Friday marks the start of this year’s PRSA & PRSSA National Conference being held in Washington D.C. I’m sure that most of you students have been preparing for a couple weeks now and anxiously awaiting October 15th. As I’ve said earlier I’m very jealous that I won’t be able to attend this year. In leu of flying across the country I’ve decided to put together a last minute, make sure you have it, list. Keep this one handy for any future business trips. It’s the litte things that can make or break a trip.
Let’s start off with clothing, it’s a basic unless you want to live out the nightmare of being in front of an audience in your birthday suit.
I’m going to assume you know what business professional clothing to pack and will cover the things that one always forgets.
- Make sure you pack static guard (ladies especially) I know it’s fall the humidity is pretty much gone but when you’re in a giant conference center for days on end you’d be surprised.
- Tide-To-Go make sure you have it in your purse / bag at all times. Especially when you’re shoving that jelly donut in your mouth while speed walking and catching up with old friends…disaster waiting to happen as Mom used to say.
- Ladies – CLEAR nail polish; not because a manicure sets you apart from the heard during the job fair. Use it on your tights or nylons if they rip. Just a little dab on the small hole or run and it’ll stop it from getting bigger.
- Make sure you have starch with you for your ironing. Also take the time to fold your clothing neatly (or roll it for more room.)
- When you get to the hotel HANG up your clothing! Even if it’s a nice knit top or polo it’s better to hang everything so any wrinkles from travel can fall out.
- Extra resume paper. Every time I’ve gone to a conference I’ve realized during one session or another that I want to edit my resume. Having a dozen or so extra sheets of your good resume stock paper will allow you to print out the new version in the hotel. If for some reason they don’t have a business center (or the printer in there is broken) ask the front desk if you can print from their printers, they have never let me down.
- A flash drive with past work on it. You never know where a networking session may lead. Someone might request to see that amazing pitch you wrote or want to see how well you ACTUALLY know how to use a graphics program to design material.
- Business Cards. I suggest that while you’re still in school you make them more like calling cards. Just your name, your PRSSA affiliation “Member since 2008,” and your basic contact information. Also make a business gmail account. Your LEGAL name @ gmail.com, NOT firstname.lastname@example.org totally inappropriate. I’ve seen students with business cards that had emails like that.
- A portfolio, no not the huge ones that your art school friends haul around. A nice leather bound (or whatever you like) legal pad sized portfolio. Make sure it has a place for a pen, business cards and a flap for loose papers you may acquire during a session, and of course room for note paper. You’ll want to take notes, and if you don’t it’ll fly in one ear and out the other. (Trust me)
- Gum or those mini tooth brush things – because you’re often running from session to lunch to networking session. You don’t want garlic breath or stuff in your teeth when speaking with one of the higher ups at your dream PR Firm.
- Your elevator pitch. Have a 30 second bio of yourself, what you’re currently doing and where you want to be….here’s an example. “Hi, Whitney Oppenhuizen, great to meet you! I’m just starting my PR career and completed an internship at a boutique PR firm while doing contract work remotely for a PR firm in the midwest and some small business clients. I’m moving to Laramie for a temp postion this week and am still on the hunt for a full time PR job. Most of my experience lies in Non-profit and social media PR and I’m currently looking for a position that will utilize and expand that knowledge.” Being articulate is of utmost importance, people need to know you can convey a point or product well in moments.
- Your smile! Just remember to “mind your manners” and be open to everyone you meet. You never know when or where your next opportunity could come from.
Good luck at the conference and have fun, grab a souvenir clicky pen for me while you’re at it.