Yohanna Videki, PRSSA Vice President of Fundraising
September 16, 2014
When I enrolled at UVU, my goal was to prepare myself to go to dental school. I met with a pre-dental advisor and started my preparation immediately. Then almost midway through that preparation process, I discovered the Public Relations program, and found out that a career in Public Relations is as exciting and challenging as being a dentist. So I made the transition into PR! I think the principle of making a plan and executing it applies to being a PR student. We need to be competitive, market ourselves, participate in extra-curricular activities, and stand out from other PR applicants. I know it sounds overwhelming, so how do we do it? How can we manage all the extra-curricular activities with all the student responsibilities we already have? What worked for me was applying a detailed ‘master plan’ that I developed when I was preparing to go to dental school and apply this same concept to the PR program. Here is the list:
1. Cultivate the habit of visiting with your advisor to help you plan your courses two or three semesters in advance. This way, you can see a better picture of where all your other activities are going to fit. Keep in mind that you can always revisit this plan with your advisor if you need to make any changes.
2. Find a mentor! This person can be a student, a professor, a professional in the field of PR, or somebody that you admire a lot. Listen to his/her advice and take action. A mentor will motivate you and give you an energy boost when you only are halfway up ‘PR Mountain’. My mentor was Professor Farah Sanders, someone I admire a lot. If you have met her, you know she is a very confident woman, smart, and clever. Her advice was what kept me moving forward toward my goal. http://www.uvu.edu/profpages/profiles/show/user_id/831
3. Research the PR industry so you have an idea what skills you need to develop. Know which skills do you already have and which skills you would like to perfect. There are many ways to do this, and I recommend using as many resources as possible to do your PR research. In PR, remember that everything relates to everything. For example, you could attend a PRSA luncheon to learn from professionals around the industry and grow your network at the same time. Navigate the PRSA website to strengthen your research and you will find valuable information and free articles like this: http://www.prsa.org/Intelligence/Tactics/Articles/view/6C-120904/1005/Career_Corner_What_PR_Leaders_Look_for_in_Job_Cand
4. Join PRSSA! We can help you take advantage of opportunities during your education that you would not be able to have otherwise. Some PRSSA students obtain a grant to attend PRSSA national and regional conferences, some get local PR field experience, and all receive focused mentoring (to mention a few).
5. During your sophomore year, shadow a PR professional and keep a journal of what you observe and learn during that time. When I was preparing for dental school, I was expected to perform 50 to 100 hours of shadowing (see Extracurricular Activities): http://www.uvu.edu/prehealth/programs/dental/
Set the same goal for your education and shadow some PR professionals. Your sophomore year is the time to start getting involved with your PRSSA chapter. You could volunteer in a committee and develop skills such as event planning, advocacy, or managing social media. In this year of your program study, apply for your first internship during the summer.
6. While being a junior, continue attending PRSA Luncheons to continue expanding your knowledge about the industry and grow your network. Get leadership experience; one way to do this is by running for a PRSSA presidency position. This year is the time to apply for your second internship during the summer.
7. As a senior, continue expanding your network. Educate yourself about any new trends in the PR industry, and apply for another internship.
To be competitive and to stand out from other PR applicants, remember that this not only depends on the classes you are required to take, but on the extra-curricular activities in which you participate. An organized personal ‘master plan’ will help you to get the most out of your education. You’ll be unique and marketable when seeking a job. Public relations is a challenging career, but you will be successful if you stay current, constantly educating yourself and staying up-to-date.