Students and pros find common ground at third UT PRSSA Longhorn Networking event

On Tuesday, Oct. 23, over 40 public relations students and professionals gathered for the third bi-annual Longhorn Networking event at Whole Foods Market World Headquarters, ready to meet and mingle over hors d’oevres and good company.

Started in the fall of 2011 as the UT PRSSA signature event, Longhorn Networking provides a space for students and professionals to meet in a comfortable setting that feels more personal than a job fair or recruiting session.

“Longhorn Networking is a great first step towards more intimidating settings, like a career fair or job interviews,” said Aly Kasberg, a junior public relations major and second-year UT PRSSA member. “It’s a unique chance to have more time to speak with professionals and ask questions that you wouldn’t get to elsewhere. They had some great advice having been in my position not long ago.”

UT PRSSA Events Director Regina Flanigan, the events committee and the executive board had been working since the summer to make the event a success. As networking and relationship-building among the student chapter and PRSA Austin are a big membership draw, everyone involved in planning and execution was ready to create an event that would make getting to know peers and pros easy.

Tabitha Fierro, Rafiq el Arculli, Allison Barnes, Sylvester Palacios, Alysse Fisher and Kristen Wiley chat over festive beverages and snacks. Photo credit: Rachael Sperling.

“It can be difficult to find the time to make new professional relationships on top of all your other responsibilities, especially for busy students and hardworking practitioners,” said Flanigan. “I think our event provided the venue to make networking among some of the best and brightest feel like a no-brainer.”

Laura Raun, founder and president of Laura Raun Public Relations, a local PR firm with a focus on the water industry, agrees.

“The Longhorn Networking events are a great way to meet bright and motivated PR students in a relaxed environment and attractive settings,” Raun said. “As a PR professional, I like the chance to visit with students about their internships, classes and career plans to see if they might be a good fit for LRPR.”

Although networking may seem intimidating at times, UT PRSSA members and officers strived to make sure the event was one everyone would enjoy. Providing students a bridge to professionalism – and providing professionals access to one of the best intern candidate pools around – was the goal of the event.

“I was definitely nervous! I had never been to a networking event, so interacting with professionals was a foreign concept to me,” Kasberg said. “However, within five minutes of being there I felt completely comfortable. It is a balance of showing your personality and being professional. The networking event forced me to think on my feet and practice these skills.”

All attendees enjoyed themselves and stayed to the very end where a few even won door prizes. New friendships and professional contacts were built, and brie and artisan pizza were eaten. Many thanks to everyone who made time to be at the event, including UT PRSSA members and professionals from WCG Partners, Cohn & Wolfe, Noble Strategic Partners, Laura Raun PR, Mason ZImbler and National Instruments and more. We look forward to seeing you at the next Longhorn Networking in 2013!

*A special thanks to Whole Foods Market for their support and generosity of our student organization.