I have asked professionals from my local PRSA Chapter multiple times to glance over my résumé and business cards, especially when I was new to PRSSA and was trying my best just to get my bearings. Don’t be embarrassed to do the same! It will pay dividends, and it will show the professionals in your network how much you care about preparing for your future career.
Do engage them on social.
Make sure you’re following members from your local PRSA Chapter on social media. Not only will they be thought leaders and share industry news, but you’ll get to see more of their laid back sides. I know I love seeing the photos that some of my PRSA sponsor Chapter members share of their kids and their vacations. This also helps us as students to better relate to these professionals — they are human, and they appreciate their personal lives and family time just as much as we do!
Do reach out for coffee and lunch, not just favors.
It’s wonderful to have access to a professional network like a PRSA Chapter, but don’t abuse that privilege. If you’d like one of them to come to your school for a PRSSA event such as a lecture or a professional development activity, reach out to them early and be courteous in doing so. Be as flexible as possible when it comes to dates and times that work for them. Also, make sure you’re not only reaching out when you need something. Check in with them every couple of months just to see how business is, how their families are or if you’re both baseball fans, just to vent about the abysmal Pirates’ season. They’ll appreciate your genuine interest and they’ll know you’re not just in it for you.
Do connect PRSSA Chapter members with PRSA members with similar career aspirations.
If you know that one of your PRSSA general body members has an interest in working in the health care communication industry, and you know a member of your PRSA sponsor Chapter who works in marketing at a local hospital, help them both make that connection. Whether it leads to a job or just a shadow opportunity, let your network connections benefit others. It’s a win-win!
Do ask for help when you need it.
While National uses the term “sponsor Chapter” for PRSA Chapters, at our Chapter we often call PRSA Pittsburgh our “parent Chapter.” They’re our ultimate guides and our trusted advisers when it comes to this crazy and often overwhelming industry. And here’s a little secret: They love to feel needed! Always be aware of their hectic schedules, but never be afraid to reach out and ask for something, especially when they’ve offered their help in the past. Not hearing back from that internship and wondering what else is out there? Give someone at your PRSA sponsor Chapter a call or shoot them an email. While they might not have anything available at their own firm, they’ll more than likely be glad to connect you to someone, or somewhere, who does.
Don’t just assume they will reach out to you.
It is not your sponsor Chapter’s job to reach out to you and your Chapter — if you are interested in having a relationship with them, you must put in the work! Sponsor Chapters and their members are interested in having a relationship with you, but you need to show them that you are interested in having a relationship with them, too. Try reaching out to the members of your PRSA and introducing yourself, asking them to coffee or inviting them to a Chapter event.
Don’t contact them seeking a job or internship without a previous relationship.
Do not reach out to your sponsor Chapter seeking an internship or a job without a previous relationship. Remember, your sponsor Chapter is here to help you enhance your education, broaden your network and launch your career; however, it is not their responsibility to find you a job. Once you have an established relationship with a member of your PRSA sponsor Chapter, reach out and ask if they have any advice or leads. They will assist you in the process, but they will not do the work for you.
Maura Fenske is a senior public relations major with a journalism minor. She serves as the Chapter president for the Waynesburg University Public Relations Student Society of America Chapter and as an account specialist for Student-run Firm, Red Brick Communications. She also serves as the copy editor for FORUM and has written for Waynesburg University’s award-winning student newspaper The Yellow Jacket. Fenske hopes to combine her passion for public relations, writing and sports in her future career and plans to someday own a golden retriever named Rooney. Follow her on Twitter at @maurafenske and visit her on LinkedIn.