I sat waiting in the Philadelphia International Airport anxiously counting the seconds until it was time to board our 8 a.m. flight to San Diego. After planning the trip since the summer, the big moment had finally arrived where we would be attending the PRSSA International Conference. All members from PRSSA and PRowl were ready to embark on something we had been waiting for for months. I had no idea that after stepping off that plane and standing on San Diego soil, that my life would change personally and professionally for the rest of my life. On the day of arrival, we attended an Opening Night Bonfire where we had the opportunity to network in a casual setting. There were students dancing, mingling and eating during this clear beautiful night. The next day quickly approached and it was the first day of the conference. The day started with a general session where all the PRSSA chapters had to participate in a roll call. There were over seven hundred students from all over the country attending this conference. After hearing all the schools represented at this conference, it was very cool to feel that I was a part of something much bigger.
The days at the conference consisted of breakout sessions on various topics regarding the PR world. I attended the “For the People: Navigating Nonprofit PR session with Mark Pilon” who is the Executive Director for Susan G. Komen Los Angeles and he spoke on the uniqueness and heart it takes to work in the nonprofit world. Another notable session I went to was called “The Gen Z Era: Learning the Intricacies of Social Media” with the Digital and Social Strategy Lead at Taco Bell. She emphasized the importance of understanding and listening to the audience when you are working in the public relations industry. The last session that was memorable to me was from Assistant Firm Director, Will Careri’s mentor in PRSA. Mark Mohammadpour’s session was entitled “Living Our Best #PR Life Through Fitness, Health and Wellness” which gave me insight on what tools I can use when I’m stressed and exercise those skills within my leadership role in the firm.
Throughout this journey, there were some really shining moments that I’ll cherish. On our second day, all of our trip members ate at a restaurant called The Crack Shack in Little Italy. We all reminisced on our high school days, first loves and the insanely good chicken that we ate. It was truly a moment where I felt truly connected to my peers.
On a personal note, I was terrified to go on this trip. I had a fear of flying and I was hoping that everything would go seamlessly. But fear can be so debilitating and can get in the way of so much happiness. I learned that in order to grow as a person, you have to let that fear go and this goes for personal and professional fears. If I had let that fear consume me, I wouldn’t have learned as much on this trip or been able to take in this experience. I will forever be grateful for the opportunities that PRSSA and PRowl have given me and this is only just the beginning.