Last week was Alumni Night at GV PRSSA. The distinguished alumni – Jessica Hines, Morgan Yingst, and Austin Langlois – all gave a tremendous amount of wisdom to our chapter. Along with explaining steps they took in the post-grad world to land that first job, they explained things they were glad they did in their undergrad, along with things they didn’t do. So whether you’re graduating in April or still a sophomore with plenty of college ahead of them still, it got us thinking.

Are there things you know now that you wish you would have known before? What key pieces of advice would you tell to yourself as a freshman now after living through what you have? Whether it be advice on being a PR major or just general advice, you probably would love to tell your younger self a few pieces of guidance. Even some motivational Lana Del Ray lyrics (not kidding). This week, we had blog committee members reflect on their college careers thus far and ‘sit down’ for a chat with their freshman selves. 

And we’re so glad we did.


To My Past-Self; By Thomas Pattee

When I look back to my freshman self, there are a few things that I remember if I had a crystal ball back then, would have loved to have known by 2015.

How is the year 2011 going? Awful? Thought so. Freshman year will your flight or dive situation. If I could give you any advice it would first be to really try to figure out what you want your major to be. Remember when you wanted to do Art History? That turned out to be a bigger backfire than Van Gogh trying to propose with his ear. I understand it seems to be a bit of pressure to have to decide what you want to do for the rest of your life when you have just been granted the right to vote, but it will save you time and money to really start to research this.

So you now figured out that you want to do Public Relations. My second line of advice would be to take the time to start really learning the ins-and-outs of PR. I understand that after you got your tonsils out in the summer of 2012 Netflix binge watching “Kell on Earth” made you feel more “informed” on the field, but you still have a lot to learn. Talk to professors, your peers, or even take your inquiries online. Just get to know it sooner than later before you get thrown into communication plans, social media campaigns, audits, etc.

My last piece of advice would be to enjoy your time in university. I know that sounds silly, but with enough late night study sessions, anxiety over exams, and constant thinking about your weekly workload, don’t forget to enjoy the good things about your experience there. The people you meet and the things you experience, will be a once in a life time experience. Take it all in and never for a second think you could be doing a better job than what you are already doing.

Random things I would have love to have known my freshman year:

1.       Cargo shorts are your frenemy. You will learn to let them go, but it will take time.

2.       You WILL grow into your chin.

3.       Don’t feel intimidated by anyone. Remember, the people who make you feel intimidated probably liked Twilight in high school and that is really sad.

4.       If you can’t say it to your grandmother, don’t say it on a social media.

5.       Don’t trust anyone that was pretty during puberty.

6.       Black denim jeans will consume you (and that’s ok).

7.       Be yourself, always. 

You Got This

Oh hey Alexa, you eager little college student, you. You’re about to have so much information thrown at you, you’re not going to know what to do with it. Take your time. You’re 18 years old and you don’t need to have everything figured out right now, I promise. I know you think you want to go into nursing, but it isn’t for you. It’s alright for you to try though-you’ll never have any question or wonder if you just didn’t try hard enough.

You’re definitely a hard-working kid-always have been. But it’s time to focus on school and pull back on the work schedule. Making money is nice and you’ve always enjoyed being independent and doing things for yourself, but the time has come to prioritize, and grades need to come first. You don’t know this yet, but you’re going to apply for a pretty competitive Music Business program once you graduate. You have to do everything you can stay on top of your game and prove that you have what it takes to get into one of these programs.

I also want to remind you how important it is to get involved with a student organization and volunteer your time. The more you’re able to network, the easier it’s gonna be when you start looking for a job and applying for grad school.

All in all, Lex, you know what you’re good at and you need to use it as often as you can. A lot will happen. You will get your heart broken, you will change, you will grow, and the person you will turn into is alright I guess J. Just keep going, stay involved in university organizations, and keep your eye on the prize. You’re going to do just fine, I promise.

