When I was a freshman, I had no idea what I wanted to do as a career. It took me until the summer before my junior year to realize that public relations had everything I wanted in a major. Once I officially declared it as my major, I immediately signed up to join the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). I was also accepted into an Emerging Leaders Program, and I joined a Greek organization. Without these three organizations as a part of my college career, I don’t know where I would be. They all meant much more to me than just a few lines on a resume. Here are my top seven reasons why joining an organization in college, such as PRSSA, is so beneficial.
- Networking – The best way to network with students who have similar interests is joining a student organization. It can help you with your career, a hobby or anything you are passionate about. PRSSA always held organized professional networking events and opportunities. I landed my first interview for an internship through a networking event in Cleveland.
- Social Skills – As a student, you want to learn how to talk to other people from different cultures and countries. It’s an essential skill in life, especially when you’re in our kind of business and work with diverse clients. Organizations give you an opportunity to learn from an array of people. When I was a part of Emerging Leaders, I was partnered with an international student in the program and learned so much about his culture and way of life. It was an eye-opening experience and one that I will take with me through my career.
- Professional Experience – If you join a professional chapter student organization, you will get exposed to many professional career development opportunities. For instance, if you are a public relations major (as I am), join PRSSA. If you’re majoring in marketing, think about joining the American Marketing Association (AMA). These organizations can connect you with professionals around the area and will lead to internships, shadowing opportunities and a network of people to tap into while job searching.
- Personality and Leadership Development – If you join any type of organization, your communication skills will improve because you are interacting with different people. You will learn even more if you are on the executive board. You learn to balance education and organizational work, focusing on your personal goals. During my time at Kent State, I was a part of the executive board for PRSSA. I was also on the executive board as the public relations vice president in my Greek organization. I learned to work with many different personalities and learned a lot about my leadership and communication skills.
- Alumni Networking – Student organizations usually try to bring in alumni and ask them to share their experiences. This is a great way to network with professionals in the field who were in your seat not too long ago. You could end up really connecting with someone who could become a mentor to you during your college career (or a future employer). Alumni are also excellent resources to reach out to during a job search.
- Management Skills – Many students are not familiar with how an organization works behind the scenes. If you are on an executive board, you have the opportunity to learn how fundraising and the organization’s finances work, how to market for an event and how to work as, and manage, a team. If you’re a member, don’t be afraid to approach an officer and ask them how to become a part of the executive board. Gaining a better understanding will help you in the long run once you start working for a company.
- Friendships and Fun! – College is not all about trying to get a 4.0 GPA, finding the perfect career and making a ton of money. College is also about building lifelong relationships and having fun with your fellow classmates. Four years can fly by pretty quickly, and before you know it, you’ll be immersed in the “real world.” Don’t forget to stop every once in a while and have some fun with other members of your organizations – those memories will last a lifetime.
The sooner you join, the better off you will be. I wasn’t a part of any organizations my freshman year, and I completely regret it. If you know what you want to do as a career, join the aligning organization. Even if you don’t know and you’re simply interested, join. You never know what could happen!
What organization(s) were you a part of in college? Do you wish there was one you had joined? Why?