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Being Proactive Freshman Year Makes A Difference

By: Kelly Franklin

As a freshman PR student, I was often told that it doesn’t matter what you do freshman year. Wait until you’re older, they said. You’re too young, they said. I did not wait. And you shouldn’t either. I firmly believe that my involvement freshman year jumpstarted my future career and created so many opportunities that I never could have imagined if I would have just sat back and waited.

My first recommendation is to join clubs. I joined Texas PRSSA and Texas Tower PR as a freshman and both clubs gave me the reassurance that public relations is where I’m meant to be. Through PRSSA, I was able to hear guest speakers talk about their different companies and learn about their insights in the industry. I attended agency tours and got to see how differently most PR offices function as compared to the ordinary office setting.

One of the most valuable resources I gained through PRSSA was taking advantage of their mentorship program. The mentors want to get to know you and help you in any way they can. They are a valuable resource to get advice and learn from. One mentor even led me to a job, that I still work at.

Texas Tower PR threw me into first hand PR experience by letting me do PR work for non-profits.

I interacted with a real client, ran their social, helped write a press release and pitch media. It was an incredible learning experience and it gave me an edge over competition when I later began searching for internships, since most of my peers had no experience and I stood out from getting involved early.

My second recommendation is to go to the career fair. So what, you’re too young and you probably won’t get hired. Going to the career fair as a freshman, I got a lot of no’s or people who didn’t want to speak with me because they were only looking for upperclassmen or someone with more experience. I wasn’t looking for a job freshman year, I was only looking to get my feet wet. I went to build connections, ask questions and to know what to expect in the future.

Having attended the career fair early on made it less intimidating when it came time to really start searching for internships and jobs. When I went as a sophomore and then as a junior there were recruiters who recognized me and remembered how young and ambitious I was. They were ready to talk to me, hear what have been up to and offer me interviews that could lead to jobs.

Don’t let age or inexperience stop you from putting yourself out there and challenging yourself. If you position yourself within opportunities that may later lead to success, then you are already going to be more successful than the person next to you. Join the clubs and attend the career fair, you’ll be surprised in how much it will benefit you in the long run.

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