New Year, New Pros

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Each year, the turning of the calendar marks a time of transition for the New Professionals Section. In the weeks leading up to the holidays, the incoming and outgoing committee chairs begin the transition with a flurry of calls, messages and documents exchanged. And then we set off to plan.

When I started digging in to planning back in September, I found there was a lot I didn’t know. Despite being a member of the Section for four years and on the Exec Committee for three, I had a hard time articulating what our goals were. As a committee, we had always done a pretty good job of executing on our individual goals, but we didn’t have a strategic plan or overall goals guiding our work.

As I began the process of meeting with current committee members to select the 2019 Executive Committee, I heard a lot of the same struggles – members weren’t sure what we were working towards or didn’t feel like we had a clear mission or goals to guide us – and decided that we needed a strategic plan. With guidance from other sections and groups, as well as other more experienced professionals, I began to craft a strategic plan for our New Professionals Section with three clear goals that our committee would work toward in 2019.

They are:

  1. Provide valuable tools and resources for professional development to our members;
  2. Position our Section and our members as thought leaders; and
  3. Clearly demonstrate the value of being a PRSA and New Pros member.

Why these three goals? Well, there are a few reasons. First, they are inline with PRSA’s Strategic Plan. Second, they address feedback we’ve heard from members over the past couple of years and are speak to our mission and vision for the Section – to serve members by helping them grow professionally. That is, after all, why we join professional organizations, right?

When it comes to professional development, the needs of new professionals vary a bit from those of mid-level and experienced practitioners. While leadership training is great, and can often be useful, many of us are working towards the next promotion or the next job, and trying to figure out what skills and knowledge we need to have to get there. Maybe we don’t see ourselves as leaders yet because we’re not sure we know the things we need to know or are asking the right questions.

There are two things new pros seem to need to develop professionally – access to opportunities that provide actionable resources they can use pretty much immediately and guidance. This year, we’re going to tackle both.

Through a partnership with PRSA’s College of Fellows, we will make mentoring more accessible to new professionals. Mentors are crucial to professional development and the mentor/mentee relationship is unique. Experienced professionals often have a wealth of knowledge they’re more than happy to share with aspiring and new professionals and their guidance on navigating through career obstacles is invaluable. Mentoring is a two-way relationship, though, and nurturing and maintaining that relationship may not always come naturally. As we partner with the College of Fellows, we’ll explore not only the benefits of having and being a mentor, but what really goes into the relationship, what to expect and how it changes over the course of your career.

Since January is National Mentoring Month, we decided to dive right in and begin the conversation with a joint webinar on Jan. 31 at 3 p.m. ET. This webinar,Supercharge your career: How finding or being a mentor can transform your professional development,” is only available to members of the New Professionals Section and the College of Fellows and will feature two mentor-mentee pairs who will share the ins and outs for fostering a mutually beneficial mentoring relationship. We hope you’ll join us for this discussion.

Actionable resources, like checklists, templates and guides, are something we’ll be working on bringing to our professional development opportunities this year, starting with our Summits.

Last year, we hosted our first in-person networking and learning summit, “Careers in Progress” in New York City. The event was a success, bringing together new professionals from across the country and industry professionals to talk about practical tactics and insights. This year, we’re expanding our summits to three different locations over the course of the year – Silicon Valley, Washington, D.C., and Chicago. In addition to sessions on tactics and trends, we’ll be adding an afternoon workshop to help attendees master a skill. We’re still working on planning each of these events, so keep an eye out for an announcement on dates and programs for each.

“Thought leader” may not be the first word you’d use to describe yourself as a new professional, but our members are skilled in many areas and we want to help showcase these talents. Our blog, The Edge, is an excellent platform for sharing information, tips and ideas. We encourage all members to flex your skills by writing for The Edge and use published posts to build your portfolio.

Professional development and being a thought leader aren’t just limited to talking about skills and successes, though. We all struggle sometimes and struggle a bit through our career. No one will be better able to relate to and understand the obstacles new pros face than your peers. The Edge is also a good place to talk about those issues and topics that are important to you as you make your way through your early career.

We hope that you’ll see the value in being a PRSA member – and a Section member – as a new professional through the opportunities that are made available to you, but we’re also going to do a better job at showcasing some of the benefits to being a New Pros member and the value that we find in it. One way we’ll do this is by better sharing some of the more behind-the-scenes projects that we’re working on to improve our Section. We want you to be just as excited about being a new pro as we are.

We look forward to what’s ahead this year and to better getting to know you. We want to hear from you, so whether you’ve got a question that needs an answer, a success you’d like to share or an idea for something we can do better, please reach out to us on our social media channels, through our MyPRSA discussion forum, or directly to me by email.

Happy 2019, new pros!

– Robyn
  2019 PRSA New Professionals Section Chair