By Kristen Tomins
They say it’s all about who you know and having connections to get your career rolling. Eleven students of the Public Relations Student Society of America got to create those connections in the high-rise buildings of Chicago while on a networking trip April 3 and 4.
The student members, accompanied by PRSSA adviser Julie Hagenbuch, visited Edelman, the headquarters of one of the world’s largest public relations firms, a large consulting and technology services firm, Accenture and the news station of Chicago’s ABC 7.
Students were taken on tours throughout the facility and were able to ask questions about the field of PR during their visit.
Edelman set up a panel with the students, who were also joined by Michigan State’s PRSSA group.
“[The panel] was really helpful,” said Stevon Duey, a junior and PR major at the University. “They all talked about how they got started in their careers, so it kind of taught you how to get your foot in the door.”
He said networking with professionals was among the most important pieces of advice discussed during the panel.
“They really stressed how important it is to just always, always be talking to people; do something that will make them remember you,” Duey said.
Students were also able to participate in a Q & A session while sitting at ABC 7’s broadcasting desk after watching alumnus Doug Whitmire produce the station’s morning show.
Their time at ABC also included a tour of the studio, meeting staff members from the broadcasts.
Being a PR major, Duey said it was interesting to go behind the scenes of each location to learn how both news reporters and broadcasters work differently than professionals in the field of PR.
“It’s nice to see how they can work together,” Duey said. “Each aspect works differently so it was cool to get a well-rounded idea of how different industries or companies work.”
He said touring Accenture ended up being his favorite visit, where they were able to tour Accenture Customer Innovation Network rooms filled with advanced technology like 3-D printers and software that could read one’s emotion based on their facial expression.
Becca Barth, a junior and PR major at the University, was able to expand her connections wide enough to land an interview for a summer internship with the company.
“It would be really good experience,” Barth said. “It’s not specifically for PR, but being flexible enough to take on different positions is all part of the major.”
She said her and the rest of the group were able to participate in a telecast, similar to Skype but with much clearer technology, to an employee in Philadelphia.
Accenture is also where alumna Jill Kouri resides as global head of marketing. Students were able to network with her and ask questions about her beginnings in her career.
Both Duey and Barth said networking with professionals was the most important piece of advice they gained from all three visits while on their trip.
“Nowadays it’s definitely more about who you know, rather than what you know,” said Barth.
PRSSA plans a networking trip each spring and also attends the national conference held in the fall. This fall, the Executive Board will travel to Washington D.C. for the PRSSA National Conference.