A Conversation With My Freshman Self; By Erin Herner


As a second semester sophomore, it’s crazy to think just how much I have grown since freshman year. The Erin a year and a half ago had no clue what she wanted to major in, let alone do with her life. Although there is still so much I have yet to experience and learn, if I had the opportunity, I would love to sit down and have a conversation with my freshman self.  I can just imagine the questions I might have asked: What do I major in? Am I capable of taking on an art minor? What clubs/organization will be beneficial for me to join? What will my strategies of success in college be?

Freshman me who still didn’t know her major yet. 🙂 

To these questions I would respond:

1.      You will find your major. Don’t listen to those pressuring you to, “just choose one.” Although you may be starting to feel intimated by those around you who claim to know what they want to do with their life… don’t be. The truth is that they may think they know, but in a year a lot can change.  College is a time of growth. So keep doing what you are doing. This process of discovering what you want to do with your life, although stressful, will be all worth it in the end and you will grow tremendously. So, keep talking to people and asking what they are doing and how you can get involved. Keep requesting to meet up with advisors in fields that you are interested in. Continue to ask questions and advocate for yourself. Believe in your abilities, and that YOU ARE ON THE RIGHT PATH!

2.      To this question of whether you are capable or not…. You always are. Don’t doubt your abilities. AS far as the art minor goes.. yes you are capeable.. and yes it definitely will be a lot of work but it is rewarding and worth it.

3.      Clubs and organizations to join…. you should of joined both the sorority and PRSSA earlier. PRSSA is great for networking, gaining mentors from people in your majors, touring agencies, and more. Being in a sorority offers not only great networking, but leadership and philanthropy opportunities as well.

4.      Your Strategies of success:  Continue sitting near the front in class, visit office hours and actually get to know your professors (*you will be surprised to find out what incredible things they have done in their life and what wisdom and opportunities they can share with you), stay curious/ask questions, and lastly, make friends in your classes. To be able to work well with others is a life skill. Also two minds are better than one.

Nice talking to you freshman me!

– Erin Herner

Dear Alaina, Show Up; By Alaina Korreck


A letter to my younger self about the importance of getting up, dressing up, and showing up.

Hello younger self,

I know right now, you’re 17, and living in Chicago all by yourself. I also know that you’re going to go out too much, spend too much, and ultimately take too many naps (but you still do the last one in the future). But what I want to tell you is to keep going. Things get rough in college, as they typically do for everyone, but the best advice I have for you is to persevere, and get to it.

As a side effect of your napping problem, I know you sometimes have issues showing up. For anything. Class, events, coffee with friends, whatever it is, I need you to honor your commitments. I seriously can’t stress this enough. Small encounters will end up changing your future, so whatever the opportunity, get yourself to it. A boss you’ll have later on, will tell you every day that 80% of success is showing up.  CC: Woody Allen. And he’s so right.  Sometimes the biggest way you can get ahead is by being places that others aren’t, and that requires you to get up, dress up, and show up. Make people familiar with your face. Be the one who is at everything, doing everything, and is the most dependable. THAT will be the single most important habit you develop.

Regarding dressing up, do it. Pinterest until your fingers bleed, but find some staple pieces you can wear to the office that don’t make you look like you’re borrowing your moms casual pant suit.

If you feel over dressed, own it. It’s not going to reflect poorly on you if the intern is the best dressed person in the office. Just because I know you’re a personal fan of a well placed cliché: dress for the job you want, not the job you have.

Another thing I want you to remember is to know your worth. You’ll bounce around a lot in the next two years. You’ll accept a lot of jobs, and some internships, but you need to always remember what cards you’re bringing to the table. Please remember that all experiences are not worthy of your time. Don’t jump at the first offer just because it came first; hold out for something you’ll benefit from. Know when to walk away from dead end jobs and internships that you’ve maxed out. But always do it with class. I know it doesn’t seem like working at that tanning salon will help you too much in the future, but you never know. This advice will matter a lot when you start to consider transferring schools. You need to remember what your worth, and what type of college experience you deserve.

