This past weekend, I partook in PR Advanced, an annual conference hosted by the BU Public Relations Student Society of America as a participant and a member of the planning committee. Each year we bring together 200 students from across the United States (people came all the way from Ohio and Louisiana!) for a keynote speech, breakout sessions, a career panel, and a career fair. Our keynote speaker this year was unfortunately snowed in and unable to make it to the conference. But there to save the day were Kenneth Elmore, BU Dean of Students, and Professor Steve Quigley, PRSSA 2011 Educator of the Year, to fill in, offering students advice on where to take their careers. In this day and age, students have many options after graduation:
- Agency vs. Corporate
- Corporate vs. Government vs. Non-profit
- B2B (business to business) vs. B2C (business to consumer)
- Start-up vs. Established Company
And with so many options, PR students must understand the importance of culture and finding a niche where they feel comfortable. These motifs continued throughout the day. In the start-ups breakout session, BU alum Kris Ruby shared her story. Knowing her strengths and the market, she decided to take advantage of the changing field and started her own social media and PR firm. Tom O’Keefe a.k.a. Boston Tweet and Joseline Mane, co-founder of Boston TweetUp, shared how they are using social media to further their careers.
After lunch, student attended a career panel with representatives from across the field of communication. Brandi Boatner, an external relations professional at IBM, showed that B2B communication can be just as exciting as traditional B2C. And Mike DiSalvo (probably my favorite speaker of the day) from Ogilvy reminded students to have fun in an interview because that’s when you know the culture is a right fit for you.
Ending the day was the career fair. With a company as small as Ruby Media Group (four employees) to Burson-Marstellar, one of the largest international PR firms in the world, students had the opportunity to find out where they fit into the market.
As the career fair coordinator for the last two years, I have come to understand the importance of attending conferences and networking events like PR Advanced. Public relations is an ever changing field and the best advice you can get doesn’t come from a text book, it comes from the professionals who are in the thick of it all. And the business cards and potential future opportunities don’t hurt either. I highly suggest all students taking advantage PR Advanced in the future.