An Open Letter to the New PR Student

PRSSA-SE Member, Samantha Holsten
PRSSA-SE Associate Vice President of Finance, Samantha Holsten

In this executive member blog, Samantha Holsten, Associate Vice President of Finance, reflects on the importance reaching out to peers when embarking on your career in public relations.

Starting a new job is always terrifying. Everyone around you is watching to see if you fail; because they know they know more than you. Declaring a major in Public Relations feels about the same way. It may not always seem like it, but your career in PR starts as soon as you make the decision to pursue it. The only difference between that job and a “normal” job at a fast food restaurant is that people aren’t waiting for you to fail. Actually, they’re not waiting for you at all. Public Relations is a very fast-paced industry, so unless you ask someone for help it’s likely not going to come to you.

I learned this lesson early when I realized I had no idea what I was doing, or what public relations is. I’m currently a junior majoring in Public Relations with a minor in Creative Writing; I’ve come a long way from where I was freshman year. Do I have all the experience in the world through internships and conference experience? Not really. I work over forty hours a week during the summer to support myself during school and time and money have never really worked in my favor as far as conferences go.

Holsten with Ashlee Lingle, Associate Vice President of Professional Development, at PRSSA’s Annual Fundraising Event, Puppies on the Terraces.

Although I highly suggest finding an internship and attending as many events as possible, the most valuable experience I’ve gained so far has been through my peers. This organization has forced me out of my comfort zone, to socialize with the people in my major – and I’m so grateful for it. Networking is one of the most important aspects of this profession and it starts as soon as you choose to start. I’ve learned so much from talking to students who are farther along in the program than myself and listening to their experiences and advice.

I don’t have a wealth of knowledge to pull from in order to give advice, so my only advice is to never be afraid to ask for advice. If you are ever lost in this profession, or even in preparation for it, chances are one of your peers has the answers to help guide you. Resume critiques, interview preparation, portfolio building or even questions regarding an assignment for a class are all opportunities to ask for help. In doing this you are not only gaining knowledge that will be useful to you, and possibly someone else later, but you are building relationships with the people who will one day be working in the same job market as you.

That being said, you can’t rely on others for every problem that comes your way. A large part of PR is innovation and finding out what works best for yourself. Be willing to ask for help, but never be afraid to put your own spin on something. This profession can seem very daunting, especially in the beginning, but the key is to put aside the fear of failing or sounding dumb. When you do that, you’ll find yourself breaking through walls around and inside you. So be bold and let the fear of something new drive you to lead like the others who helped you along the way.

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