New Pros Chapter Spotlight: PRSA Central Michigan

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There are many PRSA chapters that are doing great work to bring together New Pros and creating an inclusive group to make the transition from student to professional a little easier. This month, we sat down with Hannah Leibinger and Greg Rokisky, chair and vice-chair, respectively of PRSA Central Michigan’s New Professionals group.

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The Edge: Tell us about Central Michigan PRSA’s New Pros group:

Hannah: Central Michigan PRSA New Professionals is the premier networking group for up-and-coming public relations professionals in the greater Lansing area. The group is for new professionals – up to five years new to the field – to network, hone public relations skills and transition into the public relations field with a group of familiar peers. Members of CMPRSA New Professionals don’t need to be CMPRSA members and most activities have little or no cost.

TE: How many members do you have?

H: Since we launched our group in February 2015 after it was inactive for several years, we essentially had to cultivate a group from scratch. We’re currently at around 35-40 new professionals.

TE: What kind of programming have you put together for New Pros?

H: Our goal is to provide programming our members want, which means we frequently have discussions about what everybody is interested in and what they’ve liked so far. Our events have included casual happy hour mixers, a tour of a print shop (which included putt putt golf!), launching a book club (we’re currently reading No Cape Needed by David Grossman, ABC, APR, FELLOW PRSA), LinkedIn peer reviews with free professional headshots by a local photographer, a graphic design workshop for the holidays, a Q&A happy hour with some of our chapter’s more experienced professionals and more.

TE: How does your group fit into the bigger picture of the chapter?

Greg: Essentially, the CMPRSA New Professionals section is the key network that bridges the gap from new graduates to new professionals in our region’s public relations industry. We encourage PRSSA students on the cusp of graduation to attend our events and get a feel for the mid-Michigan professional world. Most students don’t escape the bubble of Michigan State University’s campus and miss out on the great opportunities Lansing has to offer. From there we give new professionals an outlet to comfortably express the highs and lows of transitioning to new professional life, in order for them to become fully integrated members of the larger PRSA community.

TE: What resources do you provide for New Pros?

G: We provide resources from PRSA national, PRSA New Pros national and opportunities to strengthen their resume such as pro bono professional headshots, contributing to The Edge and networking opportunities with more seasoned professionals. But what Hannah and I believe is most valuable for a new professional is a network of like-minded individuals that can come together and communicate any hurdles or achievements we experience in our workplaces. It’s a safe place to learn, vent and grow to become the talented public relations leaders that we look up to, both in our chapter and beyond.

TE: What do some of your members see as the benefit of being a part of the bigger New Pros group?

H: We’ve had a lot of great feedback from our members. Some of the best things we’ve heard are:

“I like being able to connect with and share experiences with other PR new professionals in the community. We can bond together, whether it’s sharing successes or occasionally venting.”

“It’s great to collaborate with other professionals who are experiencing the same success and failures as they navigate the PR profession. I joined for networking opportunities but have now made some great friends!”

“I love new pros because it’s the perfect outlet to engage with other new professionals and establish strategic relationships.”

TE: How do you engage and recruit New Pros?

G: We do a blast for every new professionals event to our full chapter membership, and then ask our board to inform interns/new professionals that might not be on our list. We also have our own Google form for our new professionals section that allows us to easily capture emails via social media posts and at events. Overall, it’s been a lot of grassroots and word-of-mouth effort on our part.

TE: What advice do you have for New Pros for using PRSA to their best advantage?

H: PRSA offers a variety of resources, so it’s just a matter of taking advantage of them. I stay in the loop by following all the social media accounts for PRSA, PRSA New Pros and my local chapter.

G: Don’t be afraid to reach out to others, virtually or in-person, that you think you could learn from. Attend Twitter chats for both PRSA and PRSA New Pros and put yourself out there and go beyond the “four walls” of your city.

TE: What is the best way for New Pros to get involved in the PR community?

