By: Shannon Sneade
The bustling city streets of Boston gained quite a few visitors during the week of the PRSSA 2017 National Conference. I was fortunate to be among the crowd that strolled through tall buildings encasing changing fall leaves as we made our way to sessions that would teach us about the field we would soon be entering.
The lessons I learned during my four-day visit spanned far past the behavioral differences between east and west coast dwellers. It gave me tangible objectives to secure a guaranteed spot as a new PR professional.
New Pros Drop Truth Bombs
The first morning of the conference, I looked through sleepy eyes (thanks to jet lag) at the Dunkin’ Donuts menu for the first time, clueless as to what I should order. That same unfamiliar confusion can be applied to how many of us graduating students feel when navigating what to look for in a future job. Thankfully, PRSA gathered an entire network of people, the PRSA New Pros, to teach a conference session on what they learned from their first few years in the field.
The main lesson the PRSA New Pros addressed was calculated confidence. While they cautioned eager millennials, like myself, not to be the “hero” of the workplace, they conceded that we will be hired for a reason; our future workplaces want to know our skills and our unique perspectives.
There were tidbits of insightful advice flying from every direction of the room, but one stuck out to me in particular.
“You only get to be in an entry-level job once,” PRSA New Pro Chad Furst said. “That responsibility is coming, and embrace it when it does, but enjoy where you are now.”
Perhaps this resonated with me because of my overachieving nature, and perhaps it reminded me of a mantra I believe to be vital to our personal happiness — be mindful and content in the present moment.
Failure is an option and it’s…good?
Michael DiSalvo of Ogilvy and filmmaker Morgan Spurlock have two things in common: they captivate an audience with their humor and they’ve failed… a lot. They encourage us to do the same. DiSalvo taught us how to make a creative career out of just about any job position and to be fearless no matter what. He speculated all the possibilities with us. What if you get rejected? Great, he told us, keep failing. It means you’re closer to your goals than before.
Spurlock, a speaker at the PRSA general session, tells us about the times he failed to garner support for his projects and even personal goals. His perseverance won every situation in the end and taught him more about himself than the successes.
“Everyone wants to be first to be second,” Spurlock said — referring to people finally joining the bandwagon of his ideas.
The two men’s personal anecdotes and accomplished careers convinced me to embrace the word “no” as a stepping stone. No matter what, though, DiSalvo says to let your persona shine through every facet of your work.
“Experience gets you in the door, but personality gets you a job,” DiSalvo said.
Every moment of the weekend was filled with motivating, fire-igniting information that made me determined to fill my last semesters of college with intentional professional development. And so, I will. I never dreamed that my major choice would lead me to such a dynamic field filled with the most compassionate, social professionals, but I’m sure glad it did.
In the true spirit of PR, I will look for opportunities to give the community and PRSSA the opportunities and hope for the future they have given to me throughout my college career. In the meantime, I’ll be connecting with my new PR best friends from around the country on LinkedIn and dreaming of firms I will someday have the opportunity to collaborate with.