Mary Henige is director of social and digital communications at General Motors; Wayne State University alum and the Professional Adviser for Wayne State PRSSA.
In fall 1984 I was a junior at WSU and aspiring public relations professional. A classmate convinced me to join PRSSA the day before the deadline. Cash isn’t something most Wayne students are flush with, and I was no different. I borrowed the registration money from my parents. That $45 was the best career investment I’ve made. (It’s only $50 now, plus local chapter dues – a bargain!).
My membership has served me well throughout the many stages of my career. From student; to new professional working for GM in Orlando, at Epcot Center; to chairing Detroit Chapter committees; as a board member and then president in 2003; to co-chair of the PRSA International Conference, which was held in Detroit, in 2008. The benefits and opportunities of PRSA membership will continue throughout your career.
I have made incredible contacts, found mentors, served the profession and others, and continue to learn. PRSSA is not a club, and it’s not just something you do while you’re at college. Many students never go on to PRSA after graduation. Unfortunately, that’s a real lost career opportunity. Membership in PRSSA means you’re affiliated with PRSA, the largest public relations professional organization in the U.S. with more than 20,000 members. For you, that means networking with future employers and colleagues, not to mention it gives you an edge over non members.
And, if you join – get active! Attend as many meetings as possible. Volunteer to assist PRSA-Detroit at an event, offer to write articles for Wayne’s Salute and PRSA-Detroit’s monthly Bulletin. While you’re on the Detroit Chapter site, be sure to check out the internships that are listed, which is a service for you! The opportunities to meet professionals, to learn, create work samples for your portfolios, and to serve both Wayne and the Detroit Chapters are endless.
My advice to you is to borrow the money if you have to, or give up soda, lattes or delay a clothing purchase to save the money – but join PRSSA. This will likely be one of your first and most beneficial careers decisions. I haven’t looked back once in my 27 years as a member.