H: In regard to advice, I’d say to take initiative and step up for leadership roles, such as spearheading your new professionals group or volunteering on a committee. It makes meeting PR and other professionals in your region a lot easier, plus you get great experience to add to your resume!

G: It’s tempting as a new professional to want to blend in to fit in, but that’s not the case. Be yourself, as only you can offer your unique set of skills and abilities. Look for mentors that can help guide you, and that often means looking outside of your organization. Above all else, never stop learning! The more you can provide value in your presence, the harder it will be for your company, PRSA chapters, etc. to ever let you go.

Don’t forget to connect with CMPRSA on Facebook, Twitter or by visiting their  website. You can also connect with Hannah (Twitter or LinkedIn) and Greg (Twitter or LinkedIn).

From Intern to Full-Time

How to turn your internship into a job offer

As graduation season is among us, college seniors are throwing their caps in the air and entering ‘the real world’. For many, entering the real world starts with a post-grad internship as PR agencies often take on recent grads as interns. As an intern supervisor, and former intern turned full-time employee, I’ve seen many seniors take internships after graduation, stay on full-time and go on to have successful PR careers.

Consider these tips to turn your internship into a full-time offer.

Be in the right mindset: Treat your internship like an entry level position. In many cases there’s minimal difference between intern duties and entry level responsibilities, so take each day seriously and don’t view it as a temporary position.

Learning experience: View your entire internship as a learning experience, so every assignment and task gives you additional experience and skills that can transfer to your full-time job. Also take advantage that while you’re an intern you’re not expected to know all the answers and your colleagues are excited to teach you what they know.

Network: Build a strong network within the company. At least once a week during your internship aim to sit down with colleagues to get to know them and see what you could work on with them. One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was to seek out a mentor, advocate and sponsor. A mentor can help coach and develop you into a full-time employee, while an advocate is your champion to fellow colleagues and a sponsor elevates your career.

Focus on the work: Remember that at the end of the day, it’s about the work you produce. Make sure your work is high-quality and delivered before deadlines. As the summer goes on and you get a feel for the company seek work and projects that will last beyond your internship so you can carve out a place for you full-time. Also consider if you’re at an agency the financial implications of your hire and look for accounts to be on.

Test the waters: An internship is not only a time for the company to evaluate you, but for you to evaluate the company and see if you are a good fit before signing on full-time. Think of your career goals and if a full-time job at the company would help get you where you want to go.

In short, make yourself a valued employee that the company and your colleagues see you as an entry-level employee before you technically even are.

What did you do to land a job from your internship?

Lj3eYZIEJessica Noonan is an Associate at Burson-Marsteller and serves as Chair of the PRSA New Professionals Section. Connect with her on Twitter @jess_noons and LinkedIn.

Leadership Outside of the Office

Maybe you were a leader when you were in PRSSA, or honed your leadership skills through your on-campus involvement. Now that you’re a new professional, you get to start anew and take your leadership to another level. Natural-born leader or not, there are many ways to exercise your leadership outside of the workplace.

Leaders share their wealth of knowledge with others.

PRSA and similar organizations

Local PRSA Chapters and New Pros committees are always looking for new leadership. I always hear from seasoned PR professionals that New Pros are the future of every organization, so why wait until later when you can start making an impact today?

Every organization needs strong leaders to help make crucial decisions. The best way to get your foot through the door in PRSA leadership is by leading in a committee or undertaking a big event/workshop. It’s a great way to network and get some name recognition if you hope to join the board of directors one day.

Local nonprofits and philanthropies

Most nonprofits are in need of an extra hand, and what better way to cure that do-gooder itch than to lend your expertise to a local nonprofit? Find a cause that you’re passionate about, rally up volunteers and lead the cause calling your name. If there isn’t a cause that piques your interest, start one.

There are so many ways to give back to the community: food drives, local politics, animal shelters and the list goes on. Find an area that could benefit from your expertise. A lot of millennials care about cause-driven movements, so finding people to join the effort shouldn’t be too difficult.

