I think I'm a bit partial, due to having worked at Southeastern until earlier this year, but I have to say this- one thing Southeastern University's Development Office knows how to do is to put on a function. The staff in the Development Office have done an amazing job of sharing that valuable skill set with the student FPRA chapter. The students were wonderful and President Leah Spellman was on the ball throughout the function.
More than once throughout the meeting, I heard fellow FPRA members talking about how beautiful the campus was, how helpful the staff and students were and how effortlessly the luncheon seemed to flow.
Several of the student chapter's 15 members were pinned today. I hope that they get all they can out of their membership. I am guilty of not using my membership to its fullest extent, so I hope the students won't follow in my footsteps in that regard.
Southeastern Vice President for Development James L. Davis was today's speaker, and he shared some fascinating information on the school's growth in recent years.
- The school's budget has grown from $14 million to $40 million in the past eight years.
- There were 910 students enrolled when President Mark Rutland came to Southeastern in 1999. Today there are 3,069 students enrolled.
- New academic buildings and a new performing arts center are slated to be built.
- Off-site campuses are being considered in Europe, the Middle East and California.
- Efforts are in place to double the school's $5 million endowment within the next five years.
- Two more master's degree programs and the university's first doctorate degree will be offered in Fall 2008.
Davis spoke about the university's leadership and how they got the school from being within six months of permanently closing its doors to being a thriving Christian university with lots of growth potential.
All in all, the information was great for a public relations crowd, because most people in public relations have dealt with fundraising at some level. Going into the meeting, I worried that it might turn into a shameless plea for money. After all, Davis is tasked with raising large sums of money for the school each year. He bordered on going overboard toward the end, but overall, his message was good. Davis is a great speaker and he's very engaging.
For Journalism/PR Students
Today's meeting drove home once again how important it is, in my opinion, for students to get involved in organizations such as FPRA. These student organizations and their partnerships with the local professional organizations are an amazing way to make contacts within the profession, to open themselves up to valuable internship opportunities and to shadow professionals in the workplace.
I had a delightful conversation with two student chapter members today and we talked at length about internships, getting that first job, etc. They were nervous about it. They asked questions about their resumes. They wondered if their lack of professional experience would make it difficult to land a great internship or that great first job. I hope that by the end of our conversation, I had alleviated some of their fears, because they are in a GREAT position right now. They're in college, they're a member of FPRA and they have a ton of resources at their disposal because of that.
I gave them my business card and told them if they would email me, I would be happy to send them information on some great PR books I've read recently, as well as an idea for a resume when you don't have a lot of professional experience. I hope they take me up on my offer.
I also hope other FPRA members will extend similar offers to the students at both the Southeastern and the Florida Southern College FPRA chapters. We've amassed a great deal of knowledge in our careers, and I think we owe it to the younger generation to share what we can and help make them as successful as they want to become.
It's refreshing to see students so engaged in their education and in their plans after college. I want to do whatever I can to help them.
So for all you journalism/PR students out there: this is my open invitation to you. Ask me your questions. Share your concerns. If I can't provide answers for you, I will attempt to point you in the direction of someone who can.
In the mean time, I've written several blogs lately that might be of help to college journalism/PR students. Here's one on the importance of checking your work when writing and editing . There also are some blogs about a magazine internship, other internships and choosing those internships wisely.