As someone who thrives on a busy schedule, I have always looked to “extra-curricular” activities and organizations to help build my skill set. I currently sit on the board of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), Chicago Chapter, as the chair of the Young Professionals Network, and have found the work extremely beneficial. Not only do I have the opportunity to attend helpful professional development events, but I also get to build skills that I can apply to my daily work at LCWA.
- Account management – As I get more involved in PRSA, I view my responsibilities for the organization the same way I do for my clients – though PRSA requires more time in the off-hours. The Young Professionals Network has several new projects running at any one time. From workshops and socials to social media development, sponsorship and recruitment – our 15-person committee has a lot to manage. I’ve been able to polish my organizational skills to help our committee stay on track and provide quality programming for the young PR professionals of Chicago.
- Leadership – Becoming involved as a committee chair, or even running a project with an outside organization, is a great way to brush up on leadership skills – especially for young professionals who don’t always have this opportunity at the office. Here I get to flex my strategic-thinking muscles, run meetings and make “executive” decisions. I have learned supervisory skills managing the committee and as a result feel very comfortable reporting progress up the chain at our monthly board meetings – all talents I now put into practice in my new position as account supervisor.
- Networking – I attend several events each month and more often than not, I am put into a room or situation where I do not know anyone. Although it can be uncomfortable at first, this is one of my favorite parts of PRSA. Not only do I get to meet new people and build relationships, but I can talk to people in my industry about current trends and tools and in many cases, use my connections to help others. My golden rule of networking is to talk to at least three people I don’t know and make a considerable effort to follow-up with each person after the event. From my networking I’ve made several great friends and exchanged great PR ideas.
I hope you’ll take the opportunity to get involved and consider volunteering for a professional organization – not only will you benefit your own skill set, but you’ll have fun along the way meeting new people and giving back to the community.