For those outside the PR community who don’t know, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) is a very well-known national professional organization for practitioners in the communication field. Phoenix has a successful and active chapter. Since my freshman year, I’ve been involved with the student chapter (PRSSA) at Arizona State University. Although meetings have moved to the Downtown campus along with the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and are now much harder to attend, I think my involvement with this organization throughout my college career has been extremely valuable – particularly in my freshman and sophomore years.
Because the Cronkite school previously had a system in which students could only apply to the professional program for their junior years, I didn’t take “real” public relations classes until then. My involvement with PRSSA taught me the basics of PR and assured me that I was truly in the correct major. As a result of attending various seminars, listening to speakers at meetings and attending the PRSSA National Conference all prior to my junior year, I was much more prepared for my upper level classes and better connected with the Phoenix PR community than the typical PR student. In fact, I held two internship positions before even being accepted to the professional program – neither of which I would have ever known about without membership in PRSSA.
I even owe meeting my best friend and current roommate to PRSSA.
I just found out that International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), another organization for communication professionals with an active Phoenix chapter, offers student memberships. I sent in my membership application form and payment today, and it made me reflect on the value of these organizations. They truly are worth every penny, and I know the networking opportunities will continue to be invaluable as I grow closer and closer to the job hunt.