10841_1183566184444_1086910730_30639512_3512404_n-1.jpg It should not come as a surprise that one of the main themes at this year’s Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) National Conference was social media. Technology has become a large part of our generation and will continue to change throughout our careers in the public relations profession. Networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter allow friends to reconnect, employees to socialize and in my case introduce myself to an Olympic gold medalist.

(In photo, back row from left: Professor Christy Baily-Byers with student Cari and PRSA’s Christi Chesner; front row from left: students Lauren, Julia and Catherine)

In all honesty, I could not tell you what PRSSA stood for this time last year. I remember Professor Baily-Byers mentioning something about starting up the SMU chapter again at the end of class but couldn’t quite grasp the concept. (Sorry, BB!) Since then, I have not only been involved with the organization through my treasurer position but also received the many benefits it has to offer.

The most recent experience was our weekend at the PRSSA National Conference in San Diego. It was certainly eye-opening to learn that our generation has a bad reputation of feeling entitled and that our writing skills are less than stellar. Public relations professionals gave us tips and tricks in job searching, communicating with senior management and handling the financial communications in a tough economy. To top it all off, our SMU PRSSA chapter won three national awards – one for Professor Baily-Byers’ work, one for our PRSA relationship and one for chapter development.

My first trip to California could not have been better. Despite the fact that I was both directionally and apparel challenged, I managed to meet my rowing idol, Olympic gold medalist Susan Francia. We happened to cross paths through a social media channel (technically, I introduced myself and asked to meet her).

It was through her generosity – and empathy – that she was willing to discuss her quest for gold in Beijing and offer advice to a rowing amateur. Our meeting will hopefully be a part of my story in my journey to the national team. I am sincerely grateful to Susan for going out of her way to meet a fan and fellow rower.

Read more about our PRSSA chapter in San Diego.