By Karlee Bland
This past Friday the Indiana University PRSSA chapter took a trip up to Indianapolis to network with public relations and media representatives of the Indiana Pacers, NCAA, and the Indianapolis Colts. Throughout the trip, members were able to tour facilities and listen to professionals in their respective fields talk about their journeys to get to the positions they are in today. All of the speakers came from different backgrounds and had different steps they took to work in Indianapolis, but there were several common sentiments used across the board as advice to college students looking to enter the field of sports PR and media: networking is important, work hard in your internships, and be open-minded. Every single group we met with agreed that these are some of the most important factors in their success and the success of those who will come after them.
The first thing that everyone in the PR field will tell incoming graduates is that networking is important for success. Networking is important because the more positive connections you make with people in your field, the wider employment options are available to you as you work your way up the ladder. You could work with someone in your first internship who moves on to work at the Indiana Pacers, who, when asked for a recommendation for a position that opens up, may remember the hard-working intern that they knew and give them your name. Making a good impression on those you work with and seizing every opportunity to meet more people in your field could very well lead to a job opportunity in the future.
In addition to networking, you have to make a good impression on people you network with, and the best places to make impressions is internships. Often internships are where public relations professionals form relationships with others in their field and those relationships are what help you in the future. Current professionals insist that how you perform in your internship will greatly impact your success in the future. Every group we met with stressed that interns need to be consistent and dependable and need to be proactive in their position, which means being available both when you are expected to be and when you say you will be, no questions asked. The harder you work at your position, the greater impact you will make on those you are there to help, and in the future they could recommend you to a job based off of how well you did.
The final piece of advice that was taken away from Friday was to be open minded. There are only a set number of public relations seats for the NFL or NBA or MLB and professionals in the field say to not limit yourself to those positions only. They say to send your resumes out to more than just the ideal jobs you want, but also to not just send them anywhere. In this field (especially sports PR), planning your future is not the easiest due to limited availability. Take the opportunities when they are presented, and the next opportunity will follow as long as you work hard where you are.