Interview with PRSSA 2010-2011 Executive Board
Position: Chapter President
Major: Communication Studies; Organizational Communication/Public Relations
Member Since: October 2008
I have always had a passion for organizations/teams. I’ve always been really active with school, community and sports growing up so it was naturally a fit for me to want to be part of a student organization at Wayne State. I started my PR career at Berg Muirhead, a Detroit-based PR agency located in the New Center, and they pointed me toward Wayne. It helped that my supervisor Peter Van Dyke graduated from WSU and served in PRSSA. Within my first month of classes, I emailed an executive board member and now close friend, Liz Trudeau to get involved. It was great timing because they were just about to host the “Driven to Distinction” PRSSA National Conference so I got to dive right in to the experience. I immediately realized it was a great way to grow professionally, make friends and learn the industry.
Why did you run for a leadership position on the executive board?
At the end of my first year at Wayne I decided to run for Vice President of Professional Development. I felt really comfortable with the knowledge I had of the community from working at BMA. I enjoy being part of organizations and knew a leadership position would give me great experience beyond just attending events and being an active member. This was a great way for me to help my peers and grow into a well-rounded professional.
What else have you done to prepare for your career?
The key word is preparation. I don’t think it was always a conscious effort but everything I did — by getting active on Twitter, LinkedIn and blogs to networking/communicating with people I’d meet through work, school events, etc. — it is all about preparation by gaining knowledge and through experiences.
Working at BMA for three years gave me so much insight into the PR world and helped understand that value. I don’t know how anyone can enter this career without experience. You have to intern, volunteer, freelance – – something! Just get experience because whether you love or hate the job, it’s a chance to learn and discover yourself.
How do you plan to use your knowledge and experience gained from the board in the real world?
I think the most valuable thing I will use is the challenges I’ve faced. No matter how difficult it can be at times to manage a student organization, work and be a student, I’ve made sure to always find a silver lining in things and make sure at the end of the day I know I’ve done my best each day. We’re all so busy and I think building relationships and having good communication is the most important tool/experience that can translate in to all aspects of your life.
What advice can you give for students who are looking to be more active in PRSSA?
I think students have to see the value in PRSSA if they want to be active. If students want to do something, they have to reach out to the board and see where they can help. This year we had students who weren’t able to commit to a board position but were very active throughout the year. The board spends a lot of time planning behind-the-scenes so it’s nice when students are involved and want to add their input and help the chapter succeed.
What was your favorite experience with PRSSA?
I think my favorite experience has been getting to build relationships with our members. It’s not easy to find a common ground with every single person when you are on a diverse commuter campus but I know PRSSA helps bring people together. The most rewarding part of being president is helping everyone find their place. This organization is huge and full of passion; it’s really nice to be part of something that can positively affect student’s careers.
How has PRSSA prepared you for a career in this field?
PRSSA is so big but the community and the connections you make just by beign active on Twitter or by attending events is paramount to any organization I know. Being part of the organization has helped connect me to local and national professionals and students around the country. I believe the experience on the board has helped me become a stronger leader and made me more confident as a professional.
I believe the key in any role within PRSSA is that you will truly get out of it what you put in to it.
What is your favorite quote?
“Be the change you wish to see in the world…” — Gandhi
“I always wanted a happy ending… Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity.” — Gilda Radner
What is your plan after graduation?
In February, I began my career at Lambert, Edwards & Associates, Michigan’s top-ranked public relations agency and the state’s largest investor relations firm, in Troy. I support the firm’s health care practice and plan to continue to grow and give back to the Wayne State and the Detroit community as a professional.
What advice do you have for students interested in public relations?
My best piece of advice for students is to never stop learning, being curious and take chances while using your moral compass as a guide. I think it’s easy to want to rush through school or just join an organization to say you’re a part of it but it’s what you get out of it that really values you later down the road.
Going to class, passing the exams — sure, that gets you a good grade but does it get you a job? Don’t be afraid to talk to your professors or reach out to your classmates to go above and beyond to learn. That’s what gets people a job these days, not only a degree.
You have to be willing to look outside the box and genuinely want to be part of something greater than yourself. Most importantly, remember that you’re a communications professional – start thinking like one early!
Communicate with everyone you meet, build relationships, figure out your story and ask questions. (Feel free to connect with me via Twitter and/or LinkedIn!)