Imagine going to class one day and EVERYONE is talking about an exam topic of which you have absolutely no recollection. You feel lost and you begin to panic. That is what I feel like most of the time as a freshman public relations major.
While I have yet to take a PR class, I was thrown into activities immediately, with the objective to learn as I go. This can be incredibly intimidating and nerve-wracking at times. Professional Development Day both instigated and remedied this situation.
Overall, I really enjoyed the event. It was exciting to get dressed up and go to Pittsburgh, in a professional setting, and try to truly experience the public relations field. Like a typical freshman, I praised the venue with its fancy high-rise and the leather couch in the bathroom.
I was nervous to be discussing topics that I have yet to learn anything about—like the Crisis Communication panel. However, it was significantly informative, and I was able to get a feel for one area of public relations. In that particular panel, we listened to an in-depth discussion on the crisis involving Volkswagen emissions and the way the company has been handling its public image. I was interested by the real-world application of this panel: it was testament to the fact that PRSSA takes students beyond the classroom.
During the meal, we listened to a panel including both PR professionals and media journalists. This excited me especially, as a dual major in public relations and journalism. It was interesting to study the relationship between the two fields, as the two are interdependent on each other. It is undoubtedly a relationship that I will be directly involved with in the future, so I was glad to be given such helpful knowledge.
I also witnessed a panel about how to market yourself as a “millennial.” The panel gave advice on how to build relationships and market yourself in the field, taking steps like creating a LinkedIn account, being creative when reaching out to companies, and participating in PRSA events. It was a very encouraging discussion to participate in because, as students, we are often bombarded with information and instructions. There is an endless list of things that we need to do to be successful. It can be truly overwhelming and seemingly impossible—so I was relieved to receive additional guidance from professionals in the field.
By the end of the evening, I was saturated with more information than I knew what to do with. It was exhausting, but exciting. Professional Development Day left me eager to jump in to my PR classes and eventually a career as well. It was a fantastic experience, something of which I think all “millennials” like myself should take advantage. While I was inexperienced and mostly clueless on this go-around, I learned a lot and was exposed to more information than I could have even hoped for. I am looking forward to the next PRSSA event, for yet another beneficial learning experience.
Teghan Simonton is currently a freshman at Waynesburg University, pursuing a dual major in public relations and journalism. She holds the position of publicity chair for WUPRSSA and copy editor for the Mad Anthony Yearbook. She is also highly involved with the Yellow Jacket student newspaper. When she is not doing these things, she is running for Waynesburg’s Cross Country and Track teams.