This year I had the opportunity to serve as Chapter president after having been actively involved with Temple University’s PRSSA Chapter since 2013. Over the last three years, I have grown not only as a student but as a young professional, thanks to PRSSA. I have found PRSSA to be an organization that has benefitted me in more ways than one, and wanted to give back to my Chapter by providing members with various opportunities to grow professionally through PRSSA. I found the key to success for accomplishing this goal was to do things for the first time.
My First Time
Before switching my major to concentrate on public relations in my sophomore year, I had never heard of PRSSA. My first time attending a Temple University PRSSA meeting was with a guest speaker who worked with the Philadelphia 76ers. She shared her journey from college student to young professional, and I was immediately inspired. I wanted to be just like her. This was the first time I understood what public relations was, and established my first career goal. That first meeting was the start of my journey with PRSSA.
The First Year as Chapter President
This year as Chapter president I wanted to expose members to their “firsts.” Knowing the mission of PRSSA, I wanted students to absorb the benefits of being a member. I knew members should take away something from their first meeting, feel inspired when they heard from a professional speaker, have the opportunity to give out their business card for the first time at their first networking event, have fun at their first (and every) Chapter event, form a great relationship with their first mentor and/or mentee, establish their first career goal and more. I wanted all of the members of Temple’s PRSSA Chapter to have their first professional development and educational experiences with PRSSA because I believe we, as well as the Chapters across the country, are truly dedicated to helping members grow and develop into young professionals.
This year, myself and the executive board wanted it to be a year of firsts. We had our first ever “PR by the Generation” panel discussion consisting of four professionals of different ages and levels of experience reflecting on their experience with public relations and how they have seen the field change. We also had our first “free membership” social media contest, our first PRSSA Chapter mixer with Drexel and LaSalle Universities, and our first PRSSA team at Temple’s “Relay for Life” event. We also had our first event with Temple’s American Marketing Association that was a panel discussion of three professionals who worked on the 2015 Philadelphia World Meeting of Families event. The speakers for this panel discussion were full of energy, and the event was a major highlight during our first official “PRSSA Week.” We even had high school students attend our annual TU Invitational Conference for the first time this year.
The Benefits of Doing Something for the First Time
By having your Chapter do something for the first time, you are providing members with the opportunity to step outside of their comfort zones. You also are providing members the chance to do so in an organization where they are comfortable. Mixing these two elements together can ultimately inspire Chapter members to apply for leadership positions, attend events with local PRSA Chapters and other college Chapters, attend National and Regional Conferences, meet with PRSA professionals and more.
Have Your First “Year of Firsts”
In this industry, it is very important to acquire a desire to go and do things you have never done before. I found by having a “year of firsts,” my Chapter was preparing members to experience this while exposing them to professional development opportunities. I believe doing things for the first time is great for anyone and everyone. For example, by striving for a “year of firsts,” we were able to introduce high school students to our Chapter for the first time. A “year of firsts” has helped to spark creativity for executive board members by pushing them to find new ways of getting members involved, and it has kept members curious about what is upcoming with the Chapter. It also has kept our Chapter fresh with new ideas and events. This tactic has benefited us in so many ways, and I encourage you to have your first “year of firsts.”
Alissa Steele is a graduate of Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where she studied strategic communications with a concentration in public relations. She served as the 2015-2016 PRSSA Chapter president at Temple, and has been a member of PRSSA since 2013. Connect with her on Twitter, @alisssa_ann94, and on LinkedIn.