This past week, I was fortunate to attend the PRSSA National Conference in Austin, Texas. It was a great experience, but truth be told, National Conference is a big investment. It costs a lot of money (which I was shocked to find out that most other schools helped pay) and it’s a big time investment. I had to miss four days of classes. Missing classes is extremely difficult and professors are not always willing to let you makeup class assignments (mine did not). So with as much time and money you have to spend, why should you invest in National Conference?
Networking, networking, networking. You hear it all the time. Going to PRSSA gives you amazing opportunities to network with people from all over the world. I cannot tell you how many business cards I received and how many new connections I made on LinkedIn. Not only does it give you great networking opportunities, but it’ll also improve your networking skills. Networking is something that’s always intimidated me. I mean what does that word even mean? At National Conference I was able to network with so many different types of people that it literally became a confidence booster for my networking skills. I enjoyed being able to network with other students because it was great practice for when it was time to talk to professionals. When it comes down to it, networking is really just talking to people and making connections. It doesn’t have to be this big scary thing. And remember, network with other students! You never know where a connection can get you, so don’t write off your peers just because you don’t consider them “professionals.”
PRSSA offers so many unique and interesting sessions during the conference, and YOU get to choose the ones you attend! The speakers were incredible and I learned everything from Crisis Communication to Data Analytics. One of my favorite sessions was called “InterVIEW your Strengths and Weaknessess.” The speaker, Jane Dvorak, was hilarious but also extremely knowledgeable. Up there with networking, I’m not a big fan of interviews, but this session provided so much advice that I’m actually excited to try it out in my next interview.
At one of the sessions, the speaker said, “You are all PR professionals. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not because you are students.” I absolutely loved that. I’ve never thought of myself as a professional before, but I am and so are you! Just because you may not have as much experience as the person sitting next to you doesn’t mean you’re any less of a professional than they are. Going to the PRSSA National Conference was a huge confidence booster for me. As I mentioned earlier, I feel much more confident in my interview and networking skills, but I also feel more confident about the field in general. I gained tons of knowledge about the PR world as well as about myself as a professional. Not only that, but National Conference really solidified how proud I am to be a Strategic Communication major at Ohio State. I feel like sometimes there is a stigma toward comm majors at OSU, especially since it is a much bigger school for engineering and business. I’ve heard from several of my peers, “Oh you’re a communication major, isn’t that really easy?” or “That’s what all the football players major in because they’re not here for school.” Hearing that is upsetting, especially for someone like me who was extremely proud to get into Ohio State’s communication program. But, National Conference made me realize none of that is true. PR and communication is a competitive and time-consuming field. It is one of the best degrees you can possibly get because it’s so flexible. I am proud to be comm major, and you should be too!
If nothing else, going to Austin for National Conference gave me new experiences and new friends. I didn’t know any of the other girls who were signed up for conference from OSU but now I have four awesome new friends from our PRSSA chapter. Shout out to you guys for making National Conference a blast! None of us had been to Austin before, but we had so much fun exploring together. Some highlights were getting authentic Texas barbecue, visiting Austin Central Library, and trying Voodoo Donuts. Next year, PRSSA National Conference is in San Diego! Imagine how much fun that’s going to be!
Hopefully after reading this, you’ll consider investing in the PRSSA National Conference next year because I promise you won’t regret it.
Rachel Rothstein is a Junior majoring in Strategic Communications and minoring in Psychology. She is an Account Executive at The Practice, a member of PRSSA, a mentor for College Mentor for Kids and enjoys attending weekly Chaarg meetings. Rachel hopes to pursue a career in Public Relations or Marketing.