So, what’s in it for students? Time to bust myths…

When you’re no longer a student, it becomes quite easy to forget what it’s all about. I don’t mean the study load and crazy moonlight hours – those things have a tendency to stick in your memory. I mean the uncertainty. And not just about your future career prospects (heck, people in the workforce still go through that). I’m talking about simply not knowing the services and supports that professional associations like IABC can provide.

I imagine that was the thinking behind Thursday’s “Fall Kick Off Networking Event with PR Professionals”, hosted by the University of Ottawa’s Public Relations Association (@uOPRA) on October 24, 2013. Organized by Sharon Cheung and Amanda Kirkpatrick, the event brought together students and representatives from IABC and the Canadian Public Relations Society to break down some of the perceived barriers and mysteries about the PR profession and the working world.

Good enough?
From chatting with students, it became apparent they often don’t even know that associations like IABC exist – so we need to do a better job of putting ourselves on their radar.

We also need students to know that although our website looks sharp, this does not mean our organization is too “professional” for students. No! Besides, poise and polish come with time and practice – and what better way for students to work on that than to join an association, come out to events, network with professionals, and volunteer in public relations roles themselves.

Are we all business?
Another common misconception about IABC is that it is for “business communicators” only (those are two predominant words in our name). In contrast, many of our local members belong to non-profit associations. And business communications is only one of the many things our members do, in addition to government relations, event management, media and public relations, social media management, digital content strategy, etcetera.

From my conversations with students the other day, I was, on the one hand, impressed by their focus and direction; several told me exactly what they wanted to do when they graduate, including the type of public relations role and industry sector. On the other hand, speaking from experience, I can tell students that your career trajectory will twist and change. You may start out in one field and end up somewhere very different. You may also find that you don’t enjoy something as much as you expected to and, on the flip side, an occupation may catch you unaware and enamour you with its possibilities.

Open minds, open doors
So keep an open mind and be prepared for change. And what better way to try your hand at different tasks, make connections, and polish your professional skills than by joining and volunteering with an association like IABC?

L-R: Tina Barton, Sharon Cheung, Lindsay Gavey, Kristina Martin

L-R: Tina Barton, Sharon Cheung, Lindsay Gavey, Kristina Martin

So keep an eye on our upcoming events, learn more about membership, and let us know if you have any questions. You can reach me and the membership team by emailing: membership[at]ottawa[dot]iabc[dot]com.

Tina Barton is Vice-President of Membership for IABC Ottawa. She loves hearing from members and engaging with the community. Connect on Twitter @TinaMBarton.

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