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PR students and professional organizations

March 1, 2009

I can still vividly recall sitting in Michele Ewing’s Fall 2007 Principles of Public Relations class as she lectured on the importance of involvement in professional organizations such as the Public Relations Student Society of America.

Although the PRSSA meetings and events Professor Ewing spoke about seemed interesting, I couldn’t help but wonder:

“Is it really beneficial to join professional public relations organizations?”

I don’t know about you, but half the clubs and organizations at my high school were the types you joined to beef up your college applications.  (I’ll admit: I paid my dues and joined Spanish Club in high school as an excuse to get out of class one day per year and eat lunch at a Mexican restaurant.)  Therefore, you can’t blame me for wondering if my experience with PRSSA would be similar.

I broke down and joined PRSSA Kent Chapter in Fall 2008, and my experiences with the organization have positively affected my college experience and future career in more ways than one.  If you’re interested in public relations but are not currently involved in a professional PR organization, here are a few reasons why you should consider joining:

  • Learn everything your professors didn’t tell you.

Although our professors are wonderful, it’s great to hear about public relations from those who are working in the field.  PRSSA meetings give students the opportunity to interact with professionals on a one-on-one basis.  Professionals can share personal experiences on hard-to-handle clients, the truth about working in a corporate setting and other details that may help you decide which path you’d like to take in your future internship or job.

  • Network, network, network.

I cannot stress the importance of networking enough.  Not only does PRSSA give you the opportunity to network with students within your chapter, but it also gives you the chance to network with students, professors and professionals across the country.

I was able to attend the 2008 PRSSA National Conference in Detroit, and I interacted with a variety of students and learned from their experiences.  I met the president of  Virginia Tech’s PRSSA chapter during a social event, and we had a great discussion about how her university handled communications during the VT shootings. I also met many future professionals from universities in states such as Hawaii, West Virginia and Michigan.  Who knows: One of the relationships I cultivated through networking may lead to a job opportunity in the future!

PRSSA Kent members network during the 2008 PRSSA National Conference.

PRSSA Kent members network during the 2008 PRSSA National Conference.

PRSSA also hosts special events for networking.  If you’re looking for an internship, you can learn from the pros at The Communications Connection Wednesday, March 11 in Franklin Hall.

If you’re looking for an internship or job, PRSSA has an online JobCenter to connect members with resources in their geographic area.  Cool, huh?

  • Scholarship opportunities abound.

Local and national PRSSA chapters offer a range of scholarships for members.  Many PRSA chapters, including PRSA Akron Chapter, offer scholarships for PRSSA members.  Other great communications organizations, including The International Association of Business Communicators, offer scholarships to students.

  • Take advantage of “extra” opportunities.

College: RockIt!My PRSSA membership gave me the chance to be a part of PRSSA Kent’s 2009 Bateman team.  Four teammates and I researched, created and implemented a public relations campaign for a real-world client in six weeks with a $300 budget.  The College: RockIt! campaign is the most challenging and rewarding experience of my college years thus far.  I cannot wait to meet with professionals during upcoming PRSSA events and tell them the lessons I learned through this campaign.

You can learn more about PRSSA Kent Chapter at the blog.  I’m glad I was able to share my professional organization experiences with you, but now I’d like to hear about yours.

If you’re a member of a professional PR organization, how has membership benefited you?  If you aren’t part of an organization, what’s stopping you?

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2 comments

  1. Great post, Rebecca, and thanks for responding to my blog post. I agree with the benefits of getting involved with professional organizations, like PRSSA.

    I’ve learned so much by attending meetings and talking to professionals about what is happening in the world of public relations.

    Thanks for this insightful post.

    http://recessionprofession.wordpress.com/


  2. Great post! It’s so funny, how similar mine is to yours this week… We must be on the same page. What can I say, great minds think alike!



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