By: Ashley Whaples (@awhap_7)
PRSSA National Conference allows students from all over the country to particpate in building their networks with professionals while attending workshops and chapter development sessions. This year it was held Oct. 25-29 in downtown Philadelphia. While each day had several workshops, here are a few highlights.
The event kicked off Saturday morning with the keynote address from General Motors Company Director of Social Media and Digital Communications Mary Henige. We heard Henige speak on the importance of “building your network,” and how to be a continual learner. With her expertise of 27 years at GMC, she answered tweets from PRSSA members in the audience.
Following the keynote, a few of us attended the Fashion, Arts, Music and Entertainment (F.A.M.E) workshop. Nicole Garner, who is the founder of The Garner Circle, spoke on the importance of carrying out the public relations four-step process when conducting a campaign. Her energy kept the audience wanting to learn more about her successes and tips on working at an agency.
On Sunday, we took a two-hour drive into the city that never sleeps—NYC. Once we arrived, we headed for Times Square, then hit up Chinatown and Ground Zero. It was incredible to see the amount of lights, tourists, building structures and life the city had. To my surprise, in a city where I thought I’d feel so small, I actually felt important, like I had a purpose when I walked those streets. We soaked in all that NYC had to offer before heading back to Philadelphia for another day of networking.
The next day we were able to meet with people from corporations and agencies from around the nation to learn about potential opportunities. Each place had its own table, which made it easy to share resumes with businesses and talk with employers.
Next, we attended the “Juggling: Life at an Agency” workshop with three PRSA professionals including Joe Clarkson from Taylor Strategy, Jessica Noonan from Burson-Marsteller and Nick Lucido from Edelman Digital. Each spoke of their experiences and explained the multiple responsibilities and time that go into working at an agency and what it takes in this industry to be successful. The panel opened it up to the audience for questions, as well as advised us to make sure we follow up with them.
During the ceremony and dinner, it was announced that UW Oshkosh took honorable mention for NODAC and won the Teahan Chapter Development award, the only school to receive two awards. Chapter President Hilary Stoeberl said she was thrilled when they announced the chapter’s name. “It was a real honor and privilege to receive such a competitive, recognized award,” Stoeberl said. “To know all of our time, effort and hard work paid off is the most amazing feeling.”
While most of the workshops took up our days, we were able to explore Philadelphia and what it had to offer. We were able to eat the infamous philly cheese-steak, and indulge at dinner spots like the Hardrock Cafe and Raw, a seafood restaurant just blocks from our hotel. We made sure to see the “Love” sign, as well as the historic liberty bell before leaving Philadelphia.
National Conference proved to be an amazing experience packed with memories that I, as well as my classmates, can build on in the future. The experience allowed us to truly learn what this PR life is all about.
Read more of Ashley’s blog posts on her site, Keep Smiling Beautiful Girl.