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Small Town, Big Dreams

From left to right: Olivia Snare, Tressa Robbins, Paige Gallagher and Whitney Welker attend PRSA St. Louis' Career Development Day

I grew up in a small town – small enough that there is no population sign, only one stop sign, and my graduating class consisted of 48 people (which was considered on the large side). Needless to say, there are not a lot of public relations opportunities in my hometown. This doesn’t stop me from dreaming big, though. I have large ambitions and those stem from my roots in the agriculture industry and my family farm. It is through the relationships I’ve formed over the years that I believe I will reach my career goals. And, a big part of that is thanks to PRSSA and PRSA.

Recently, I attended the PRSA St. Louis Career Development Day. This is by far one of the most beneficial networking events I have been able to attend in my college experience. Being able to speak with professionals who range from entry- to senior-level positions gives a diverse opinion on the profession and an even wider range of answers to the questions I had. It was interesting to ask both parties what they believed was most beneficial for them in landing their jobs. 

One of the highlights for me at this year’s workshop was that I was able to network with a professional who has worked for an agency that does a lot of work for Monsanto. Hearing his story and background encourages and motivates me to keep pursuing this career. From this encounter, and others, I was able to get helpful insight on places I could seek out employment or internship opportunities. Forming those connections is a vital part of any career path, and having the opportunity to do that is incredibly beneficial.

Another benefit of Career Development Day was networking with other students. I think it’s awesome that I get the chance to meet students from other universities who are pursuing the same degree. After talking with one girl, I noticed that we both had a class very similar to one another. Given there were some differences, it was still fascinating to hear how her group was dealing with a campaign, compared to how my group approached ours. 

Being a member of my local PRSSA chapter has opened many doors for me. I have met unique young professionals who have exposed me to opportunities that I never would have thought of on my own. Having a parent organization, like PRSA, opens those doors even further. Their network is large. And, as working professionals, they know of jobs and internships that may be available. I’ve been networking my entire life through hobbies, work experience and internships, but having this professional organization as a connection has really expanded my contacts and has made me better prepared for the PR career field.

Looking back, my hometown has been such a motivating factor for me. I’m very thankful for that background because it made me who I am today. It’s made me want to better myself and strive for the best – to make an impact in a field that means so much to me. It is because of opportunities through PRSA, like the Career Development Day, that I feel I am on the right track to achieve that.

This blog post is courtesy of Whitney Welker. She is a senior public relations major with a minor in marketing management at Southeast Missouri State University. Whitney would like to pursue a career in which she can combine her communication skills and passion for agriculture. Catch up with her on Twitter @whitneywelker15.

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