My Experience as a PR Student

21 May

A year ago I had never heard of PRSSA, or Public Relations Student Society of America, and today I am a very active member in my Chapter. My involvement with PRSSA started in September 2009, but I was not nearly as involved as I should have been. I had recently changed my major to public relations and heard about a PRSSA meeting during one of my classes. I decided to go to one of the first meetings of the semester, but I was so incredibly busy with many other things that I stopped attending meetings. I must say though, that was one of the worst decisions I have made!

I quickly decided that my one and only New Year’s resolution would be to become more involved with PRSSA in the spring semester. My decision for this came when I really started conducting research and discovered that being involved with this wonderful organization is a great idea. There are so many opportunities that appear when you become involved PRSSA. The steps I chose to take to get a head-start over Christmas break was contacting the current president, @laurenkgray. When classes started back in the spring I actually ended up running for a board position because a few students had graduated in the fall. I landed the PR Jobs and Internships Director position and I took it very seriously.

Being on the board helped me gain valuable experience that I can carry with me in the future. I developed a leadership role throughout the semester which has really been an advantage to me. While there were many chances to attend awesome conferences, I was only able to go to one, which was the PR Real World Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. This was a GREAT conference and I strongly encourage each and every one of you to go next year! It was the first conference I ever attended and I was able to network with people from MS&L, Ketchum, Porter Novelli, and many other well known companies. Networking is key in this expanding field, and after attending the conference I can see why! I was also able to attend four sessions, my favorite being one on social media.

Not only did I get involved with PRSSA, but I also became heavily involved with Catamount Communications, or CatCom, the student-run PR firm at Western Carolina University. I joined two campaigns and I was also able to help out with another campaign by co-hosting a social media class with @laurenkgray and @g_m_richardson. By working with CatCom, I was able to enhance the public relations skills I had learned in class and apply them to real world clients. I was also able to further develop my interpersonal skills by working in teams of three to six members. Catamount Communications has given me many great opportunities and I am very excited that I decided to join.

The experiences I have gained with PRSSA and CatCom will stick with me forever. Being involved has motivated me to apply for leadership positions within the organizations. I ran for the position of WCU PRSSA Vice President after our last meeting this semester and I received it for the 2010-2011 school year. I feel like I would not have had a chance to be the vice president of our Chapter if I had not been as actively involved as I was. I also applied to be the firm director of Catamount Communications for the 2010- 2011 school year and I received that position as well. Currently I am working on a plan to get more student involvement at our firm for the future.

Being involved with CatCom and PRSSA has also landed me two great internships this summer. One of the internships is with the Good Samaritan Clinic that is located in Waynesville, NC. The Good Samaritan Clinic was a campaign I was working on with CatCom this past spring when I heard about the internship. I let the director of the clinic know that I was interested and I landed the position. The other internship I have is with the Jackson County Green Energy Park. I am their very first intern and I have loved every second of it!  I found out about this internship through my faculty advisor for CatCom and PRSSA.

My advice to students is to get out there and get involved! Everything that I have discussed in this blog happened to me throughout one semester of being ACTIVELY involved with PRSSA and CatCom. You may become a “member” of your Chapter and pay the dues, but in my eyes a person is not truly a “member” until they are actually involved. Go to conferences, work on campaigns, apply for leadership positions, and so forth. Something that has also benefited me by being involved is how built-up my resume is now. If you have the sources of becoming involved, why not do it? ESPECIALLY if it is going to affect your future in a positive way. Imagine how much more I could have accomplished if I had continued going to meetings in the fall of 2009. You decide! It is only your future after all.

You can follow me on Twitter at @amfunderburk1. I always look forward to engaging with fellow PR future pros and pros! You can also stay up-to-date with what is going on with CatCom and the WCU PRSSA Chapter by following: @CatComWCU and @WCUPRSSA. Thanks!

One Response to “My Experience as a PR Student”

  1. Ashley May 21, 2010 at 9:31 pm #


    Thank you so much for letting me write a guest post for you! Can’t wait to host you as a guest to my blog! 🙂

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