In 2009 Annual Conference, Student Track, Tuesday

Part of public relations is learning to work with what you’re given, and when the first student track speaker was suddenly unable to make it to Boca, the student group did just that. Recognizing the importance of networking not just with the more experienced professional peers but among themselves, Jen, Alexia, Amber, Dana, Denise, Armando, Michelle, Nicole, Laurie, Leyda, Kayla, Kelly, Denielle, Julia, Christina, Mackenzie, Shirlene, Ashleigh and Emily spent some time sharing PR experiences and advice with Karen Smittle, APR, CPRC while chowing down on lunch.

The students here represent the University of Central Florida, Florida Gulf Coast University, Florida state University, Flagler College, and the University of Florida (Go Gators!). They work with production agencies, athletic associations, TV stations, state representatives, PR agencies, student newspapers, and even a Spanish firm. Several students also volunteer their time with churches, wish-granting organizations,

Some topics discussed:

• Find a way to incorporate your passion into your career. A few students work for sports associations or sports marketing firms because they love football, basketball, etc. Sports PR can be an all-consuming job but if you love it, it will be fun.
• Volunteer! You can gain valuable experience and transferable skills from volunteering with an organization that excites you.
• Step outside your comfort zone or your “plan” for your career. Emily shared how she moved to Florida for the summer to intern with the FPRA state office and ended up becoming an integral part of the conference team. Realizing that Florida is where it’s at for public relations, she’s making the move from William Smith College in upstate New York to the University of Tampa next spring.
• Scoring a paid internship is great, but consider the experience you want as well. Unpaid internships can offer the opportunity to work on projects and receive training you might not have in a paid position. Money is important to get by, but in the long-term your best move is to intern at a place whose work you like and respect and where you’ll be proud to say you worked at later in your career. If you’re passionate about travel, for example, but the travel PR internships available are unpaid, consider the fact that the internship will give you skills that later help you land a job in the travel communications field.
• Network, network, network! Go through your personal and professional connections and make a list of who may be able to help you get and internship or full-time job. Let everyone know you’re looking for employment.
• Market yourself. Inventory your skills and say what you’re worth. Consider your nontraditional interests and how those might translate into potential job skills. Do you spend a lot of time on social networks? (Who among students doesn’t?) Then chances are you’re a pro at developing social media. Word your skills in a way that makes employers want you to work for them!

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