PR Advanced: Embrace the Possibilities
COM recently sat down with Alex Hyken (’15) and Mike DeFilippis (’13) to find out more about the Spring 2013 PR Advanced student conference hosted for the seventh consecutive time by Boston University’s PRSSA (Public Relations Student Society of America). Alex is the 2013 conference coordinator, and Mike currently serves as president of the Boston University PRSSA.
What is PR Advanced? Tell us what your theme is this year and why you chose it.
Alex Hyken: PR Advanced: Embrace the Possibilities is a professional development conference that presents attendees with insight into the communications world. This year, our theme focuses on an understanding that there is no single way to a successful communications career.
When I was thinking about what the theme should be last summer, I realized that many aspects of the industry overwhelmed me. As a PR student, I felt like I was constantly hearing about how I need to stay on top of the news, how I need to know how to use upcoming technology, or how I need to be on every social media platform. But not all of that is important to me, which led to the question: How do I follow the path that I want?
What are you hoping students will take away from the conference?
Alex Hyken: I want students to feel more comfortable about their fit in the communications world. Today, you can choose what you want to do with your career, but there are an overwhelming number of choices. Our goal is to help students find their fit.
Mike DeFilippis: We hope that they will realize there is not one way to a career. As we’ve epitomized in the theme this year, there are so many options. Had I attended this conference years ago, I would have realized I wanted to do political and government PR. It took me so long to figure that out. On a personal level, I hope that younger students will absorb as much of this knowledge as they can. We don’t get to take our core classes until junior and senior year so this is a place where younger students can get a head start on concepts like corporate social responsibility, content marketing, and other concepts that we learn in class.
PR Advanced is hosted by the PRSSA on campus, can you tell us more about the group and who can join?
Mike DeFilippis: On a national level, PRSSA is the foremost organization for students interested in public relations and communications. It’s made up of over 11,000 members and we’re just one of 300 chapters across the country. Our chapter here at BU, also known as the Edward L. Bernays Chapter, is committed to helping our members enhance their amazing public relations education, broaden their networks, and, eventually, launch their careers.
Despite there being nine other regional conferences each year, we’re very well-known for our conference. It is nearly the gold standard against which all other regional conferences are measured. We have people asking us about our process all the time. This is a record sixth year in a row that our conference has been nationally affiliated. This is pretty impressive since we have to apply for national affiliation each year. No other chapter has had six in a row, let alone four or five.
You’ve both been very involved with PRSSA, do you think it will help your career search?
Alex Hyken: Being involved in PRSSA is a huge resume booster. It shows that you are truly interested in your career and have probably learned some skills that aren’t traditionally taught in the classroom. Plus, many students get involved in our student-run agency, Unleashed PR, planning our conference, or writing for our blog. Any of these experiences can be added to portfolios as well.
Mike DeFilippis: I came into COM as a Film and TV major until my good friend (and PRSSA past president) Ginny Soskey dragged me to a networking event she was helping plan. At the time I was working on butv10 as an executive producer of Terrier Nation. Before I knew it I was chatting with a BU alum who also worked at butv10, and we hit it off. Turned out he was working for Gov. Deval Patrick’s 2010 re-election campaign. He asked me if I might be interested in interning for him and, to his delight, I said yes. That marked the point at which I knew I wanted to pursue political PR. You never know who you might meet at these networking events.
Additionally, employers love students who are involved in PRSSA. Why? Just being a member demonstrates an added interest in the field. The PRSSA National Internship center gets postings that are not listed anywhere else. That’s how much employers love PRSSA students. If that doesn’t convince you, I’ve spoken to some other employers that say they throw out résumés from students who are not involved in PRSSA. It will help your career search, trust me.
Alex Hyken (’15) is the 2013 PR Advanced conference coordinator and is majoring in public relations. Although still a sophomore, Alex has already interned at Jambox Entertainment and Shepard Presentations and is interested in entertainment. She can’t wait for the opportunity to connect with professionals and other PRSSA Chapters at the PR Advanced Conference, and, of course, the new executive board.
Mike DeFilippis (’13) is the current president of BU PRSSA and is majoring in mass communication with a minor in French language. He is extremely honored to be serving as Chapter President this year. Mike has previously served as both digital media coordinator and events coordinator. He has also served on the PR Advanced Regional Conference Committee each year. In addition to PRSSA, Mike has been involved with the student-run TV station, butv10. He has a wide variety of internship experiences including political campaigns, digital firms and government offices.
PR Advanced takes place on Feb. 23, 2013 at the Photonics Center on the BU campus. To find out more and register visit: pradvanced.com