On Wednesday morning, I returned from Washington D.C. I traveled to our nation’s capital for the 2014 Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) National Conference. I am the president of Western’s PRSSA chapter. You’re probably wondering what PRSSA does…this is a club for students wanting to go into public relations or who are interested in learning more about it. In PRSSA, we have speakers from the PR field come to every meeting and share their experiences in PR. We also organize and run campaigns for businesses and organizations.
When I tell classmates that I want to go into PR, a lot of times they don’t know what someone in PR does. A PR person is usually in charge of activities like running campaigns, writing press releases and using social media as a tool for an organization.
As for the conference, I spent five days in D.C. On the first night there, I attended a dinner and met other PRSSA members; we ate and mingled for awhile, and then we all danced the night away. The next day, the conference got underway and I attended back-to-back sessions featuring keynote speakers for the next three days. I went to a session called Causes and Concerns: Nonprofit PR. In this session, I listened to the Salvation Army’s National Director of Communications, Jennifer Byrd and Amnesty International’s Field Organizer, Savannah Fox. This session really inspired me to someday do PR for a nonprofit organization. I learned that you usually don’t make as much money in that industry, but the job is more rewarding. I want to love what I do and be excited to wake up for work every morning.
I also attended a session for chapter development which was held exclusively for PRSSA presidents; we broke into small groups and discussed challenges and solutions for our chapter. I now have so many ideas to build up our chapter; I can’t wait to implement them and see our chapter grow.
A session I went to that was very useful was called Rebooting Your Resume. I learned exactly how to make my resume stand out in the right ways. I can’t wait to edit my resume and put a little of my creative side into it.
The most important program or event I went to was the Career Development Exhibition, where I had the opportunity to network with many employers from PR agencies and corporations. We exchanged business cards and I gave them my resume. I never realized how many different PR agencies exist around the country. I was glad to see that I will have a lot of options in my future.
Of course I couldn’t go to Washington D.C. without going to see the White House. On my last day in D.C., I finally got to leave our hotel and do a little sight seeing. I took some pictures in front of the White House and in front of the Eisenhower Executive Office.
I finished off my last day in D.C. by going to my all-time favorite store, Forever 21. My mother should be proud of me because I restrained myself from buying the whole store and only bought a sweater.
I’d have to say my favorite part about being in D.C. was the incredible food. I am a sucker for dining out and I also loved having a Starbucks nearby. D.C. is a really great city. This trip was definitely a learning experience for me…and included many “firsts” for me. In fact, it was the first time I’ve ever traveled on an airplane. I had such a great experience that I’m already planning for next year’s National Conference. I’m so thankful that WIU offers opportunities to students like this one. Learning outside of the classroom and networking is just as important as working inside the classroom.