When I found out that PRSSA’s National Conference was going to be held in the live music capital of the world, there wasn't any question in my mind: I was going to Austin, TX.
Receiving the opportunity to attend this year's conference, through a PRSA Foundation Student Travel Grant for multicultural students, opened up doors and widened my perspective of public relations as an art form – quite appropriate considering the theme: The Art of PR.
Almost immediately after checking into my hotel, I met students from other chapters across the nation. That's one of the best things about attending National Conference: Every day you're able to interact with different peers and professionals and double your network in a matter of days. No one is unwilling to talk to you because we all understand that one of the most important elements of our profession is relationships.
The conference sessions included a variety of topics that catered to every individual. From crisis management to brand reputation, there was always something new to take in, especially because the sessions were being led by professionals in their specific industry.
One of the sessions I attended featured Todd Plotkin, founder and creative director of Green Buzz Agency, who discussed the components of video production and how to better engage an audience. Attendees were given a look into real world examples of how impactful videos can be used to portray messages for brands and campaigns.
The opportunities for professional development were endless, from career tours to resume critiques to casual socials to conference sessions. I quickly came to realize that if you weren't having the best time at National Conference, you weren't taking advantage of what was being handed to you.
My favorite event at the conference was getting the chance to attend the Diversity and Inclusion Mixer with PRSA. Witnessing professionals receive awards for their work in pioneering paths, and learning about opportunities they had to feel that their voice mattered, was inspiring, especially for students who may have struggled or are currently struggling to make their mark on society.
Not only did attending National Conference allow me to gain a better grasp of the field of public relations as a pre-professional, but I also became enthralled with the experience to discover more about myself as an individual in a new city with my Chapter.
A quote that really resonated with me throughout my time in Austin was from Cheryl Procter-Rogers, who said, during the Sunday Keynote Address, "It doesn't matter how thick or thin the trunk is. Why? Because it is rooted in your passion."
I think people often get caught up in wanting to constantly be on top and neglect the authenticity of their profession. What I learned from being at National Conference is that you must be willing to open your mind to new perspectives and fully embrace the notion that there is strength in diversity.