Share your knowledge

Leaders share their wealth of knowledge with others. Leaders also build others up, which brings up the quality of people around them. Not only does this extend your authority on the topic of leadership, but it also helps aspiring leaders learn from you. This could include speaking at a PRSA workshop, PRSSA meeting or offering advice at an organization that helped you get to where you are right now.

Even if you don’t think you’re the strongest leader around, these are great ways to become one. If you believe you’re a great leader, bring those qualities to the table and make something better.

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Gemrick Curtom is a member of the PRSA New Professionals Committee and the PRSA Houston Chapter. He is a University of Houston alum and currently resides in Houston, TX. You can follow him on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.

Just Keep Swimming: 4 Things to Remember During a New Chapter of Your Career

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You’ve seen the memes complaining that adult-ing isn’t all cracked up to be. Truth be told, it isn’t easy but it is nothing you can’t handle. Believe it or not, your time in school has prepared you for the task at hand. One thing I admire about the public relations profession is that it is full of critical thinkers and crisis managers who think creatively.

As you navigate the real world, think of yourself as your first public relations client. What is your mission statement, what are your goals for the next six months to a year, what tactics will you use to reach them, and how will you set yourself apart from other brands? Now that you don’t have defining markers like grade levels to help you advance through life, you have to learn to identify both small daily achievements as well as significant milestones that move you closer to success. Below are some tips to remember as you start a new chapter.

Set 6 month or yearly goals…

Whether it’s a creative project you want to complete, a personal achievement like reading one novel a month, or a career goal such as getting a promotion. Setting goals are important because unlike when you were in school, the fall “back-to-school” season, and even a new calendar year, don’t present much change in the “real world.”

Remain poised, passionate, and professional…

Although millennials and Generation Z are driving change in the workforce, we must remember that professionalism never changes. Put your phone away at work, take notes during meetings, and ask questions. It’s the little things that will set you apart from your peers when it’s time for a promotion.

Be curious…

Yes, your role is to manage communications for your company’s brand but there is much more to your organization or agency. Talk to everyone! Initiate small talk with someone in the finance department or reach out to someone on LinkedIn in a different industry; you never know what knowledge you will gain and how it can contribute to your personal or professional self.

Just keep swimming…

Your career is a marathon, not a sprint and things don’t always pan out as planned. Plan A can turn it to Plan B which turns into Plan C all the matter of a few months but don’t let that discourage you. Before you know it, you’ll realize you needed Plan B and Plan C to be ready for Plan A. Remember that success is relative and is dependent on what makes you fulfilled. Success doesn’t happen overnight and if it were easy, everyone would have it.

As you start a new chapter of your career, remember to stay creative, give 110% to your work, and most importantly have fun!

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Jasmine L. Kent, a member of PRSA-LA, is a fan of all things food and beverage, pop culture, and media. Combining all three passions, Jasmine builds community through engaging online marketing and dynamic events as a communications professional in Los Angeles, CA. Keep up with her on Twitter at @JaVerne_xo or visit LoveJasPR.com.

Transitioning from PRSSA to PRSA

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You’ve put in the work, your finals are in and graduation is finally right around the corner. You’re making your post-grad to-do list and checking it twice. Joining PRSA as an Associate Member should also be at the top of your to-dos.

Why Join PRSA?

As a graduating PRSSA member you likely already know that being a member of PRSA is a step you should take to further your career. You probably also know that joining the world’s largest public relations professional organization gives you unlimited opportunities to connect with and learn from more than 21,000 other public relations and communications professionals at all career levels. You may also understand that participating in PRSA, volunteering and taking on leadership roles give you the opportunity to actively shape the future of the profession, as well as shaping yourself as a professional.

By investing in joining a professional organization like PRSA, you’re investing in your career and your own development. Beyond connecting with other professionals, PRSA membership offers the opportunity for continued professional development, career advancement, mentoring and more.

