By: Eleanor O’Hara

After spending a week in Atlanta, Georgia for the PRSSA National Conference with PR students and professionals from around the United States, my love for the profession grew to something I never could have imagined.

One part that stood out to me the most was making connections. It was overwhelming how many people you had the opportunity to meet in a day. Making connections is important, it is what drives our profession. The PRSSA National Conference is where young professionals (like me) have the opportunity to start building their networks outside of their university’s chapter. Out of all of the things that I learned, that is what I saw to be most valuable.

National conference gave me two huge chances to make connections. First, I was able to reconnect with someone that I had grown up with and hadn’t seen since we both left for college almost four years ago. She doesn’t attend school in Michigan so without the conference, I wouldn’t have been able to catch up on such a personal and professional level.

Second, I was able to expand my network to places outside of Michigan. At the conference, I was able to connect and collaborate with student professionals from all over, including Nevada, Illinois State and Alabama. As CEO of GrandPR, I was able to talk to them about what their student-run firms are like and some of the challenges they face. We were able to talk and help each other have a fresh perspective at the issue or task at hand.

Above all, PRSSANC forced me to become comfortable with meeting and mingling with new people. It was quite refreshing to be surrounded by hundreds of people who not only understood what we do, but also why we are so passionate about it. I know that networking can be nerve-wracking, but you never know who could meet. Increasing your network is important; don’t be afraid to do it!

I am happy to have been able to experience the PRSSA National Conference in my final year at Grand Valley. I grew closer with my chapter, was able to increase my network outside of Michigan and fall in love with the profession all over again. If you have the chance to go, do it. It will be so worth it.

Eleanor “Elle” O’Hara is a senior at Grand Valley State University studying Advertising and Public Relations, and Business. She is the CEO of GVSU’s nationally-affiliated student-run firm, GrandPR, and actively involved in PRSSA. Elle is looking forward to her final two semesters and transitioning to the “real-world”. She hopes to end up at a PR firm in Chicago as an Account Executive. In her spare time, Elle enjoys baking goodies, hanging out with friends and binge watching One Tree Hill on Netflix.