Fund Raising, PRSSA style

What do ice cream, guys in Speedos, fifty cent brownies have to do with each other?

They’ve all been part of some of the many fundraisers we’ve done!

Since joining PRSSA in 2007, I’ve been privy to quite a few creative ideas that have been on the table to get us money for our various chapter needs.  A few don’t pan out, and some are less than thrilling, but overall, fundraisers are a great way to get to know your fellow members and make some money that will directly benefit your PRSSA experience.

Previously, we’ve taken shifts at Coldstone Creamery which gives us a percentage of the night’s sales depending on how much ice cream is sold.  Hands-down the best part of working there, even for an hour or two, is sampling all of the ice cream.  My go-to flavor is oatmeal cookie batter, except for the late falls months when pumpkin ice cream is the only thing you should be eating.

During my freshman year, we did Coldstone night in November—not exactly an ideal time to rake in big bucks on ice cream sales.  Timing is a key element when putting on fundraisers, and the next year we were proactive in making sure we were behind the counter during the first week of classes in August.

Personally, my favorite fundraiser was one we just completed.  At the intramural co-ed swim meet on October 4th, eight members were awarded $300 for the chapter by being back-up timers one early Saturday morning!  We really lucked out in that, although it was a home football game, the intramural meets are shorter and people were able to leave in time to watch the game or continue tailgating.  The swimmers were extremely nice and very appreciative of us, and I think I’m not just speaking for myself when I say that particular fundraiser was especially easy on the eyes.

Another of my favorite fundraisers (boy howdy, I sure do like making money) is the PRSSA bake sale in AJB!  Not only do I enjoy this because I am ob-SESS-ed with baking, but working at the table gives you great interaction with some of the more colorful characters that roam our hallowed halls.  Also, people are super supportive of anyone selling awesome baked goods at bargain-basement prices.  The sampling that may or may not go on is also a highlight.

But Brittney, where does this money go?  I know you’re asking, so I’ll TELL YOU.  As rewarding as the fundraisers themselves can be, what we do with the money is about a million times better.  Money for hotels, gas, etc. is needed when we go on agency tours or to conferences, end-of-the-semester banquets and socials, some overhead costs, PR Day, possibly bringing in certain speakers—the list of what we can do with our chapter funds is never ending!

The most important part of fundraising, my PRSSA minions, is that you NEED TO GET INVOLVED.  The same five or six people can’t raise all of the money for the entire chapter—everyone needs to pull their own weight.  This making money stuff is not hard—it’s really fun and we don’t even notice that we’re working because there’s bonding, there’s laughing, and more often than not, there’s a trip to the Airliner afterward.

If YOU have an awesomely creative idea (or even a really obvious one we’ve never thought of before) please, please, please speak up!  We’re always looking for ways to get money for our chapter and get our name out on campus.

By: Brittney Wichtendahl, PR Director

A word from the wise… Caroline Jones

No matter where you are at now towards finishing your degree, there is still plenty you could be doing in your spare time between classes, work and PRSSA.  When I sat down to write this post, several tidbits came to my mind that have been helpful to me during college and my job search and others I wish I would have known about earlier.

Start by thinking about where you are now in terms of your skill set and what you want to accomplish by the time you graduate.  It helps if you first make a list of your long term goals.  What do you want to be doing professionally when you are 25? 30? 40? Make a list.  Next, make a list of your goals you want to complete by the end of college and a list of goals you want to complete by the end of the school year.  You know how good it feels to cross off something on your to-do list?  Make your goals happen by finding out what you know and what you need to know.  You need to be a sponge and absorb as much information you can.

The following are merely suggestions, everyone has to take their own path.  You won’t get land an awesome internship or job after college by being the same as everyone else.

Start early!
When you are a freshman or sophomore, join student organizations that align with your interests and sign up to join committees.  Try to be as active as you can.  You are still learning how to manage your time and live on your own and with roommates.  You want to learn early on what you like doing and what you don’t, especially if you still are unsure what you want to do after college.  Chances are if you are new to a group you won’t get to work on the most exciting projects right away, but you will fill some space on your resume that may help you land your first internship experience.  Find things that motivate you to do your best work and explore them to their fullest.

When I was a freshman, I was told you need at least one internship to get a job when you graduate.  Economic factors aside, this is no longer the case.  You need as much experience as you can get your hands on and you need to be able to demonstrate on your resume and in the interview that you made the world a better place because of what you did.  Visit the Career Center and the lovely peer advisers will assist you with this.  Send your resume to someone you look up to and ask them for input.  Some people may give you conflicting advice, but you have to make it work for you.  Find as many mentors as you can.

There are a number of resources outside of the university that will help you.  I recommend referring to the national PRSSA resources, Careerealism, Entry Level Careers Examiner, Come Recommended, and setting up a Twitter account if you don’t already have one to follow career experts and recruiters at companies you are interested in learning more about.  It’s easy to keep track of a lot of information in one central place and it’s always evolving to include more features that will make tracking information more efficient.

By the time you are a junior or senior you should have at least one or two internships under your belt and have substantial information on your resume from your experience with PRSSA or with another organization.  Some people may think it’s too much to handle working a job or internship during the school year, but I will tell you this:  the semesters in which I took the heaviest class load and worked part time jobs and internships while being active in PRSSA were my most productive semesters and I earned the best grades I’ve had throughout college.  There is always more you could be doing with your time and when you feel ready to take on more challenges, don’t sell yourself short by going the easy and comfortable route.  Nothing worth having is easy to come by.

When applying for jobs and internships, the time you spent tirelessly researching the company by reading their blogs, following their Google alerts and following their company Twitter feed, you will have a wealth of knowledge about their business practices.  Stay on the company’s radar by reaching out to recruiters and HR people along the way.  Demonstrate your active interest and engage them by asking questions about their recent media campaigns. Show them why you care so much about their company and why you would be a good fit there.  When it comes time to write the cover letter and update your resume, borrow language from their company web site.  Should you get a job with them, you will be expected to adhere to their writing style, so your cover letter and resume should be the first indicator to them that you will be able to handle that.

Searching for a job is a full time job in itself.  Always keep your eye out for opportunities on the horizon, and be prepared for any that may come your way unexpectedly.  Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.

Written by Caroline Jones

Former Firm Director and Social Media and Web Editor