Weber State University students interested in public relations work will soon have an official outlet for honing their skills. Yeonsoo Kim, a public relations professor at WSU, is now accepting applications for WSU’s chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America.

“Journalism students have The Signpost so they can get some professional, hands-on knowledge in journalism, but in this department, even though PR has a lot more students, we didn’t have any organization or agency for students to have that kind of experience,” Kim said. “So I tried to reorganize PRSSA, and it’s going to become a student-run agency like The Signpost. . . . I heard there was a PRSSA before, but it was like students just have a meeting once per month and just having a guest lecture to learn a little bit more outside of the classroom, but that was it. So I tried to make it a big deal.”

Kim will be the academic adviser for the organization, and she said she also hopes to recruit three public relations professionals to help advise and train students in real-world issues within the field. Two of the professional advisers will be Allison Hess, WSU’s public relations director, and John Kowalewski, media relations director. The third is yet to be decided on.

Students of any major are welcome to join, but Kim said the actual student-run agency, once properly developed, will require a significant time commitment and passion for the field. However, she said the jobs the agency will offer will be diverse and require students of various skill sets.

“We need so many different types of people who are specialized in just general communications — it’s not only about PR students.”

For now, PRSSA membership will include conferences, workshops, internship opportunities and optional course credit for COMM 3890. Next Friday, the newly formed chapter will attend the regional conference at Brigham Young University, where students will have the chance to network with public relations professionals from around the country and students from other chapters, Kim said.

“It’s a large opportunity for networking and really understanding what the industry’s all about from an angle that can’t be had in a classroom,” said Steve Martin, president of BYU’s chapter of PRSSA. “It opens up doors, it provides people with the resources that they need in order to land their first job, because you just don’t learn about PR in general; you learn about your place in PR.”

Ryker Morgan, a public relations junior and the account director of the recruit campaign for WSU’s chapter, said the hands-on experience PRSSA offers is important for public relations students if they plan on getting related jobs out of college.

“The main point of the national chapter is kind of to bridge the gap between students and professionals,” Morgan said. “It just helps students to get professional experience in the PR field in many different aspects, so that it can basically ready them to enter into a professional world. It helps them get connections with professionals that work in PR, instead of, you know, just learning about what PR is in school and then having to worry about trying to find a job after they graduate without any type of connection to the professional world.”

Kim is taking applications for WSU’s chapter of PRSSA though Saturday. Students can find the applications and membership guides on the bulletin board next to the communications department office, Room 330 of Elizabeth Hall. A $50 deposit is required on application to cover conference and activity costs.

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