I’ll leave you with this, when the time comes for you to make that big life change, only listen to yourself. It will never matter what your friends or your family think about you transferring schools. Make the choice that you want to make. It’s your life, they don’t have to deal with the consequences.



To My Freshman Self; By Kayla Foster

Here I am in the last semester of my college career. It’s hard to believe I’m about to graduate in April and have to go out into the “real world.” Looking back at my college experience, it’s definitely had its ups and downs, but overall I’ve learned a lot and now I want to share my senior wisdom with you.

If you aren’t happy – change majors

Seriously, it’s fine. If you don’t enjoy your classes, find something you do enjoy.

I started college as a nursing major (talk about a 180 now being in the field of communications). When I started at my community college in fall 2011, I had the mindset that I should be a nurse, but come to find out, I hate science, hospitals and sickness…so probably not the best fit. I changed to dental hygiene, physical therapy, an undeclared English major, and I think I was even a sociology major at one point. But being so lost and trying all these things lead to me where I am now, and I’m really happy with where I ended up.

It’s okay to stay home and go to community college

I know a lot of your friends are probably going off to school and that can make it seem like you have to, too. I was going to go to a four-year university after high school, but at the last minute I realized I didn’t know what I wanted to study and I wasn’t ready to go to a big university yet. I can tell you from experience that I don’t regret staying home and figuring out what I wanted to do for a much cheaper price.

Don’t worry if your degree takes more than four years

Honestly, I think it’s a rarity that one finishes school in just four years with all the requirements we have, even if you don’t ever change your major (which I also think is rare). Things happen, and if it takes you five years instead of four, don’t stress. Kudos to you for sticking it out.

Pursue your passions

Too many people, like myself when I started college, have the attitude that money ranks over what you are actually passionate about. While money is important in life, your career is what you will be doing every day – you want to be happy doing it, don’t you? If I had this mentality when I started college, I would have started as an English major. So many people talked me out of it, always asking “what would you do with that after graduation?” or saying, “but you’d never find a good paying job in the profession.” Now I stand by the saying, “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”

Ask for help

I kind of figured out the whole college thing on my own. I will be the first person in my family to get a bachelor’s degree of any kind when I graduate in April. So being totally new to the whole college thing and not having a clue of what I should be studying was scary. In hindsight, I should have reached out to people who had gone through the same struggles I did, and I would recommend that to you, too. Reach out and get a mentor, explore all your options, and never discard something as a possibility.

Good luck!


5 Tips for My Freshman Self; By Tyler Lehner


5 Tips For My Freshman Self:

First of all, hello. I hope your experience in Seidman Living Center is treating you well and Kleiner Commons (pre-Qdoba) is as scrumptious as I recall it was. I want to quickly review a few things that will be crucial and beneficial in the coming years of your higher education:

1. Freedom comes with learned responsibility

Entering college as a freshman is one of the most, if not the most, thrilling part of your educational career. Living on your own for the first time, you can eat whatever/whenever you want, skip class without repercussions and participate in (responsible) collegiate activities. This is exciting. This is new. This is important. 

This freedom granted upon you can quickly lead you into a slippery slope of bad grades, bad habits and bad people. Step back, prioritize and realize that what you do now will affect your next few years at GVSU.

2. Embrace your individuality

Throughout grade school, you were told by teachers to be yourself and don’t let kids tell you how to act or treat people. We all know that this was not feasible. Kids were mean. Kids said things. You had to fit into the mold of the typical student or else…consider yourself an outcast. 

College is different. Within the Laker student body, there are people like you, whoever you are or whoever you want to be. Don’t let people whom you meet during your first semester at GV dictate who you are/want to be. “Be young. Be dope. Be proud” -Lana Del Rey


Enough said. I’m not kidding.

4. Don’t feel stuck in your major

Although declaring a major at freshmen orientation is encouraged, do not, by any means, feel that you must stick with that major. If you don’t like business, switch. If you don’t like pre-med, change. The earlier the better, both for your class-load and money. 

