Your Career and You: “Optimism and Opportunity”

I’m gearing up for the PRSA International Conference held this year in San Francisco. Although I’ve been fortunate enough to have been able to go to almost every conference since I joined in 1981, I’m still looking forward to attending.

You’d think this would be “old” by now…that I would be looking at this annual pilgrimage as a burden…“I have to do this as a public relations professional.” But that’s not the case.

Instead, I find myself getting increasingly excited about the possibilities that lie ahead.
Ø  New things to learn
Ø  New people to meet
Ø  New cities to explore

This is something I try to hammer home to my undergraduate students at Curry College, especially those in my Public Relations Concentration who will (I hope) follow my footsteps and will make the PR profession their career “home.”

They soon will be venturing out into the professional world and need to understand the value of taking advantage of opportunities to learn, to meet, and to expand their horizons.

The optimism aspect is, or should be, obvious…a firm belief that learning new things and meeting new people is beneficial…that good things will come from these actions.

The opportunity part comes from the interactions that take place throughout the conference…in the breakout sessions when public relations professionals share their experiences and lessons learned as well as in the many relationships that are sparked among the conference attendees.

It’s a proactive endeavor, though. You can’t stand in a corner and wait for them to come to you…something that took me a couple of years to learn.

At first I just went to the conference and chatted (hesitantly) with folks at the dinner table or sitting beside me in sessions.

Then I figured out that, if I wanted to reallyget my money’s worth from attending, I would have to reach out and engage in conversation with people.

Now this is a “duh” moment for a lot of you, but, as many of you know…I rarely miss a chance to remind you!…I’m an introvert…not good in crowds of strangers. So imagine if you can me walking into a ballroom jammed to the rafters with unfamiliar faces! Not a pretty sight.

But I kept at it.

Why? Because along the way, others reached out to meand made me feel welcome which, in turn, encouraged me to reach out to others.

I’m not saying all’s wine and roses now, but I’ve gotten reasonably comfortable cruising the crowd to pick out familiar faces and, at the same time, walking up to total strangers, sticking out my hand, and introducing myself.

The outcome?
Ø  I’ve made awesome new friends from across the country, as well as from other countries.
Ø  I’ve met fascinating PR professionals from all walks of life.
Ø  I’ve established contacts in the areas of the PR profession that I’m interested in who I can turn to for advice and counsel.

In short, I’ve more than gotten my money’s worth by attending both PRSA events and those put on by other organizations.

And I know that the same will hold true this year in San Francisco.

I’m optimistic that I will come away with a boatload of new acquaintances whose knowledge and expertise will broaden my own capabilities.

And I am determined to take advantage of every single opportunity that arises to do so.

“Art is long, life short; judgment difficult, opportunity transient.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, “Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship” [1786-1830], bk. VII, ch. 9

About kirkhazlett

35+ years' federal government and nonprofit organization PR experience followed by more than 20 years' undergraduate and graduate college teaching experience. Community and media relations expertise, as well as a fanaticism for quality service and customer satisfaction. PR for healthcare and member services organizations ranging from Blood Bank of Hawaii to Medical Area Service Corporation to Boston Harborfest. Consulting services for Manila and Singapore Red Cross.
This entry was posted in careers, Communication, Curry College, networking, PRSA, Public Relations Society of America, Undergraduate Communication. Bookmark the permalink.

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