PRSA membership has a bit different process than you may have been used to paying your PRSSA dues, here’s a breakdown of the different types of membership offered:

  • National: if you had been a dues-paying PRSSA member when you graduated, you can join PRSA for only $60 per year (for up to two years). This gives you access to all PRSA member benefits, such as free professional development opportunities and PRSA’s JobCenter.
  • Chapter: when you decide where you’re going to live after graduation, consider joining a local Chapter and becoming active in committees and programs there. Many PRSA Chapters offer discounted rates for recent graduates. More information on the more than 100 U.S.-based PRSA Chapters can be found here.
  • Professional Interest Sections: PRSA offers members the opportunity to connect with other professionals in similar industry sectors or career phases for more focused professional development through its Professional Interest Sections. These sections include professionals in the nonprofit, corporate, sports and entertainment and technology sectors. For PRSSA graduates, I recommend exploring the New Professionals Section – it’s designed to help you connect with other new pros and gain the skills you need to succeed.

When considering these different membership options, keep in mind that only by investing in your career and your professional development can you make the most out of them. Simply paying your dues won’t get you a promotion – but advancing your career by getting involved in PRSA and striving for leadership positions can help pivot you for success .

Nick Lucido is a senior account executive at Edelman Digital in Chicago. He served as PRSSA 2010-2011 National President and is active in PRSA as an executive committee member for the New Professionals Section. You can follow Nick on Twitter at @nicklucido.

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