“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”
With December just around the corner, you might be thinking this is about the joy that is the Christmas season. On the contrary, I am actually referring to the most wonderful time of the year in the world of PRSSA: National Conference.
A few weeks ago, seven Chapter members and I traveled to Atlanta, Georgia, to attend the PRSSA 2015 National Conference: Rethink, Rebuild, Renew. This was my fifth national event for the society, so I had an upper hand in knowing what the long-weekend conference had in store for me. However, this experience was unlike any other.
Maybe it was because I was a conference veteran. Maybe it was because I knew this would be my last National Conference. Whatever the reason(s), the event will hold a special place in my heart. Here are a few reasons why:
This comes as no surprise. This year, we heard from a wide array of industry specialists who were some of the best speakers I have had the privilege of listening to in my pre-professional career. From the Vice President of Public Affairs and Communication at Coca-Cola to the Communications Manager at General Motors, the conference was jam-packed with innovative and enticing presenters. Their knowledge of the field and words of wisdom allowed me to think beyond the classroom setting. I learned how to improve my writing skills, build personalized experiences for a targeted audience and effectively transition into the real world as a college graduate. All in all, the sessions this year were truly engaging and opened my eyes of the importance of public relations practitioners in any organization.
This one is quite arguably the best thing that comes out of a PRSSA conference. Let’s set the scene: you are in a brand new city, living in a hotel for five days attending a conference with approximately 1,500 students who are pursing a job in the same career field as you and can connect with you on both a personal and professional level. How could you not become friends with someone?
While at the conference, you have endless opportunities to talk to each other about public relations, your respective chapter or firm, internship experiences or even day-to-day triumphs and struggles we as communication students all go through. It is a one-of-a-kind bonding experience, and I loved every minute of it. I have made some incredible friendships during my time at PRSSA conferences; ones that I can confidently say will stay with me for the rest of my life.
If you would ask any one of us that attended National Conference what our favorite memory was, I bet we could not just give you one. From rewriting the lyrics of “Uptown Funk” for our Chapter Roll Call to touring the Coca-Cola factory, the memories we created as a group are countless and unforgettable.
However, I can say that one of my favorite memories was getting the opportunity to bond with the other seven Chapter members. National Conference is not only a time to grow individually as a public relations professional, but also a time to strengthen your Chapter and relationships with fellow members as a whole. My friendships with the other members have grown significantly since Atlanta, and I could not be more thankful for that.
Although reflecting on the 2015 National Conference comes with some sad thoughts for me, knowing it was my last conference as a PRSSA member, it also brings me a sense of joy. These happy thoughts make me proud to call myself a Waynesburg University PRSSA Chapter member. I took home with me not only business cards and informational packets about graduate programs, but also an entirely new outlook on the industry and a redefined passion for the career I want to get in to. On top of all of that, I left Atlanta with friendships and memories that I will cherish forever.
Jordan Mitrik is a senior public relations major with a marketing minor. He serves as the firm director of Red Brick Communications as well as the vice president of Waynesburg University PRSSA. Interested in various areas of public relations, he plans to become an established PR professional in the Pittsburgh market upon graduation.