It was the beginning of my senior year, a time everyone told me was supposed to be full of excitement, but I was terrified. As a student who has spent more than the normal four years in college, I was stuck on the fact that my college career was coming to an end.
There were always questions floating through my head: What will I do after graduation? Is my resume good enough? Which opportunity should I pursue? I continued thinking about this as I left for the PRSSA 2015 National Conference. Attending National Conference was an unforgettable experience. I made new friends, got a taste of the PRSA International Conference, sharpened my skills and had the opportunity to be mentored by a PRSA Fellow. It was through each of those experiences that I learned a lesson that I wasn’t expecting: the realization that I’m ready to graduate college.
It didn’t happen all at once, or even while I was in Atlanta, the Conference host city. After I came home, as I told friends, family and peers about the Conference, I noticed I was more confident when I spoke about my future career. For me, it came down to two major Conference takeaways.
First, I noticed while attending sessions that I knew the theories that speakers would refer to, or had practiced the skills they mentioned. I learned a lot from the professionals I listened to, but discovering that I have a base of public relations knowledge was incredibly eye opening for me. At this point in my education, there isn’t much more my university can offer me at the undergraduate level.
The other “aha-moment” for me was while attending the PRSA General Sessions. I saw first-hand that learning never truly stops in public relations. Seeing the multitude of professionals attending sessions, looking to sharpen their skills—just like I was—made this lesson truly visible to me. There is no way I can know everything before starting my first job, but as long as I’m always willing to learn new skills, that’s okay.
Equipped with this newfound confidence in my capabilities, I have begun to actually enjoy my senior year. I can rest easy with the knowledge that I have been well prepared, both by my university and PRSSA, and when I have questions, I have a network that is ready to answer them.
Now, whenever someone says that I should be excited to graduate, I can honestly agree with them. I may miss college, and hope to further my education one day. But for now, I look forward to jumping into the real world as a young professional.
Carly Owens is a senior at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, studying communication with an emphasis in public relations. She loves the art of storytelling and looks forward to a career based around that. Connect with her on LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @magicalcarly.