Updated: May 1
My quarter of industry conferences and volunteer opportunities
By: Christina Milich
Before I jump into this post, some background is important. I have been a PRAD major since the second week of my freshman year and have been on the executive board of PRSSA since Winter Quarter of the same year. Now, I am a senior. Before this year, connections I have made through PRSSA have gotten me internships as well as connected me with amazing professionals that are currently helping me on the job search.
This quarter, however, has been my first quarter being completely involved with the PRAD Program in-person, leading to even more opportunities that were crammed into an incredibly short time. Since August, before the school year even started, I have attended six industry events along with programming hosted by DePaul PRSSA.
Below is a list of events I have attended and some memorable moments from each. These events collectively showcase the power of studying in the award-winning PRAD Program and the Windy City’s place in the PR industry.
I have attended two Chicago PRSA YPN Professional Development Events this year. The first was hosted at Edelman and discussed what young professionals are looking for in a job. The panel was enlightening and discussed so many incredible and timely topics like in-person vs. hybrid vs. remote modalities, and ways to connect with your team and manager. I was also able to get a free headshot taken on the Edelman rooftop!
The second event was at Kemper-Lesnik and discussed how to know when to leave your first job. This, as a student, was a question that I hadn’t dedicated much time to thinking about. However, I am so glad I went and gained this perspective. Hearing from young professionals about their experiences at work and how they decided to move on from their first role has better prepared me for my first position and what to look for in a job. It has also helped me feel prepared for when the time inevitably comes that I leave my first role.
The second event I attended was the annual Page Conference. I was able to volunteer at the conference, and it was truly a remarkable opportunity. The Page Society is a society of Chief Communications Officers and Executives from around the world. I was a volunteer for all four days of the conference and each day was different and amazing. I was able to sit in and listen to sessions, as well as participate at different points when necessary. One session that stood out to me was a remarkable crisis simulation. This was my first time being able to listen through the higher-level decision-making processes that may occur in a crisis communication scenario. I highly recommend volunteer engagements to any student who gets the chance to be involved in that way. I was able to attend the networking portions of the event as a regular attendee which gave me ample time to meet and network with high-ranking communication professionals. I even got to go to an amazing dinner at the Museum of Science and Industry! All the members were incredibly nice and willing to spend time talking with me, sharing advice and even connecting with me on LinkedIn!
The next event I was able to attend was PRDecoded put on by PRWeek. I went to both days of this event and heard from industry leaders on a variety of topics, specifically focused on impact and purpose in the industry. One memorable presentation was on the rebranding and updating campaigns for Midol. I was also able to reconnect with many of the industry professionals I have met at PRSSA events in the past! I met students from the University of Florida’s PRSSA and the Black Public Relations Society. While my attendance for this event was organized by the PRAD Program, it was sponsored by MSL, a global PR agency. On the second day, students attended a lunch hosted by the firm and were able to connect with employees at MSL and the US CEO Diana Littman to hear all about their experience at MSL and their public relations journey.
The next event is one that is incredibly special to me. At the beginning of November, I attended The Plank Center Milestones in Mentoring Gala. This event is put on every year by the Plank Center to honor professionals who have dedicated time in their careers to mentoring others. Mentoring is invaluable and something that can not only change careers, but lives. I think it is amazing to have an event honoring people who have made an impact on others and dedicated their careers to mentoring. My mentor, who is also an adjunct professor at DePaul, Joseph Tateoka, was honored a few years ago. This was my second time attending this event and it was even better than last year. The whole night I was able to reconnect with many of the professionals I have met throughout my time in the PRAD Program, as well as be introduced to new great people throughout the evening. I was also able to discuss potential work and internship opportunities with professionals from agencies, internal communications, in-house practices, and more.
The last event I was able to attend this quarter was the PRSSA International Conference (ICON). There is so much to say about this event (Look out for another PRess post in the next few weeks!)... It was great to be able to catch up with a connection of mine, David Grossman, and hear from tremendous companies and people like PepsiCo and Marlee Matlin.
In all, this quarter has been life-changing professionally and has given me the opportunities and education I need to be able to find and succeed when looking for career options.
Christina Milich is an undergraduate senior in the PRAD Program and the 2022-23 DePaul PRSSA Vice President of Membership.