PR students take Motor City

Julia Bucchianeri

Our weekend started at six in the morning on Friday, Oct. 24 as we piled into the SUV that would take us to La Guardia Airport for our journey to Detroit, Mich. It was a comfortable ride and good service, other than our driver with selective hearing, which made for a great beginning for an even better weekend.

The 10 of us, all members of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapter at Quinnipiac, came together in early September and decided to attend the PRSSA National Convention. We knew that by attending we would broaden our knowledge of the public relations field–little did we know that we were in for so much more. The schedule of events was very busy, moving from session to session, listening to various speakers talk about their respective area of public relations. Some of which included Tim McIntyre, vice president of communications for Domino’s Pizza, LLC and Rose Glenn, APR, senior vice president of marketing and public relations of the Henry Ford Health System. Each speaker had valuable information about the public relations profession and helped each of us move closer to determining which area of public relations we would like to pursue.
“I learned so many things this weekend, and I feel that this experience has really helped me get a step up in my career,” sophomore public relations major Sara Villanueva said.

We were also fortunate enough to hear from some very impressive keynote speakers. Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist, graced us with his presence for a 10-minute speech before he went upstairs to talk to the actual PR professionals. Despite the length of his speech, it was still cool to see who Craig really is. Also, we couldn’t have asked for a better closing keynote speaker for the weekend as Mitch Albom talked about his books and career experiences. He quite possibly could have been the best speaker I have ever listened to. His motivational and encouraging remarks left each of us feeling enlightened and moved.

An evening of mingling gave us all a great opportunity to network with the PR professionals and swap business cards. Certain moments were a little awkward, especially when I introduced myself to one male professional and he said, “Oh Quinnipiac, so Quick-In-The-Sack?” And I smiled and nodded because I was caught so off-guard. Once everything registered, I turned and walked away from him.I probably won’t be pursuing an internship with his company.

The next day there was a career fair that had a much more professional feel. There were tables of people representing various PR firms and agencies, and we waited in line to speak to each different representative.
There was an awards ceremony on the last night of the trip held at the Detroit Institute of Arts, which is one of the country’s premiere art museums. After listening to the very active PR chapters receive their awards and watching an array of clothing walk across the stage, we were given a delicious complimentary dinner right in the middle of the museum. We were allowed to look at some of the artwork and pieces throughout the building–which was absolutely stunning.

The days were long but the nights that followed made up for any sort of drag the afternoon may have had. Detroit lived up to its name and provided us with great entertainment. One night we went to a beautiful restaurant that overlooked the water and another night we went into Greektown. If you are ever in Detroit, go to Greektown. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Kristin Fortino and Becca Westerman, both junior public relations majors that attended the conference, may tell you otherwise about Detroit. They enjoyed the trip, but the flight home put a damper on their thoughts on the city. Our flight was set for one p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 28 but we didn’t actually leave Detroit until seven that night. We were about to take off in the first plane, front wheels off the ground, and the pilot slammed on the breaks to turn back because there was a system failure. At this point, none of us were too thrilled to get back on that plane. We were switched to a different airline and got home safe and sound about seven hours later than we were supposed to.
Overall the weekend was fabulous. Close friendships were born and memories were made that will last a lifetime. We learned a lot about the public relations field and our career goals. But most importantly we learned just how much we love PR.