Leveraging your PRSSA Leadership Experience to Launch your Career

Launch2

Leveraging your PRSSA Leadership Experience to Launch your Career
By: Emma Finkbeiner, PRSSA Immediate Past President

For recent graduates, standing out amongst your peers in the job search is crucial. In a competitive industry, leveraging the leadership experience gained through PRSSA membership can help you do just that. I spoke with four former PRSSA National Committee members about skills they learned through PRSSA involvement and how they used their experiences to help launch their careers.

Brian Price, PRSSA 2013-14 National President
Corporate Communications Manager, Starwood Retail Partners

Heather Harder, PRSSA 2014-15 National President
Communications Manager, RSE Ventures

Laura Daronatsy, PRSSA 2015-16 National President
Communications Leadership Development Program Associate, Lockheed Martin

Veronica Mingrone, PRSSA 2015-16 National Vice President of Career Services
Analyst, Canvas Blue

What did PRSSA leadership experience teach you about professionalism?

Brian: “I think it showed I took my profession and professional development very seriously. But, you need stories to back it up to show why and how PRSSA experiences are so valuable. Seek out leadership positions not just to have the line on your resume, but for the development that comes with it.”

Laura: “PRSSA helped me launch my career because it allowed me to learn what professional behavior looked like and how to emulate it.”

Veronica: “PRSSA taught me how to interact with professionals at much different stages in their careers than I was. Now, I feel better prepared to engage with senior leadership at my company and, more broadly, at networking events. Knowing how to approach others confidently and keep in touch with them has been instrumental in my career.”

Heather: “Engaging with senior PR professionals as a student taught me a lot about when to speak up and when to listen.”

PRSSA leadership positions are volunteer positions. How is this type of leadership experience different because of that fact?

Laura: “PRSSA taught me it’s not enough to just show up. Raise your hand. Be a volunteer! Help someone else out. You have to be a giver, contributor and follower before you can truly be a respected leader. By thinking about what you can contribute, you’re already doing a crucial part of leading — leaving the place, organization or person better than the way you found it.”

Veronica: “Regardless if your aspirations are to serve students as a Chapter leader or on the National Committee, the operative word is “serve.” Any position you hold in the society – at whatever level – will likely be a time commitment and a good amount of work.”

What did you learn from leading a group of your peers?

Brian: “Much more than group projects in classes, PRSSA taught me to work with a group of my peers. Now, I do it all the time at work, especially when I was at Edelman with so many like-minded colleagues. In PRSSA, you work for clients, projects, fundraising programs with people you (hopefully) like personally, but also respect professionally even when there are competing ideas and different approaches. It’s just like a good workplace in that sense.”

Laura: “I referred to my leadership positions multiple times throughout my interviews because I had learned so many lessons — both good and bad — by leading my peers. It definitely helped (still helps) me in my job now because I know how to manage a project when working with people completely different from me.”

Heather: “Coming into a PR firm with leadership and management experience, I was immediately recognized as someone with the potential to manage our interns and given more responsibility because of the skills I’d developed in PRSSA.”

How did the network you built from involvement in PRSSA benefit you as you began your career?

Brian: “PRSSA prepared me the most by developing my network. I was active in PRSSA outside of just my Chapter, and met many influential professionals and rising new professionals. They became mentors and trusted resources who helped me through the job search process.”

Veronica: “I was able to leverage PRSSA in the job hunt by tapping on the connections – both peer and professional – that I had made in the four years I was a member. These people knew the value of PRSSA and what it meant for my professional development.”

Heather: “You have to continue to cultivate the network and keep in touch with everyone interesting that you meet. It really was useful for obtaining the recommendations that helped me get two very important jobs in my career. I don’t know that I’d have gotten those jobs without being able to call up some PRSSA/PRSA mentors and have them put in a word, because I’d kept a genuine connection with them.”

How did your leadership experience help you stand out among the crowd?

Laura: “You can set yourself apart as a teammate and a leader simply by putting in a little extra time and effort.”

Veronica: “PRSSA gave me an opportunity to lead – and I don’t think I would’ve had experience managing a team this early in my career were it not for the society. It allowed me to become confident in my leadership abilities, to explore my career interests, to travel and figure out where I wanted to move post-grad, to become an ambassador for my university and well-known in my program – and the list goes on and on.”

