September 28, 2010 at 10:52 pm

‘Tis the season, I guess.

I spent one evening last week with a bunch of eager students forming the Fairleigh Dickenson University PRSSA chapter. PRSSA, of course, is the student affiliate of the Public Relations Society of America.  

While it was the first meeting ever for the Fairleigh chapter, PRSSA chapters are having their annual organizational meetings all over the country. As a public relations professional, it strikes me as an exciting time.  I’m much closer to the end of my career than the beginning of it, and to see the enthusiasm of these young people just starting out charges my batteries.

Throughout the year, I work on scholarship programs, judge contests like the Bateman Award and, if I’m asked to, I meet with students when I attend the PRSA International Conference. When we had an intern program at my company, I enjoyed working with my interns. I always learned from them and felt they left with a little better understanding of what public relations really is. Ironically, one of the most satisfying experiences was when a student worked with me for two semesters and came to me and told me he had decided he didn’t like public relations. Better now, I figured, than after he had finished his degree and started working his first job! Of course, other interns have gone on to major PR agencies, to internships at the Vatican and to counsel state legislators…but I’m bragging now.

While some students leave me shaking my head, most impress me. Bateman Award entries almost always leave me very impressed with the quality of thinking and with the work that’s produced.  I always get a feeling that our profession will be in good hands.

Some things do worry me. As I looked around the room at Fairleigh Dickenson the other night, there were only two or three young men. The number of minority women was equally small. Why aren’t we attracting more men and more minorities into our profession? This, of course, continues to be a topic of discussion every year and I certainly don’t know the answer. But we need to find an answer.

What I do know is this: If you have the opportunity to get involved with young public relation students, I urge you to do it. It keeps you on your toes and is very satisfying. If you’d like to get involved, but don’t how, drop me a line. I’ll hook you up.

And to the students: Have a good year.

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