4 Lessons from an award-winning public relations Student

Success doesn’t come easy. It must be worked for, fought for and earned. But for Colin Wylie, success has come through his dedication to the public relations industry. Wylie’s dedication has paid off in the form of multiple awards and scholarships.

At the 2018 Public Relations Student Society of America National Conference in Austin, Texas, he earned two recognition awards, the National Gold Key award for excellent academic behavior in the field of PR and the National President’s Citation for service to the organization.

At the conference, Wylie was also the recipient of two scholarships, the Axia Public Relations Scholarship and the Robin M. Urbanski Memorial Scholarship for showing exceptional mentorship to other PR students. Wylie’s work with the BYU PRSSA chapter helped it win two of the twelve Dr. F. H. Teahan awards, the highest achievements a university chapter can receive.

Wylie, who will wrap up his schooling in April 2019, provided four tips to help students take advantage of the opportunities they have now to prepare for a successful future in public relations.

1. Get involved

“There are basically four kinds of students in our program and PRSSA chapter,” Wylie said. “Not active at all, those who pay their dues to PRSSA and other organizations, but don’t participate, those who are involved and active, and those are super-involved.” While it’s not necessary to become a hyper-PRSSA advocate and put every inch of your time into the program, Wylie recommends to not only pay your dues, but to choose to be active at any chance you get. “You get 100 percent out of what you put into the program.”

Wylie has thrown himself headlong into the public relations program, taking up positions and roles early on by engaging with others on a deep, personal level. “I went to my first National Conference only knowing the BYU students,” Wylie said. “I was able to build a lot of friendships.”

2. Step Outside of your Comfort Zone

“It’s important that you step outside of your comfort zone and get to know people.” Wylie explained that choosing to get to meet people and stick your neck out will allow you to connect with the people who would have otherwise not changed your life. “It’s hard, I went to the conference and I could have just stayed with the people I came with and not gotten to meet anyone, but then I wouldn’t have grown.”

While he has seen success in the public relations program, it was not originally Wylie’s goal to study either public relations or go to BYU. “I was planning to go directly into the business world,”  Wylie said. After serving as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he began working at a retail store in his hometown on Vancouver Island, Canada. However, his life took a turn after he felt like he needed to apply for school.

“I took the ACT, jumped through the hoops and turned in my application to BYU,” Wylie said. “I wasn’t expecting to get in but was surprised when I got the accepted into the school.” This unusual turn of events however turned out for the better when Wylie learned that the company shut down not much later and layed-off all of its employees. His willingness to step outside of his comfort zone affected how the rest of his life, and ultimately, his success would turn out.

3. Develop Real Relationships

“It’s important to be focused on developing real relationships. Don’t see people as leverage for something higher that you want to attain.” Wylie also believes that we should establish a relationship that was deeper than simply connecting on LinkedIn. You can find greater satisfaction and better opportunities down the road if you are willing to go deeper and farther than simply giving a handshake and making basic small talk. Choosing to find ways to really connect with the professionals you meet will open doors and potential career opportunities down the road. 

 “At one particular conference, I met a professional named Ron Culp. I got to know him and exchanged contact information. After getting home from that conference, I followed up with him.” Wyle said. “Since then, I’ve been fortunate to interact with him regularly and see him at conferences. I’ve been blessed to write for his award-winning blog several times.” This relationship has allowed him to expand his opportunities further to relate, grow and connect more with others, and thereby open more opportunities for growth and improvement. It has also created a friendship that Wylie hopes to strengthen through the rest of his life.

4. Take advantage of getting jobs and internships.

“Get an internship every summer, if you can.” Companies are looking for experience and ability. “If you need to switch around jobs to get experience, do it. The more experience you have the better off you will be.”

The senior has exemplified that throughout his collegiate career. Colin currently works as the Public Relations Coordination for the BYU Department of Design, but also serves a Regional Ambassador for 17 chapters within the Public Relations Student Society of America. He has also been fortunate to work for the BYU College of Fine Arts and Communications, Revere Health and Boy Scouts of America – Utah National Parks Council.

Wylie expressed that anyone can have success in their collegiate career. “Applying for the awards is easy. Anyone can do it.” All in all, it’s about the desire, effort and time a person puts into their education. “My involvement with BYU PRSSA and the national organization has set a foundation that I hope to build a strong career on. I owe my success to the support of the those around me and opportunities provided by the organization.”



 Chris Smith is a Sophomore from Texas. While not in the PR program yet, he recently joined PRSSA and is loving every second of it. He loves anything Texas-related, performing in the Cougar Marching Band, and in his spare time enjoys reading or eating.


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