National Conference 2015

Member Spotlight | Author: Audrey Klackner

16 December 2015 Last month five University of Washington students flew to Atlanta for the largest gathering of public relations students in the country, aiming to bridge the gap between the classroom and the professional world.

Communication and public relations students from all over the country gathered in Atlanta for a four-day conference that was held November 6-10. The Public Relations Student Society of America’s (PRSSA) National Conference consisted of 32 sessions, 57 speakers and almost 1,200 students.

The conference is meant to build relationships, skills and help students learn about the industry from professionals in the field.

The students from the University of Washington’s PRSSA chapter, Thomas Nguyen Lorina Crain, Jonathan Cruz, Joyce Kian and Andrew Hill got the opportunity to go to Atlanta to network with professionals and bring back key takeaways for their campus chapter.

UW PRSSA chapter president, Thomas Nguyen, explained why these kinds of experiences are crucial to a student’s college experience.

 “I find conferences more valuable than any class I could take because you are meeting and learning from people who currently or have worked in the jobs/positions you want. These people have experience and are able to give relevant advice to help you along the way.”

When they arrived in Atlanta on Friday, the conference kicked off with an opening ceremony that was prom themed. Students joined in on dancing, dinner and mingling.

The next day began with keynote speaker, Scott Williamson, from Coca-Cola North America. Williamson was one of Nguyen’s favorite speakers.

“It was interesting to get insight on what it’s like to work for a powerhouse company such as Coca Cola and learning of the tips and tricks he has learned throughout the years. His stories and advice was inspiring and taught us lessons of how resilience and hard work pays off,” Nguyen said.

The rest of the national conference was packed with sessions where students got to chose what speakers they wanted to go to based on their interests. The five students from UW divided and conquered, attending different sessions to take notes and gather key points from each speaker. 

Overall one key takeaway Nguyen has learned from the two PRSSA conferences he has attended is not necessarily what he learned from the speakers, but what he’s learned from the connections he has made.

“PRSSA conferences have taught me how to connect with my peers, young professionals and those involved in the PRSA/PRSSA organization,” said Nguyen.

National conferences are not the only way students can make connections and network; UW’s PRSSA chapter serves as a tool for students on campus.

 “Students should take every opportunity they can to participate in conferences like this. If you go into it with an open mind, you learn a lot about what interests you,” said Lorina Crain, UW PRSSA webmaster.

PRSSA gives students an environment to learn about the communications and public relations field. Members get to network with each other and professionals.

“PRSSA is one of the few sources that allows me to learn more about public relations at the University of Washington. I am able to meet people who are also interested in the PR/marketing field,” said UW PRSSA director of marketing and advertising, Joyce Kian.

Members of the PRSSA chapter meet every other Wednesday for professional-development workshops. This quarter they have had Dave Barthmuss from General Motors; a young professional’s panel from Edelman, Weber Shandwick Seattle and Porter Novelli Seattle; Weber and Shandwick on the New World of PR; and an elevator pitch workshop.

“I recommend joining to anyone with an interest in writing, event planning, creativity, or who has a passion they aren’t sure how to incorporate into a career path yet. PRSSA will give you an opportunity to find a career that has the same values you value in yourself,” Crain said.