*Spoiler alert: you will discover your love for public relations and advertising at the end of your sophomore year.

5. Don’t let Gen-Ed grades get you down

It is difficult to perform in classes that are required and do not interest you in any way. Add a poor professor into the mix and you’re destined to fall. Grades are just a small part of the mix for your future. Future employers are not going to look down on you for getting a B- in Geology. 

Note to Self: Be Selfish?; By Teresa Bennink

You chose Grand Valley because they have a great physical therapy program, and you went to the Chemistry exam your freshman year and made patterns on the final exam paper.  Well now it is time to choose a new major.  That’s ok!

                I like history, so let’s try that out.  Wow, Tudor and Stuart England could have been such a good class, but no – it sucked.  How about Anthropology?  It is very similar to history right?  No that pretty much sucked too.  So go through the catalog and see if anything sounds interesting, I decided.  Public Relations looks interesting, and I found that I loved COM 101.

                Not knowing what you want to be when you grow up isn’t such a bad thing.  Taking diverse courses allows you to really know what you do and do not like.  But once you do decide, it is time for some real advice. 

                Be selfish.

                Seriously.  Once you have decided that PR is what you would like to pursue, know that it is not just going to class and handing in assignments.  It is also joining PRSSA, finding internships, attending seminars, blogging.  Anything you can do to get your name and your work ‘out there’.

                Your friend wants to go see American Sniper Wednesday night, but it is PR Wednesday.  What to do?  Be selfish and go to the PR meeting.  The meetings are fun too, and will help you in the future.  Besides, isn’t it better to be able to talk about those blue eyes with your friends while stuffing your face with popcorn and wine when it hits Netflix?

                Your boyfriend wants to go out Friday night, but there is a great speaker the COM department has scheduled.  Go see the speaker, and your boyfriend will be waiting for you when you get home.  If not, find someone who will be there next time.

                Once you graduate and find that perfect job, it becomes time for payback for that selfishness during your college years.  Join PRSA or other organizations.  Make yourself available to current students who can learn from your great experiences while you were in your selfish phase.  Be the best PR person you can be and never stop learning.

Blast From the Past; by Jailyn Glass

This letter is dedicated to the 18 year old Jailyn, who was more than excited to start her college career. In light of keeping this post closely related to PR, I will talk about how my freshman year would have been different by going with my first mind.

Dear younger self,

You are a senior now in college – where did the time go? August 2011 was the transition year from high school to college; you have done exceptionally well so far. With graduation approaching in December, there are some aspects that you still need to grasp as an undergraduate student. It’s okay to feel scared, nervous, and excited; you still have time to pull it together.

            There are three key points that you could’ve done to make your transition a little more smoother: having more confidence, being a risk taker, and leave other people’s opinions as other people’s opinions.

            Naturally, you’ve always been a shy person. Changing this will not happen overnight, but you will gradually improve. It’s human nature to feel doubt. You doubted yourself from declaring Advertising and Public Relations as a major freshman year because you weren’t “creative.” You felt a sense of relief when you changed your major from Statistics to AD/PR. This was a field you were interested in doing, and not just doing calculations all day. Doubting your creative abilities was a silly idea. Creativity comes in more than one form. Go with your first instinct. If it sucks the first time, then try again and make it better than before.

Next, you need to take more risks. Do things that scare and make you nervous. Stepping out of your comfort zone will help you accomplish things a little better. After declaring APR major right before junior year, you thought you were so far behind; you joined organizations, like PRSSA, to keep up.

You pushed yourself out of your comfort zone to make sure you had the necessary abilities/knowledge to prepare for your upcoming career. Having gone through this, you are more comfortable with doing things that scared me. With the additional help of GrandPR, being a summer Orientation Student Assistant and Student Ambassador, your fear of public speaking is surely fading away.

Now that you have this knowledge, follow your first mind and heart for now on.