| Talk about anxiety-ridden details when thinking about the future – finding an excuse to talk to that exec, finding experience outside of Utah or understanding the point of a cover letter. Most students struggle with this same thing, but most don’t realize there’s already an easier way – PRSSA.|
PRSSA is life-changing, especially with the BYU chapter. One woman shares how it has transformed her college career and how it can easily revolutionize yours.
Amelia Mecham, the 2019-2020 PRSSA President for the BYU chapter, has been in PRSSA since her freshman year leading her to life-long friends and memories she’ll never forget. Now, she wants to help PR students take advantage of what PRSSA has to offer.
Back in 2014, Mecham showed up skeptically to a couple of PRSSA events but never joined. She came back after her mission not knowing anyone, trying to navigate the change in curriculum and feeling alone. “I was like, ‘I really need to meet people and start getting more experience.’ I remembered, ‘oh, there’s PRSSA where I could probably do that.’”
She joined one of the PRSSA firms working with Amar, an International Nonprofit Refugee program. There, she hosted a booth at the Provo Refugee 5K, put together the BYU Care Week campaign, and created a platform for people to donate to refugees.
Through this firm, she met Lauren and Jeff – her firm directors and her “mentors for PR and in life.” As they helped in her learning process, they encouraged her to apply to be a firm director which took her to PRSSA’s regional leadership conference in Boise.
Looking back, she can’t help but comment, “Why didn’t I do this my freshman year? Why hadn’t I paid my dues and gone?”
Starting Your Journey
Mecham says PRSSA is about networking. “I have contacts literally all over the country – that’s professionals and students.” There are events, agency visits, conferences and networking galore. “You will get paid in networking opportunities,” comments Mecham.
A recent networking banquet in March was significant for many members. Many professionals and students came together through food. While many got great advice, even more was given. “Lots of people got job offers. Someone even told me they got hired right on the spot,” remarked Mecham.
The BYU chapter also comes with fame and glory. It is one of over 300 chapters in the nation, with a few also in Peru and Argentina. And BYU wins a lot of awards. Last year at the 2018 National PRSSA Conference in Austin, Texas, the chapter won two Dr. F.H. Teahan awards – the biggest PRSSA award you can win, with only 12 given per year. “This is the third in program history to win two Teahan awards at a single conference and the Cougars’ third year in a row earning a Teahan,” BYU PRSSA blog. The awards were won for excellence in Community Service and Chapter Website. Mecham says when referring to the awards, “Saying I’m from BYU means something.” The year before BYU won the outstanding chapter award—the highest honor.
PRSSA also has a number of other features – over $36,000 of scholarships given out, mentoring opportunities, an exclusive job board, internships newsletter, resume and portfolio critiquing, blog writing experiences and conferences across the country. The BYU chapter is currently preparing the international conference in San Diego this October. They’re encouraging as many students as possible to go and more information can be found on the PRSA website.
Mecham says plans for Fall 2019 are already underway and now is the time to start preparing. “We want to aim it towards the PRSA chapter – the professional arm rather than just the student arm as well as the Utah Valley chapter,” Mecham explains. They’re working on the skills that you can’t get in a classroom – more networking events, and an emphasis on mentorship.
“You’ve got to put yourself out there and introduce yourself to people,” Mecham encourages. “We want to create opportunities for people. My goal is that PRSSA has the network to get you anywhere you want to go in the country.”
About the writer: Christine Anderson is junior at BYU, emphasizing in Public Relations in the School of Communications. She loves creating content through writing, design and videography mediums. Her content focuses on topics that are relatable and passionate to her fellow college students.