In retrospect, I may not be the most stellar example of a PRSSA alumna. Don’t get me wrong; I was a pretty involved member while I was in college. I joined CSUF’s Chapter when I was a freshman, and throughout my four years as an undergrad I was on a committee and served as the Chapter’s vice president for two terms.
However, my current job isn’t in public relations. I can’t remember the last time I’ve touched a media list or wrote a press release. In fact, while my job mostly involves social media, it’s more from a *gasp* advertising perspective. (Say it ain’t so!) But I do work for a pretty cool company that does some pretty cool stuff, if I do say so myself.
When all is said and done, I can definitely say that PRSSA set me up for success at “adulting” and my professional life. I didn’t end up doing PR after I graduated, but I cannot express enough how PRSSA helped me regardless. Here are five different ways that being in PRSSA boosted – no pun intended – my career:
- Built my (somewhat palpable) networking skills
I’m an introvert by nature. It’s easy to tell that networking isn’t my favorite activity. Part of me would rather be swallowed up by a giant hole in the ground than have to go in a room full of strangers and make “small talk.” Lucky me, with PRSSA there were plenty of opportunities to be stuck in large rooms with a ton of strangers. In this case though, the stakes were low. Better to sheepishly discuss the weather with a fellow student than act a fool in front of the bigwig from your dream company. Am I now a networking guru? No, far from it. But I can go up to another loner and break the ice by asking if they feel as awkward as I do right now. (Most of the time it’s a pretty effective icebreaker.)
- Gave me access to internships
Fun fact: I was able to land both of the internships I had as an undergrad because of my involvement in PRSSA. For my first internship, my prospective boss was a speaker at one of my Chapter’s events, so I was able to introduce myself and put a face to the name. Also, the intern before me was actually on my Chapter’s executive board. From her, I was able to learn about the internship and get tips on the skills needed to shine in the role. As for my second internship, I met someone at an OCPRSA event who then told me that her agency was looking for an intern. The internship listing wasn’t even posted online! (See? Awkward small talk can come in handy!)
- Let me hear from world-class talent and professionals
As a working adult, conferences are EXPENSIVE…way pricier than your Chapter’s annual membership fee. Despite that astonishing price difference, the knowledge imparted from the Chapter’s speaker events are worth no less. Take advantage of the fact that your executive board gathers tons of smart and talented people on your campus that are honestly on par with any fancy professional conference. While I was in PRSSA, I had the privilege to attend panels with speakers from Taco Bell, the Walt Disney Company, Warped Tour and more. In the words of Hamilton: An American Musical, “do not throw away your shot.”
- Gave me a sense of community
Yeah, yeah…I can see your eyes rolling through your phone or computer screen right now, but hear me out. I probably gained as much insight through other PRSSA members as I did our guest speakers. Older members were able to warn me beforehand about our major’s public relations capstone course. (It WILL consume your life for a semester, whether you like it or not.) I was able to commiserate over the job-hunting struggle with my peers after meetings, and I coordinated schedules with my PRSSA friends to take classes with them. Heck, I still hang out with a lot of these friends today! It’s not that often that you’re surrounded by tons of people your age with the same interests, so hold on to it while you can.
- Kept my mind open for opportunities
When I was in high school, I had the pleasure of attending several leadership seminars from a motivational speaker named Scott Lang. One of his mantras was, “The more you give, the more you get. But the more you get, the more you have to give.” This statement has stuck with me ever since and followed me through college and my professional life.
When I joined PRSSA, I was so motivated to get involved that I sought out opportunities like no other. (I stuck to our executive board like an over-eager puppy.) It led me to become a member of our regional conference committee when I was a sophomore, and that exposure helped me get elected to the Chapter’s executive board my junior and senior years. Yes, it was a lot of hard work and took up a lot of my time, but it also opened so many doors. It gave me access to opportunities I wouldn’t have had otherwise. Even though I currently don’t have a job in public relations, the experiences I had and the lessons I learned go far beyond any career field.
About Amanda Nogaki
Amanda Nogaki is a marketing communications and branding professional based in Orange County, California. She graduated summa cum laude from California State University, Fullerton (CSUF) with a Bachelor of Arts in mass communications, a concentration in public relations and a minor in sociology. She served as two-term vice president of CSUF’s PRSSA Chapter, and she was an active member of the University Honors Program and a Dean’s Scholar for the College of Communications.
Amanda describes herself as a “meme queen” and likes to keep up on the latest trends in internet and pop culture. That being said, Amanda is an unabashed fan of the 2015 Super Bowl halftime show sharks, her devotion validated by having her left shark-themed graduation cap featured in a Mashable and BuzzFeed article.