Five Unforgettable Lessons I Learned from PRSSA
By Jessica Pineda
Getting involved in CSUF PRSSA was the best investment I made to prepare for a career in communications. Two years later, the skills I developed and people I met from PRSSA have helped me create media magic at a prominent entertainment brand in my first post-graduation role and work on campaigns in my current position at a leading global communications marketing firm.
While I learned a lot during my time in PRSSA, these lessons were among my most notable takeaways, which continue to make a large impact in my professional journey:
Great things never came from comfort zones.
The concept of networking seemed intimidating at first, but PRSSA helped it become second nature. Leading up to my first mixer with our PRSA Parent Chapter, I ramped up my confidence by introducing myself to fellow Chapter members and guest speakers, who are more than happy to chat. Over time, I gained the courage to attend a professional networking event alone, which eventually led to an internship opportunity.
Define your personal brand.
My first set of business cards arrived a week before I left for PRSSA National Conference. Among all the inspiring lessons and panels, my biggest key learning was the importance of developing a personal brand and “elevator pitch.” They came in handy when introducing myself to attendees and reps from top agencies/employers.
It’s a small world after all.
At its core, public relations is about building meaningful relationships – not only with press but clients, peers and mentors too – which naturally makes the professional community very close-knit. I was surprised to learn that my leaders from two separate internships knew each other. Not to mention, our CSUF PRSSA alumni network spans across country and a variety of industries (not all of us pursue media relations!).
You get out of it what you put into it.
Preface: This goes for any organization or anything in life, honestly.
Having “PRSSA Member” on a resume may capture attention, but the real value comes from investment. The membership itself didn’t make the difference on my applications – what I learned from participating in events, networking and serving on the Executive Board did. Some members said they didn’t have the time, but there are countless opportunities to get involved and carving just 30 minutes to connect with someone new adds to the experience.
It all works out in the end.
It was inevitable; the “What am I going to do after graduation?!” crisis was in full swing during my last semester at CSUF. Thankfully, our Chapter advisers, professors and past members were wonderful mentors, reviewing my resume and sharing helpful advice, during the senior year job scramble. Going through the process with fellow members also made it significantly less daunting.
About Jessica Pineda
Twitter: @jesipineda | LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/pinedaj/
Jessica Pineda is a communications marketing professional, currently living in the San Francisco Bay Area and working in technology public relations at Edelman. She graduated from the CSUF College of Communications in 2015 and served as the Publicity Director for Cal State Fullerton PRSSA during her senior year. After graduation, she completed a year-long PR internship at the Disneyland Resort. When she isn’t brainstorming story angles, Jessica is likely to be found taking photos wherever she goes.