Heather: “Once I brought it up and explained how much management, leadership and hands-on experience it had given me, I was able to immediately standout as someone with a unique experience and a passion for the industry. These skills helped me prove myself to get more responsibility very early in my first job.”

It’s important to note that the leadership journeys of these four individuals are far from over. All four have continued their development by joining PRSA, serving on the New Professionals Executive Committee and getting involved in local PRSA Chapters. Leadership and professional development is truly never finished, and dedicating time to an organization like PRSSA or PRSA shows your continued interest in the industry and your own professional growth.

Congratulations to the PRSSA National Committee

PRSSA National

The PRSA New Professionals Committee would like to congratulate our 2018-2019 PRSSA National Committee members. We know they’ll accomplish much as members of this committee and as leaders for the future of Public Relations as they progress through their careers. 

NEW YORK (March 14, 2018) —The Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) announced the election of its 2018–2019 National Committee during its annual National Assembly in Miami, March 8–11.

More than 200 students and advisers from across the country and the world converged in Miami for the four-day meeting. During the Assembly, attendees participated in career- and leadership-training events, and learned about the Society, their member benefits, how to pitch public relations, and networked with their peers and public relations professionals.

The 2018–2019 National Committee, which begins its one-year term on June 1, 2018, will be led by National President Andrew Young, of Middle Tennessee State University. Young previously served as vice president of external affairs.

New National Committee members also include:

  • Vice President of Career Services: Alyssa Murtagh, Ohio University
  • Vice President of Chapter Development: Nicholas Goebel, University of Florida
  • Vice President of Digital Communications: Briana Spears, Millersville University
  • Vice President of External Affairs: Rosa Ambriz, Texas State University
  • Vice President of Member Services: Trevor Rayhons, University of Northern Iowa
  • Vice President of Professional Development: Ashleigh Kathryn, University of South Florida
  • Vice President of Events and Fundraising: Ryan Will, North Carolina State University
  • Immediate Past President: Andrew Cook, Brigham Young University*

*This is a regular transition from the presidency.

About the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA)

The Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) is the foremost organization for students interested in public relations and communication. Founded in 1968 by its parent organization, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), PRSSA includes more than 10,000 student members and advisers and is active on more than 350 college and university campuses.

Four Ways to Stand Out (In a Good Way) at Your First Job

stand-out

From navigating the lunch scene to navigating office politics, a first job can be tricky. You want to find just the right balance of doing your job well without seeming like a suck up. I’m no expert, but I do want to share a few tips I’ve found to be helpful as I navigate my first real job:

Have an opinion

This piece of wisdom floated my way from a mentor who’s worked in communications for over 30 years. Just because you’re the new guy or gal doesn’t mean you have to be quiet. There’s a time for speaking and a time for silence. While it’s extremely important to embody a sponge sometimes — taking in all the newness and expertise around you — recognize that you were hired for a reason. Your insights, thoughts and opinions are company assets, so don’t let them go to waste by being unspoken.

Get to know your coworkers as people

You’re likely spending 40 plus hours in the office each week, sitting next to the same people every day.  Take the time to find out what your coworkers’ lives are like when they’re off the clock. What do they love? What do they hate? What’s their favorite way to goof off or relax? By asking these questions and more, you’ll have a better understanding of who your colleagues are — not just as fellow workers, but as fellow humans. I think you’ll find that this has a catalyst effect when it comes to building trust and empathy. Plus, it’s never a bad idea to gain a little extra social capital by remembering someone’s birthday or wishing them well before they leave for vacation.

Keep a work/life balance

Plenty of people throughout your career will tell you to “say yes to everything.” In my opinion, it’s not the wisest way you can live and here’s why: If you keep saying yes to everything, you’re going to find it harder to flex your crucial muscle of discernment. Instead, you’ll find yourself automatically accepting job assignments and social invitations that are going to wear you out with no substantial gain. To function at your best, you have to create space to recharge and connect. Don’t believe me? Check out this handy PR Daily infographic that explains even more benefits of keeping your weekends free from work.

