To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect. With less than a year left at Seattle University, turning the gears beyond my eventual internship and remaining classes seemed like a good idea, and the PRSA Jumpstart was my first opportunity. Featuring a number of assorted speakers including a former professor and personal friend, there was just enough familiarity in the line-up to assure some level of quality and qualm any sort of unfamiliar anxiety.
Offering mock-interviews and resume scans, the local PR gurus kicked off the event with some practical, applicable, real-word input that I’m sure myself and everyone in that room could’ve used. Not having a resume nor in the mood for a 9am role-play, I politely declined and quickly found the coffee. With SU’s Strat. Comm. major being as small as it is I soon fell in with a handful of classmates, each of whom I had shared at least one class with.
Though heavily promoted throughout the communications department, we were by no means the only school there, with PLU, Central, UW and others across the city in attendance. Certainly a smaller gathering than I expected, however, with few more than 60 or so people ranging in age from 19 to almost 50. As a male I was one of less than a dozen there.
Once everyone’d got their chance to grab a nametag and glad-hand, wheels began to turn and Mark Firmani of Firmani & Associates was introduced. Five minutes into him explaining the importance of a good GPA and what annoyed him most about new kids in PR, I realized after scanning the lineup that all those with little to say were set to go while the auditorium was still waking up. I am by no means an expert when it comes to professional behavior, but at 26 years the value of a 3.5 and decent pants is not rocket science. He was nice enough to share his email address in the event any of us had questions, but that was his best contribution.
By the time he left it was 11, and even with a pen, notebook and ready mind I found little worth noting in the next three hours. I was disappointed to see that included my old professor and friend Whitney Keyes, who spent the majority of her time giving an extensive life story while promoting her book.
Highlight of the gathering was easily a gent from Microsoft, a Kyle Warnick. Personal branding was what he had to tell us about, and did a mighty fine job with his own six-step process and its strong emphasis on storytelling. However aside from his encouragement to be yourself, invent yourself, make plans and meet people, he was wanting for solid material.
When the event at last dispersed I was glad I’d come, what with the notes I’d taken and the few classmates rubbing shoulders. I’d rather it didn’t cost me $40, but I guess that’s tuition? I’ll go looking for people before I start collecting how-to books… Call me a cynic, but it’s always the relationships that’ve taught me most. Not to mention cheaper.