Public Relations is one of the most complicated, diverse, and impactful fields someone can enter. Not only do you have to be a “people person,” but you also have to be a storyteller, writer, creator, social media expert, and communicator. With all of their different responsibilities, PR professionals have the opportunity to make a huge difference. Still, knowing how to navigate the field and its many facets can be an overwhelming challenge I would not have been able to overcome without PRSSA.
When I first joined PRSSA, I was a freshman with big dreams, drive, and a love for entertainment. I remember seeing our Chapter president give a presentation about PRSSA and all the amazing things it has to offer, and I immediately knew I had to be a part of it. The networking opportunities, events, and people drew me in, and I knew PRSSA would give me the skills and insights needed to make it in the entertainment industry.
Soon, I became an official member and attended almost every event that year. One of the most important things that I gained from PRSSA as a freshman was how to be professional. Seeing so many of my peers have things like business cards and headshots was definitely new to me, and I tried really hard to catch up and soak up everything I learned. I was also able to make some incredible contacts and friends from attending events and hearing from professionals in the industry.
When sophomore year rolled around, I decided to join my Chapter’s executive board as the social media and communications chair. During my time serving in this position, I learned so much about leadership, social media, design, and teamwork. Working on a team where everyone relied heavily on each other was a huge learning experience that gave me the tools I needed to not only be a more effective professional, but a more effective leader. I was able to deepen connections with panelists who spoke at our events, and I increased my ability to network as I got to speak with many peers who were new to PRSSA.
Gaining the skill of developing deeper connections was fundamental to my growth in entertainment and helped me land my first internship. A friend of mine — who I had met through classes and PRSSA — messaged a group chat about her brother’s entertainment PR firm looking for a summer intern. After looking into the firm and their clients, I applied and was offered the position. The lessons and experiences from this internship were incredible, and I truly believe my PRSSA networking skills helped me land this position.
After the summer ended and junior year began, I took on the role of Chapter president. This role not only taught me how to be a true leader and manage people, but having such heavy involvement with PRSSA on my resume got me in many doors within the industry.
At the beginning of the year, a professor reached out to a group of students letting us know that she had received word from an alum that NBCUniversal was hiring interns. After reaching out to the alum and going to several interviews, I was offered the position. Once again, I was seeing the networking and interview skills that I had picked up through PRSSA come into play. During the interview process, I talked to several former PRSSA members, and I was able to bond with them over our mutual love for PRSSA and PRSA.
One of the places I really saw the skills I learned from PRSSA come into play was when I interned for Fender Musical Instruments, which was my dream company to work for. Each semester at Fender, the interns are given an unreleased product for which they have to create a marketing campaign. My group was given the Billie Eilish signature Ukulele. I found myself using so many of the leadership skills, tips from panelists, and organization skills learned from PRSSA, which were all vital to my success with our project.
Soon after the Fender internship concluded, I began freelancing as a publicist for bands and musicians. I’ve also worked as a Temp PR Coordinator at Insomniac Events/Live Nation and at Showtime/ Paramount+. These experiences allowed me to take everything I learned and put it into practice.
None of these positions would have been possible without the skills and connections I gained from PRSSA. The thing about PRSSA is that it really is what you make of it. The friends, networking tools, leadership tools, advice from professors and students at other schools, ideas for how to make your resume or business card better, insight on internship experiences, and so much more make PRSSA a formative experience that I highly recommend.
After spending three years on my Chapter’s executive board — two of which as President — I can confidently say PRSSA got me to where I am today. PRSSA gave me the confidence to pursue my professional dreams and apply for seemingly unattainable positions. My PRSSA experience will always have a special place in my heart.
So, as a PRSSA alumna, my advice to you is to become as involved as possible with PRSSA and learn everything you can. Even though it might seem scary, it might create a path that will lead you to exactly where you want to be.
Amanda Pappalardo is a storyteller, creator, and PR professional from Orange County, California. She graduated from Biola University in 2021. During her time at Biola, she had the privilege of interning at Persona PR, NBCUniversal/Universal Television, and Fender Musical Instruments. Additionally, she managed all marketing for an on campus theater group for two seasons and served on Biola’s PRSSA executive board for three years. After her last internship, she began freelancing for artists such as Colette Lush, DJ Kellalit, Jenny Chapin, Allie Alvarado, and Travis Yee. This led to her holding positions as a PR Coordinator at Insomniac/Live Nation and Showtime/Paramount+. She has also worked with industry names such as Grammy nominated songwriter Sam Hook and Lionchld. In her free time, she loves to play guitar and write music, and has even acted as her own publicist on several occasions.