Written by Brooke Snider
“I’m not who you think I am; I’m not who I think I am. I am who I think you think I am.”Thomas Cooley.
As my chapter of college nears its end, I recognize the imposter syndrome that has consumed me. Though these words of imposter syndrome have a negative connotation I believe that it has taught me personal growth as a young professional. The Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) has taught me to be better than my fears, take risks, make mistakes, and have fun.
The members of the University of Central Missouri chapter of PRSSA continually push me to achieve greatness and support me unconditionally. Recently, they supported me on my journey attending PRSA ICON 2022 in Dallas. I was a little hesitant at first, but my community of public relations peers encouraged me to take on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity which I will be forever grateful for. If you are feeling imposter syndrome or just trying to figure out where to start as you develop from being a young professional to an industry professional, here are a few tips for success that I learned at PRSA ICON 2022.
Tip #1: Get comfortable with being uncomfortable
Ashley Capps and Garrett Shipman from Frito Lay North America highlighted this concept well when presenting how to build brand awareness. What I gained from this discussion was that it is important to continually ask questions, brainstorm new ideas, and voice your opinions. Oh! And back up your opinions with data. Corporate culture gets things done fast so it is imperative to be on the same page and create innovative ideas.
When you feel the most uncomfortable is when you are often creating real change and growing as a professional. Ashley expressed that the Frito Lay Cracker Jill campaign, which is the counter to the former brand Cracker Jack, started off as an uncomfortable venture. Today, it is widely perceived as a brand that empowers younger generations of girls. This is an instance where someone was inspired and brought their idea to the table to grow the brand of Frito Lay. As public relations professionals, we build our personal brand by asking questions and putting our ideas out there even if they are seen as different.
Tip #2: Network, Network, Network
At the conference, this was drilled into us as we met with hundreds of PRSSA and PRSA members. This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring people together from around the United States at one conference. I networked while attending seminars led by guest speakers, walking from one event to another, and even in line waiting for the restroom. Networking isn’t something you force; it is a conversation of exchanging what you want in your career or questions you have and listening to the other person what they want and questions they might have. You never know what a relationship with someone will bring. They may not be pursuing the industry of your choosing, but they might have a friend that can get your foot in the door to that industry. Case in point, thanks to the generous support of the UCM PRSC alumni, many of whom I’ve built relationships with during my time as a student, I was given the opportunity to attend this conference. Networking is easy as long as you are willing to take initiative, listen and put yourself out there.
Tip #3: Get Involved & Have Fun
When listening to several guest speakers they continually taught me about the valuable lesson of showing up and having fun. They mentioned how involved they were in PRSSA as college students and how most of their friends have now joined PRSA with them. It is great to hear stories like that because often we as students—I believe—don’t understand our impact of being present. Having fun is a part of being young, trying new things, making mistakes, and owning those mistakes. Overall, PRSA ICON 2022 was an amazing experience, and I can be more grateful that I was able to take part in it. I recognize the imposter syndrome I had, and I take it as a reminder of how far I have come and how much further I have to go. I am not who you think I am. I am the innovative, creative, and positive professional that I think I am.