After attending my first PRSSA National Conference last year as a freshman, I knew that this was an experience I would need to have again. Going into my sophomore year, one of the first things I did when I got back to campus was register for the conference and I’m not going to lie, I had some pretty high expectations, but this year’s conference blew it out of the water. The experience I had there will live within me forever and it’s all thanks to three things: the people, the sessions, and the Chapter.
Being surrounded by over 1,000 students who share the same passion that you do for public relations and communications is an absolutely amazing experience. However, as a little freshman I had no idea how to network with these great people and I definitely didn’t think anyone would want to get to know me. Going into this year I made it a goal to meet as many people as I possibly could and I was amazed at just how many I met. People actually wanted to talk to me about everything from my career aspirations to my personal brand. I couldn’t believe all the business cards I got! It was so great to meet so many new people and I definitely gained many new friends and connections through the event.
The great thing about attending National Conference as a freshman is that it allows you to figure out exactly what you want to do in your future career. You are presented with so many sessions covering everything from successful event planning to how to execute a non-profit communications plan. Since I already know what I want to do in my future career, it was difficult to select sessions since some of them seemed to cater to something I wasn’t entirely interested it, but I found applicable information in all of them. My favorite session was the PRSA General Session featuring Rep. John Lewis, tireless civil rights activist. Rep. Lewis has been a role model of mine for years and getting to hear him speak on the importance of communication in activism reaffirmed that political communication is where I need to be. I also couldn’t believe that I got to meet this awe-inspiring man in person.
Arguably one of my favorite aspects of attending a National Conference is the bonding you experience within your chapter. Before attending conference, I hardly knew any of them members attending. However, after spending only 11 hours in a van with 11 girls and a “quick” stop in London, KY I grew incredibly close with all of them. Between attending sessions together, going out in the evening for dinner, sightseeing in beautiful Atlanta and sharing bedrooms I found some of my best friends and I’m so happy that National Conference allowed this to happen. Also, winning the Teahan for Best Chapter Firm definitely brings you all closer together though celebration!
Going into my second National Conference, I was a bit worried. I found myself thinking “how could anything top the experience I had in D.C. last year?” This was such a silly thought because no matter where the conference is or what is happening, YOU make the experience what YOU want it to be. I’m happy to say that this year’s conference was my best yet and I can’t wait to see what Indianapolis has in store for me next year.
Sam Miller is a Sophomore studying in Strategic Communication, with a Minor in Political Science, and a Political Communication Certificate. Follow her on Twitter @keepcalmsam14!