October 21, 2014
By: Jess Carnprobst @jess_carnprobst
Last week, I attended my second PRSSA National Conference in Washington DC. Last year I attended PRSSANC in Philadelphia, and I’ve also been to two PRSSA Regional Conferences, making this fourth conference overall. With these experiences under my belt, I have countless notes in my notebook, new connections on social media and new career ideas in my head. Most importantly, after each conference I learn something new about myself. These are the biggest reasons I believe every college student should attend at least one national conference.
Make your connections personal
I know how important it is to network with the person who can help you get the dream internship or job, but it’s important to see past what they can do for you. When you’re meeting new people (and you’ll meet hundreds) find a connection with them. It doesn’t need to be PR related, but find a way to make your connections personal and worthwhile.
Question your career path
This is the best time for to question your career path! Question every single goal or idea you have. It’s ok not to know. You’ll be sitting in so many sessions throughout the duration of the conference, learning about so many topics you never knew were a possibility in PR. Now is the best time to think big and continue developing your goals. Conferences are made to help you decide where you want to go and what you want to do.
Step outside of your comfort zone
Going off of my last point, you’ll get the most out of your time at your conference if you step out of your comfort zone. Attend sessions that seem different, interesting or something you know nothing about, and just see what you learn. When you attend a conference you’re probably in a different city. Take the time to go sight seeing and go on adventures you’ve never been on. Sometimes you can learn just as much by exploring on your own as you would at the actual conference. The two go hand and hand to teach you about your career as well as about yourself.
It’s so easy to forget to make that LinkedIn connection or send the email you promised when you get back home. Don’t let yourself do this. Whether it takes an annoying alarm or a spot on your to do list, follow through with the promises you made at the conference.
It’s not always about listening to the speakers, but it is about growing as a professional. While you’re there, follow these steps while adding some of your own to maximize your experience. Take advantage of conferences and go to as many as you can, because they’re an experience of a lifetime.