Do the right thing

At Lockheed Martin, “Do what’s right” is one of our three ethical mottos. (I’m fortunate that it’s also a life motto for me, too.) Lots of times it may be easier to purposefully overlook a small error or choose to end a task before going the extra mile. Hey, nobody’s even going to notice, right? Wrong. The trouble with that thinking is that it doesn’t matter if nobody notices. If you’re not doing the right thing and making choices out of integrity, then you’re not only cheating the company, but also yourself and your coworkers. Instead of “advancing the profession,” you are choosing to take the whole ship down with you.

What advice has been helpful to you at your first job? Or what advice do you wish you would have been given to you?

lauradaronatsy_headshotLaura Daronatsy is the Immediate Past President of PRSSA and currently works as a Communications LDP Associate at Lockheed Martin. She graduated from Biola University with a public relations major and biblical and theological studies minor. Connect with Laura on Twitter @lauradaronatsy.

PRSSA: How to Kick-Start a Relationship with Your PRSA Sponsor Chapter

Editor’s Note: This blog originally appeared on the PRSSA Progressions blog. Whether you’re a college student or a New Pro, it’s important to build strong chapter relationships between PRSA and PRSSA.

The dynamic nature of the public relations profession, coupled with the current market saturation of recent and soon-to-be graduates, requires that students go above and beyond to create meaningful connections and make themselves stand out. One of the most valuable benefits of PRSSA membership is the opportunity to befriend and learn from local PRSA professionals.

The relationship between PRSSA and PRSA Chapters is an important one. PRSA sponsor Chapters provide mentorship, programming and fundraising assistance, training and industry insights, and students preparing for their careers need talented and engaged professionals to emulate. However, the day-to-day rigors of life, school and work can make managing these relationships especially challenging. As a PRSSA Chapter member or leader, here are some things you can do to kick-start your Chapter’s relationship with PRSA:

Help them help you. PRSA members are working professionals and contribute to PRSSA during their limited free time. They’re happy and eager to help, but it’s up to you to reach out and establish the foundation of a relationship. Don’t be afraid of the follow-up and always come prepared to talk about what help your Chapter could benefit from. Many times, PRSA professionals won’t know how to help you create a better member experience until you tell them.

Establish a constant. Because of the high turnover rate in PRSSA leadership, it’s difficult for Chapters to maintain meaningful relationships with PRSA annually. If you really want to leave a mark on your Chapter, create or utilize assets that can stand the test of time. Here are a few examples:

  • Create a tradition that requires your PRSSA Chapter and PRSA sponsor Chapter to interact at least once each year. You can create an event that brings professionals and students together, and allows the professionals to share and mentor. You can draw attention to your Chapter and create networking opportunities by inviting professionals to an entertaining event on-campus: Think (fun)draising, food and professional development.
  • Build a constant into your bylaws. If you take your Chapter’s relationship with its PRSA sponsor Chapter seriously, you will make it part of one of your officers’ duties or create a committee. Someone who is not the Chapter president needs to be responsible for making sure members have access to PRSA members — it’s that essential.
  • Use your Faculty or Professional Adviser to facilitate introductions. These people are tasked with counseling Chapter leadership and guiding members. Your Faculty and Professional Advisers are required to be PRSA members, so they should have ready access to your sponsor Chapter.

Be resourceful. PRSSA National has a wealth of resources available to you, as both a member and a leader. If you’re a Chapter leader and struggling to contact PRSA, you can reach out to: the vice president of professional development, the National Faculty Adviser or any other person on the PRSSA National Committee. Furthermore, consider reading the PRSSA/PRSA Relationship Manual or contacting someone in your area through theChampions for PRSSA directory — an exclusive PRSSA member benefit.

PRSSA members are the future leaders of the communications industry, and will one day be the CCOs and CMOs of the world’s most influential companies. It’s imperative professionals do a better job engaging, and students do a better job asking for that engagement.

gary-bridgensGary Bridgens is a project assistant in APCO Worldwide’s New York office and the former PRSSA National vice president of Chapter development. You can contact him via email at garybridgens@gmail.com and add him on LinkedIn.

PRSA New Pros 2016 ICON Recap

Indianapolis skyline.

