We’ve all been given more time to think than we’re used to. In the past five months, I’ve had time to reflect on the things that have changed me, and the things that have made me. My routine, pre-COVID, was definitely something that I took for granted. I think we can all agree, we took the daily grind as an annoyance, but it shaped us to be the people that we are. You know, the early classes we almost sleep through, or the obligations we have that we have to have an 8 P.M. power coffee to get through. It took those things not being options in my schedule any longer for me to really understand how much I enjoyed it.
I remember my first PRSSA meeting very well. I was a freshman, it was cold, and I had walked across campus at 9 P.M. for the meeting. I sat in the back, and I didn’t speak. I was the only freshman, and everyone at that time seemed older, wiser, and a lot more confident than I was. Seriously, I felt like a baby in a room full of grown men and women. Admittedly, the number of opportunities that are offered to any Advertising and Public Relations student can be a little overwhelming. In this program, you are set up to succeed. As mushy and biased as it may sound, this program has changed me for the better. There are so many lessons that I could currently teach the version of me that sat in the back, and I think it’s important to reflect on just what this program has taught me.
The APR Classes
I think that everyone in this program can agree that we are extremely lucky to have the faculty that we do. There’s a variety in experience, interests, and wisdom from all of our professors and it’s comforting to know that someone always has had a similar experience to what you are going through, or has the answers to assist you through it. My classes have obviously given me more knowledge than I think I’m even aware of, but my knowledge goes beyond knowing how to prepare a media kit and appeal to stakeholders.
My classes have taught me to be accountable for what I do, and careful with the words I choose to speak with. It has taught me to pick up lessons from things outside of the lesson plan. On top of that, it’s faculty who tell you when you’ve done well and when you have opportunities to improve. I’ve had phone calls with my advisor at 11 P.M., and I’ve been in a professor’s office hours for two hours until I understood what I thought I was missing. When the people in charge devote so much of their limited time to their students, it’s hard to not have that same energy in return.
We’re lucky to be in a major that adapts as quickly as ours does. Our transition to online seemed almost seamless. We’re taught to be able to take our work home and work remotely, we never thought that this would become our life. I can’t brag enough about that.
The student organizations that are offered in the APR program go further than a resume boost. They require dedication, perseverance, and a creative approach to all things you do. However, I would never give up the experiences I’ve had with GrandPR and PRSSA. I think there’s something to say about the fact that both of these organizations have given me the want to do good work, and part of that is due to the fact I work with people I care about.
Additionally, it’s given me the privilege of knowing I have a friend wherever I go, and a person that is always willing to help me. In that same respect, it’s taught me how to be that type of friend for other people. The student life in the APR program reminds us that our futures are a team effort, not a competition.
A little bit of both
Maybe the growth has stemmed primarily from having something to look forward to every day. There are so many noteworthy things happening almost daily in this program that it’s hard to say which experience did what. However, the combination of the insightful classes and student organizations in the APR program has given me a degree of confidence that I had never felt prior to being involved with this program.
Yes, I know how to write a press release, I know how to conduct a good meeting, and I can explain my skills in an interview. Truly, they have taught me how to think like a PR pro. However, I can also speak without second-guessing what I’m saying. I know that the people around me want me to succeed, and I know that the feeling is mutual. I know how to lead because I am surrounded by leaders that encourage me to do so. I can give constructive criticism, and more importantly, I can receive it.
The duality of the opportunities in this program has given me a toolkit that is unlike anything I ever expected. I truly cannot imagine the person I would be, or who any of us in this program would be, without it.
After spending these few months reflecting on busy schedules and empty cups of coffee, I have one takeaway about this program. As students, we are so lucky. We are held accountable, the expectations are high, and sometimes the work is demanding, but we are so much better because of it. We all know what the alternative to this is, it’s being quiet and scared in the back of a room. It’s being full of questions, but being too afraid to ask them.
My final thoughts, and your next move
I urge any students that are involved in this program and not involved in either PRSSA or Ad Club to come to a (virtual) meeting, talk to someone whose passion intimidates you, and ask them a question. I think that you’ll find out that they’re just as eager to talk to you are as you are to talk to them. Additionally, I highly recommend applying for GrandPR and getting your hands in our student-run firm.