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How Will You Impact the Future of Public Relations?

In anticipation of more than 3,000 public relations professionals, educators and students gathering in November for the PRSA 2009 International Conference and PRSSA 2009 National Conference in San Diego, the Public Relations Student Society of America is launching a month-long series of professional development opportunities to further connect college undergraduates with public relations professionals.

For more than 40 years, PRSSA has been helping students explore the field of public relations, enter the profession and, ultimately, succeed. As the world’s foremost pre-professional society for students interested in public relations — with more than 10,000 members at 303 colleges and universities in the United States and abroad — our mission is twofold: We enhance our student members’ knowledge of public relations and facilitate their access to professional development opportunities and, at the same time, advance the public relations profession by preparing knowledgeable, skilled and confident candidates for entry-level positions.

Beginning Oct. 1, PRSA and PRSSA members can undertake a variety of activities as part of PRSA/PRSSA Relationship Month. These initiatives will help PRSSA fulfill its mission and continue to enhance the mutually beneficial relationship between our organizations.

On the PRSSA Blog, we wrote about ways students can make the most of the month, but opportunities to participate aren’t limited to students. Here are four ways public relations professionals can take part:

  • Invite PRSSA members to a campaign or program brainstorm. PRSSA members will benefit greatly from participating in real-world research and planning. In return, you’ll receive the fresh perspective a student can lend and garner some free ideas along the way. You might also use a client or organizational scenario to stage a case study competition — students are always looking for ways to expand their portfolios and test their skills.
  • Attend a PRSSA Chapter meeting. Students appreciate meeting, talking to and learning from industry professionals. Plus, it gives you a chance to meet potential interns and employees in your market, so don’t forget to talk about opportunities at your company and the best way to apply.
  • Invite PRSSA members to PRSA events. Welcoming students into your local professional community is a great way to help them build their networking skills and acclimate to professional settings.
  • Participate in reverse mentoring. Mentoring is generally seen as a way to help future professionals, but today’s students have a great deal to offer seasoned practitioners … from pop culture familiarity to technological savvy to social media competency. It’s important to remember that these relationships are mutually beneficial: Don’t be afraid to take — as well as give — suggestions and advice.

Even the seemingly simple step of taking a student out for coffee is valuable for both parties. Not only will you be able to share information based on your practice specialty, organizational setting and work experiences, but PRSSA members can reciprocate by sharing their generational outlook on work and life. Chances are, each individual will be surprised by what he/she learns.

The students of PRSSA represent the future of our profession. While we can supplement their classroom education through professional development, leadership experience and member-only access to internships, scholarships and mentors, we cannot offer them the wit and wisdom that comes with years of professional experience. This is where we need your help.

Although we’re students for now, we’ll soon be your colleagues, clients and partners. This is your chance to impact the future of our profession.

Nick Lucido is vice president of professional development for PRSSA and a student at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich. He is pursuing bachelor’s degrees in public administration and advertising, with a public relations specialization.

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