So how do I join?

Joining PRSA couldn’t be easier. All you need to do is fill out the online application, list your Alma Mater, select your local Chapter and special interest sections (please keep in mind both of these are optional) and submit your payment. Don’t forget to keep your receipt since professional organization dues are tax deductible.

Membership dues for PRSA are tiered, depending on experience level. Associate Membership is ideal for recent grads and young professionals. As an Associate Member, you have access to all of the benefits of PRSA with discounted dues. Current students who are within five months of graduation and PRSSA graduates (within two years of graduation) can join at $60 a year. Professionals with less than a year of experience, or those who weren’t PRSSA members, can join at $115 a year; those with one to two years of experience, $155 a year; and those with two to three years of experience, $200 a year. Associate members may also join the New Professionals Section at no additional cost with the promo code AM16. Professionals with more than three years of experience are simply classified as members. Regular membership dues are $255 a year for the duration of your career.

How is PRSA different from PRSSA?

PRSA differs from PRSSA  because it offers professional development for members in all stages of their careers. As a PRSA member, you can seek out ways to get involved and serve your Chapter by contacting your Chapter president or the chair of a committee you’re interested in helping with. PRSA has more than enough opportunities for every member to get involved, but it’s up to each member how much time and energy they want to invest in the organization.

What role does my local Chapter play?

PRSA and its New Professionals Section offer great opportunities for networking with other professionals all over the country, but your local Chapter is the most important piece of your professional puzzle. If you’re looking for a job, to relocate or both, searching your Chapter or prospective Chapter’s online job board is a great way to find positions located near you. Connecting with members of your local (or prospective) Chapter and meeting with them to discuss the opportunities that are available, who you are and what you’re interested in is another often overlooked way to become aware of new jobs within your area. Most new opportunities are passed around and come across the desks of seasoned professionals before they’re posted online, if they ever make it there. Having yourself fresh on your colleagues minds is the best way to become aware of what’s out there, whether you’re looking for a new job or not.

Are there any groups or benefits specifically for recent grads?

Joining the New Professionals Section, one of the organization’s 14 Professional Interest Sections, is a great way to make the transition from student to professional. If you already have an idea of which industry you’d like to work in or would like to have a little extra guidance in the industry you’re currently (or soon-to-be) working in, check out any of the 10 industry specific Sections PRSA offers. If you only join one though, make sure it’s the New Professionals Section. Membership is reserved to those with three years of experience or less and is a great community for young pros to get advice from peers, begin to get involved and give back to the organization, and learn to navigate the working world.

In addition to PRSA’s national New Professionals Section, many Chapters have their own New Professionals group to help connect members and offer resources on a local level. Chapters typically list special interest groups and contact information on their websites. The New Professionals Section also keeps a list of New Professionals groups and their parent chapters.

Will my employer pay my dues?

Some employers will pay professional organization dues for its employees, either through group rates or as part of an employee benefit package. Whether PRSA membership is included as a benefit depends entirely on the company or organization, but it can’t hurt to ask. If you’d like to discuss PRSA and its membership benefits with your supervisor or boss, mentioning items like the industry-focused publications, networking opportunities and the library of free resources and professional development opportunities may be great information to help make the case for employer investment in PRSA memberships.

How can I make the most of my PRSA membership?

All of these benefits are great, but the best way to get the most out of your membership is to get involved with the organization. It can be as simple as volunteering to help with an event or writing for your Chapter’s blog or as involved as taking on a leadership role. Jumping right in and getting your hands dirty is the best thing you can do to put yourself out there, make those important connections, gain experience and make your membership work for you.

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Robyn Rudish-Laning serves on PRSA’s New Professionals Section’s executive committee and is an active member of South Carolina’s PRSA chapter. She holds a master’s degree in Media Arts and Technology and a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations, both from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. Robyn is a native of Southern New Jersey and currently resides in Columbia, SC.  You can connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter, email her or read her blog here.