The Public Relations Society of America’s annual International Conference was held Oct. 23-25, 2016 in Indianapolis, Ind. We’re thrilled that a number of New Professionals section members were able to attend, and if you weren’t, read on for our recap.

New Pros Breakfast

The conference officially kicked off Sunday, with New Pros gathering for a networking breakfast.

Thanks to all who joined our New Pros session at PRSA International Conference – it was great to meet some fellow new pros and hear from seasoned professionals from the College of Fellows. We covered tips including first jobs and how to get involved in PRSA. If you’re interested in getting more involved and volunteering for the New Pros section, reach out to get involved! – Jessica Noonan, Chair, PRSA New Pros

Planning to join PRSA in the next couple months? Use the code AM16 to get a free New Pros Section membership when you apply to become a PRSA Associate Member.

“Where Are They Now?” – New Pros Panel at #PRSSANC

The New Pros section also hosted a panel for students at the PRSSA National Conference. Top tips included:

My advice to my 21-year-old self would be to relax. Don’t worry so much about graduation and focus on making the most of your last classes, internships and time as a student. – Nick Lucido, Immediate Past Chair, PRSA New Pros

You can rely on your network for support and guidance for the job search. But if you’ve gone dark on a person for a nine months and reappear asking for help it may not be as helpful as if you kept the relationship strong over time, so stay in touch with your connections. – Brian Price, Chair-Elect, PRSA New Pros

I was once told, “The only person holding you back is yourself.” Don’t be a roadblock to your own success. Believe you can achieve everything you dream of, be confident, and don’t let fear keep you from trying. – Heather Harder, Programming Chair, PRSA New Pros

Management Session Recap

On the final day of conference, the section led a session for New Pros (and their supervisors) on how to manage your first intern/new hire, client, project, and more. Top takeaways include:

To effectively manage up or be managed from below you must clarify and manage expectations and respect the boundaries and communication style preferences of the people that you work with on a daily basis. – Ruthann Campbell, Programming Chair, PRSA New Pros

When it comes to first-time managers, you have to be flexible. Remember that you are combining someone with little experience in management, with someone who has little experience in being managed. To effectively support your new hires, remember the 5’s: set expectations, structure, share (time, knowledge and networks), support and self-growth (because new pro managers learn too!). – Andrea Gils, PRSSA Liaison, PRSA New Pros

New Pros should begin managing their first client account or project once they have a successful track record of work, can handle an increased workload and have set expectations. It’s good exposure for them, especially with upper management and for mentorship opportunities. – Hanna Porterfield, Blog Chair, PRSA New Pros

Want to learn more on this topic? Join our next #NPPRSA Twitter chat on Tuesday, Nov. 15 at 9:00 p.m. EDT.

ICON Testimonials

Wondering if it’s worth going to PRSA ICON as a New Pro? Looking to convince your employer to help you attend next year? Simply want to learn more? We’d love to see you!

This was my first time experience with a PRSA conference. Attending would not have been possible without my involvement with PRSA New Pros as it was through volunteering for the national committee that I was presented with the opportunity to speak. It was invigorating to be able to meet new people and hear about the similar struggles and challenges being faced by professionals in all stages of their career and industries. I learned a lot about new tools and strategies to help me be more effective in my role at a non-profit. If you have the opportunity to get involved and participate at any level of PRSA, I highly recommend that you do so and in the words of a College of Fellow representative, don’t’ just join, join in! – Ruthann

#PRSAICON has been THE highlight of my year. I can’t believe it was my first conference and I was able to present too – all thanks to PRSA New Pros! My favorite part of this year’s conference was being able to talk to a new pro after our session. She was so engaged not just during our presentation but afterward as well. She was facing challenges that we’ve all have faced as new pros and it was very rewarding to be able to listen to her and help her tackle her challenges. I think there’s a perception that PRSA New Pros is for those who just graduated from college or PRSSA – and it is – but it’s also for those who are seasoned pros and may be new to public relations. Our session showed me that there are a variety of New Pros, who are all equally interested in our section and what it has to offer. – Andrea

Check out more recaps from general sessions on PRSA’s website. Contact any of our section committee members to learn more and see you at PRSA ICON in Boston, Oct. 8-10, 2017.