The university student can become all too accustomed to traversing the sea of scholarly study without blinking an eye at the lineup of extracurricular endeavours that are waiting to be taken on. Indeed, after a long day of school and work, that living room couch can look quite appealing. We might ask, can dedicating hours of our spare time really produce benefit in the quest for career-related experience? Or perhaps we steer clear of such endeavours due to intimidation at the thought of dozens of A-type personalities congregating at once! Fortunately for the questioning student, Grey Vancouver employee and IABC member Stephanie Vicic has a few insights to share on the value of giving up your coveted free time in the pursuit of the extracurricular. Below is the conversation Stephanie and I had:
Does volunteering for an organization or club enhance your professional experience?
Yes, I believe it does enhance one’s professional experience. Through volunteer opportunities, you can build on the skills you have to get more experience in the area you are interested in. For example, there are volunteer committees who give people a chance to write and distribute news releases, plan events, recruit volunteers, design materials, and write articles.
What kind of time commitment does this demand?
A membership demands whatever time commitment you would like to put into it. You pay an annual fee to be a member [of IABC], so I feel you should definitely make it worthwhile by attending PD and social events, volunteering on IABC committees and so on. These opportunities get you out there, meeting people and learning.
How have you become involved in your organization?
From the outset I wanted to get involved and really get the most of my membership. So, I joined one of the volunteer committees and helped with social events. Recently, I have also joined a second committee to help with media relations activities; and expanded my role on the professional development committee. Over the past year, I have made it a goal of mine to become more involved and meet people.
Why would you encourage university students to pursue involvement in a professional association such as IABC prior to graduation?
I would say the primary reason for joining a professional association such as IABC prior to graduating is that it offers a fantastic opportunity to meet people already working in the industry. This is beneficial as it not only allows a student to gain insight into what job opportunities and various communications roles/industries there are, but also helps to understand the skills needed to get started. Often coming out of university you might be thinking now what, by being part of an association it can give you some direction, contacts in the field of work you want to get into and a solid understanding of how people become successful in communications.
Now let’s talk IABC. How does an IABC membership enrich one’s professional / volunteering experience?
A membership with IABC gives you the opportunity to network with fellow communications professionals that you would otherwise not have the chance to meet in your everyday work environment. People of all career levels are involved in the association, from entry level to ABC accredited, so in meeting these people, your knowledge of the opportunities in this industry grow. Additionally, as a member, you have the opportunity to attend IABC professional development seminars, and social events, which only continues to build on your skills and network.
Stephanie Vicic is an Account Executive for Grey Vancouver, a full-service Communications agency that hires several co-op students each semester. In addition to providing Public Relations support to a variety of clients, the SFU graduate coordinates the activities of the Warner Bros Intern, the PR Intern, and the summer Ambassador teams. Prior to graduation, Stephanie excelled in two co-op placements with Grey in fall of 2003 and spring of 2004, eventually leading to her permanent employment with the agency. Stephanie joined IABC in December of 2006 at the recommendation of her colleagues and friends, and notes the Bronze Quill Awards and ongoing networking events as the highlights of the IABC calendar year.