A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend the Public Relations Student Society of America National Conference in Boston, Massachusetts. Although I am only a sophomore I was eager to take this chance and run with it. Despite costing an arm and a leg, I enjoyed the experience as it motivated me as a student studying public relations and provided me with valuable insight into the world of PR. I would like to utilize this platform to lay out three reasons why I enjoyed the conference.
In the past, I have gone to networking events, but nothing too large. They were all in the Greater Grand Rapids area and the networking mainly took place between students, professors, and a handful of PR professionals. The National Conference was unlike anything I could have expected. Perhaps it was because most of the attendees were around the same age and therefore easier to interact with, but networking was extremely simply. There was no pressure to mix or mingle with those around you. It could be as simple as turning around, shaking a hand, and swapping social handles and you just made a connection in a foreign city. These connections were more than just a greeting and sharing names. These people you network with become the people that you explore the city with, attend panels and sessions with, and hang out with at the days end.
Just like general assembly meetings at our local chapter, the National Conference hosted sessions where a speaker would talk about a certain subject and their experiences in the world of PR. These professionals, who are well-known for their work, would offer valuable knowledge about starting a career, what a career would entail, how to manage some of the bumps along the road, and much more. The speaker would then open up the floor to questions from the audience. One of my favorite sessions was ‘The Transformation of PR” hosted by Mike Fernandez from Burson-Marsteller. He talked about his vast amount of experience in PR which varied from being one of the youngest and first press secretaries in D.C. to working with the soy industry. He mentioned that the way he got his start in public affairs was by wandering the streets of D.C., knocking on doors of public officials and asking for a job. Since I am interested in working in public affairs, I was going to ask how one might get a start in the field today, since knocking on doors doesn’t seem like a very viable option today. Sadly, I waited in line for the microphone, but never got my chance to ask my question as the Q&A was cut short due to another session starting soon. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the session.
I am not one who travels very often. I had, embarrassingly, hardly ever left the state of Michigan without my parents. I was excited, to say the least, to take the chance to travel without them holding my hand. Boston was a beautiful city that seamlessly integrated modern buildings with the traditional architecture and history. Our hotel was close to the water, only a short walk away, which offered us an amazing view. I have never met more social squirrels in my life. All in all, it was a worthwhile and memorable trip.
Burson-Marsteller. (n.d.). Retrieved October 25, 2017, from http://www.burson-marsteller.com/
Fernandez, M. (2017, October 23). Mike Fernandez (@Cogit8). Retrieved October 25, 2017, from https://twitter.com/Cogit8
PRSSA 2016 National Conference. (2017, October 12). Retrieved October 25, 2017, from http://apps-prssa.prsa.org/events/Conference/