Interview with PRSSA 2010-2011 Executive Board
Name: Erica Rogers
Position: Vice President of Professional Development
Major: Public Relations; Honors
Member Since: 2008
How did you become a part of PRSSA?
When I thought that I might be interested in becoming a public relations major, I spoke with the then-president, who suggested I attend a PRSSA meeting. I instantly connected with the organization, and I knew that PR and PRSSA would be a perfect fit for me. I became an active member, participating in meetings, events, and local campaigns. The following year I was elected into a position on the executive board, and I’ve been here ever since.
Why did you run for a leadership position on the executive board?
I knew that PRSSA offered opportunities and experiences that I wasn’t going to find anywhere else. I also knew that if I wanted to stand out, and get as much PR experience as possible, I needed to do more. Becoming part of the executive board was nerve wracking, and I knew that it would require a lot of responsibility. However, I recognize that when I first became a member, the leaders of the chapter were there to help me, and I feel I owe it to other members in similar positions to do the same.
What other things have you done to prepare for your career?
Throughout college, I’ve tried to take advantage of a diverse range of opportunities that will make me a well-rounded PR graduate. I was the Public Relations intern at the Detroit Institute of Arts for one year. I was a Peer Network Engagement intern for Hillel of Metro Detroit, which is a Jewish-based student group on campus. I was also a Legislative intern this past summer in Senator Carl Levin’s Washington, D.C. office.
Aside from being an executive board member, PRSSA has allowed me to have many other PR experiences. One of the experiences I’m most proud of is competing with three other PRSSA members against other chapters in Michigan to plan a PR campaign for Lutheran Social Services of Michigan (LSSM). We won the proposal, and the following school year, I led a team of our members as we implemented our campaign for LSSM.
How do you plan to use your knowledge and experience gained from the board in the real world?
Being on the executive board has been one of the most valuable components of my college career. I’ve learned things that just cannot be taught in the classroom, and I’ve gained skills that I never imagined I’d have as a soon-to-be college graduate.
Learning how to be in a leadership position has been an amazing experience for me. I’ve gained so much confidence, and I’ve learned to trust myself. I don’t hesitate to suggest ideas that I think people would benefit from. I’m not afraid to sound weird, or have people reject my ideas. I’ve learned that it’s just simply a part of life, and for every rejected idea there is also a successful idea.
It’s not always easy to work in a team, but it’s worth it. Being on the board has taught me to be patient and have an open mind. When working so closely with five other people, you quickly realize that it is crucial to adapt to different personalities. I am confident that my ability to adapt will serve me well through my career in the real world.
What advice can you give for students who are looking to be more active in PRSSA?
Don’t be afraid to participate! It’s easy to become discouraged, or think that you need more experience before participating in PRSSA, and that isn’t at all true. Take advantage of every opportunity that time allows you, because you’ll learn something new each time.
What was your favorite experience with PRSSA?
I’ve already mentioned the confidence that I’ve gained as a PR student and as a leader through PRSSA. However, PRSSA really has become my family. My best friends at school are all through PRSSA. I’ve devoted so much time to being a part of the organization, and because of that, PRSSA’s impact on my life has gone so far beyond just the organization. The organization is a hub for all different types of students who have a shared interest in the world of communication to get together and learn from one another. To me, that is invaluable, and something that will stay with me forever.
How has PRSSA prepared you for a career in this industry?
Graduating can be scary, and often, people don’t know what to expect in the real world. PRSSA has taught me what to expect. I’ve been inside countless public relations offices and agencies, and I’ve seen how they operate. I’ve built relationships with local PR professionals whom I have learned so much from. I’ve learned about the different types of public relations career paths, and I’ve seen how many different types of jobs you really can excel at with a PR degree. I don’t feel like I’m graduating and blindly entering the industry, and I really credit that to PRSSA.
What is your favorite quote?
I’m always inspired by the quote, “This is your world. Shape it or someone else will.” It reminds me that ultimately, I am the one who is in control of my life. The actions that I take, or fail to take, directly affect my life. I want to be the one shaping my world, and I strive every day to do so.
What is your plan after graduation?
I haven’t yet decided what I will do after graduation. I will be pursuing a job in the public relations/communications industry, and I’m excited to embark on the next journey in my life.
What advice can you give to students interested in public relations?
Try everything! Apply for internships that come your way, volunteer for opportunities that interest you, and talk to people that you wouldn’t normally talk to. There is so much to learn, and public relations truly has so much to offer. So many PR professionals say that in the industry, there is never a “typical” day. Keep that in mind, and make sure that even as a student, you’re doing something new and different every day.
College goes by quicker than you could ever imagine. I can’t believe that I will be graduating in several weeks. Don’t take any day for granted. College is the time for you to soak up information that will shape who you become once you graduate. Don’t just wait for your college years to pass—take initiative and learn all that there is to know.