Aspiring public relations professionals take it to the next level

UNI PRSSA presents on networking

Members of UNI PRSSA present "Programming Your Way to
Being the Best Chapter in the Sea" as part of this year's
National Conference in Orlando.

The University of Northern Iowa Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapter is nationally recognized as a good regional networking chapter. The chapter members took it to the next level last week by networking at the PRSSA National Conference in Orlando, Fla.

UNI’s PRSSA Chapter has events throughout the year that allow members to network with local businesses, regional public relations professionals and fellow public relations students. The chapter was given the opportunity to present at this year’s national conference because of their outstanding networking abilities through the programs they offer for their members. The presentation entitled "Programming Your Way to Being the Best Chapter in the Sea," was given to peers and professionals in Florida, and was just one of the many ways chapter members got to network at a national level.

"The conference helped me determine what I want to get into for my career," said Carl Stessman, UNI senior and PRSSA vice president of programming. "I attended a media relations session and the presenter, Joseph Trahan of Trahan and Associates out of Georgia, talked with me for a bit and gave me his card and said, 'I'd like to help with anything, please feel free to contact me.'" Stessman said that was the best connection he has made at any of the three national conferences he has attended.

Students, Emily Holmes and Laura Rasmussen, present at National Conference

UNI's PRSSA student-run firm
PRide (Public Relations Interns Develop Expertise) president
Emily Holmes and vice-president
Laura Rasmussen present at
the National Conference
in Orlando, Fla.

All members attended sessions like the one Stessman went to. The session topics were varied including fashion, sports, crisis communication, international public relations and many others. Each session had at least one public relations professional that would answer questions and meet with members one-on-one after the presentation.

After the sessions were done for the day, PRSSA members from across the country were encouraged to network and get to know each other as a professional support system for everyone entering the public relations field. Business cards, phone numbers and Facebook friend requests were exchanged in hopes of building a larger network.

UNI junior and PRSSA secretary Jacky Phelan went to the conference with hopes of getting a better idea of what was expected of her professionally.

"I would like to return to the conference next year very much," said Phelan. "This year I mostly just got my feet wet, but I would like to return next year and really dive in. The conference provided me with more experience and allowed me to feel more comfortable around big name agencies and with people who may one day be interviewing me."

UNI graduate student and PRSSA vice president of communication Belle Du Chene met her best contact while standing outside the hotel. "He noticed my conference bag and asked what I wanted to go into. I told him and he turned out to be an executive from General Motors," Du Chene remembers. "We ended up talking for awhile and he critiqued my resume for me."

While networking with local and regional public relations professionals is good, the experience and confidence UNI PRSSA members gain by attending the National Conference every year is nothing short of great. Networking on a national level leads to more internship opportunities, careers options and professional contacts. UNI PRSSA members are now more prepared to take on the public relations field and more confident in themselves as professionals, all by taking it to the next level of networking.