After encountering countless internships, Georgia State University grad students Hina Surani and Sara Harding have found their passion in the public relations field and decide to share it with the Georgia State Chapter of Public Relations Student Society of America(PRSSA). Now, Surani works as a social media specialist for Home Depot while Sara works as an assistant on the Corporate Philanthropy team at The Woodruff Arts Center.
Surani and Harding were both members of PRSSA when they attended Georgia State. The purpose of the PRSSA Chapter at GSU is to cultivate mutual relationships between students and professional public relations practitioners. It is to provide opportunities to gain public relations experience in planning, networking, and to expose students to ideas that will enhance your understanding of the practices of the PR profession.
Members like Harding used her credentials as a fundraising officer for the chapter and it jump-start her career.
“As a fundraising officer for PRSSA GSU Chapter, I raised money through small bake sales communicating with major sports teams, networked with potential sponsors and organized sponsorship events,” says Harding. “Going in I wish I was better with rejection, especially working with philanthropy because when you ask people for money, you get rejected a lot. I’m really good with rejection now.”
In the past five years, PRSSA chapter at GSU has maintained about 80 members and hopes to exceed over 100 members by the end of the year. It provides its members with numerous internship opportunities and guest speakers to get their perspective on how the real world treats them.
“PRSSA helps members to embrace the PR industry by learning from current professionals,” says Devika Agnihotri, president of GSU PRSSA chapter. “The organization gives them a way to plan out their future and career and professional support system.”
Surani has been successful in her professional career, because she never stopped interning until she knew what exactly she wanted to do. It started for her at PRSSA at Georgia State. Being a member, Surani wrote pitches for local clients around Metro Atlanta, helped create strategies to increase social media presence, and attended biweekly meetings to discuss goals and objectives of clients such as NaanStop, Regional Commission on Homelessness, and Atlanta Airport Rotary Club.
“When accepting a job offer that seems fairly low, you can accept it if you want that experience,” says Surani. “You have to think strategically where you are in your life. I had my parents backing me up, a lot of people don’t.”
PRSSA helps you develop in-depth understanding of various fields in the PR industry. There are numerous opportunities students can take advantage of in this organization not to mention, there’s a membership to the professional organization, Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). With PRSSA, students have the chance to attend conferences in different states and network among the PR community to get a feel of what it’s like out in the working field.
“PRSSA opens doors for members by having networking opportunities, internship opportunities, and job opportunities,” says PRSSA President Agnihotri.
As for Harding, she currently works at the largest arts educator in Georgia and the third largest arts center in the country. Her various tasks include managing solicitations, event organizing, and donor stewardship. In school, she interned at the Atlanta History Center, where she worked in the marketing department.
Surani is currently working on the Associate Communications team at Home Depot and is responsible for supporting a wide array of businesses within Home Depot. From her many internships, she brings experience in traditional communications as well as social and digital media campaign execution.
The best advice given by these two PR professionals, was to never give up. “This is the industry that is extremely competitive,” says Surani. “Constantly take up internships until you find the right one for you, take advantage of the career center at Georgia State because they provide mock interviews, and make sure your resume is clean and appealing to the eyes.”