It hapPens in the Room

      40 Comments on It hapPens in the Room

NOTE TO MY READERS: We’re having some issues with the new design of PR Nation so it looks a bit different today. Thanks for your patience as we work on this.

Leslie Odom, Jr. as Aaron Burr

Leslie Odom, Jr. as Aaron Burr

I often tell my students how I got my first public relations job. It was almost purely accidental. I was working as a news director and morning news anchor at WBLI-FM when I went to meet my dear, late college buddy Conrad Schiano for lunch. Conrad was working at Cablevision, which, in 1983, was fast becoming one of the largest corporations on Long Island. As I walked through the company’s central corridor, I literally bumped into another college friend, Irene McPhail, who I hadn’t seen in about three years. Irene had quickly moved up the ladder to become Cablevision’s director of public affairs, and we spent a few quick minutes getting caught up. Just three weeks later she called to invite me to interview for a job, and two weeks after that I became a PR practitioner, working for my friend Irene.

I tell this story to emphasize a point: You never can tell who the person may be who can lead you to your first job. It could be the student sitting next to you in class, a favorite professor, or the professional you meet at a workshop or networking event.

This is why I encourage students to come this Thursday, November 3 from 7-9 p.m., and meet more than a dozen public relations alumni and other PR pros at Hofstra PRSSA’s Annual Networking Dinner. These working practitioners have established themselves in major Manhattan and Long Island-based firms and organizations, and will be visiting Hofstra to mentor and advise students on how to find internships and begin their careers in public relations.

In the massive Broadway hit “Hamilton” the Aaron Burr character laments that he hasn’t been a part of the action where big decisions are being made and sings, “I wanna be in the room where it happens.” Comedian/Actor/Director Woody Allen said, “Eighty percent of life is showing up.” Isn’t this true with all of our significant experiences? The key to making things happen is to grab every golden opportunity, “show up” where “it happens,” and get close to people who can change your life. Your thoughts?

40 thoughts on “It hapPens in the Room

  1. A. Murphy

    Not only is “The Room Where It Happens” one of my favorite songs from the Hamilton soundtrack, but it is totally accurate to almost every thing in life.

    In the song, Hamilton attends a behind-closed-doors meeting and Burr is left out, something that only adds metaphorical fuel to his bitter fire. In PR, not being at the table results in not being able to participate in the decision making and it also means that your complete understanding of the situation is lessened. Decisions made behind closed doors end up having lasting impacts but the personal ramifications of both being in the room and outside the door will impact a person’s continued influence on the situation and the relationships with all those involved. All things to consider when working in PR and in life.

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  2. Vanessa

    I thoroughly enjoy the events PRSSA puts together. The networking dinner was a great opportunity to gain knowledge and meet with professionals in the industry. It is also rewarding when you leave these events with a contact and a potential of working with theses people.

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  3. ari okonofua

    I’m so sad I missed this year’s dinner – I attended last year and got to speak with students on my perspective working in PR. It was great and I hope that those that attended this year, made connections, will follow-up and will work with their contacts made to learn more about their experience in PR. Making connections is key.

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  4. Anonymous

    I definitely agree in being where it all happens. The old say, “It’s not what you know its who you know.” I often kick myself when I miss event due to work or not being able to get there. We have to take that extra step to make sure we are noticed and make it in the public relations field. I definitely have to start making time for networking before I graduate.

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  5. SShak

    I agree. Sometimes the most exciting things come from the unexpected. In regards to the networking dinner, although people have preconceived notions about what they think it is about, it may be beneficial to participate and find out for yourself.

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  6. Aisha Buchanan

    I agree with your post 100%. Networking is powerful and it is a must in the communications industry. The beauty of networking is that you never know where your next opportunity is going to come from. It can come from a student , a janitor, or even a simple stranger on a subway. The point is , you never know who knows who. That is why it is important to always show up in a room where it happens. The beauty of that “room” can be any place . That’s why it is also important to show out .

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  7. Brianna Beaumont

    Participation is very important. You have to attend events and network or you will never live to your full potential. Going out and trying new things is good for a complete well-rounded life, and you never know where it may take you. What you think you will be at or be doing in the future will most likely be different, so it is good to keep an open mind.

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  8. Emily DiLaura

    One thing I’ve learned so far in my professional life is to always be who you are and always be your best. This kind of goes to a similar point you bring up: you never know who is going to present your next opportunity or where it is going to come from. It is so important to always bring your best self forward because your next big chance could be waiting behind that door, in that office, or with that friendship. Networking can come from anywhere and from the most unexpected places. You must be ready for anything. Great post!

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  9. Maria Zaldivar

    “The Room Where it Happens” is my motto since I heard Hamilton for the first time and shed a few tears. I completely believe that being in “the room” where decisions are made is the ultimate goal, but on the way there we should open every door possible in order to find the one. I believe that you never know what will happen so my mom always told me to be the “nicest and most hard working in the room” because there might always be someone better but how you act and your work ethic is the one thing you can control.

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  10. Jorge Marrero

    It is very true what they say to keep a good relationship with everyone you come in contact with. Personally, I hate having conflicts with anyone because you never know when or if you will need that person in the long run. I always try to be friendly and respectful with every person I meet. It has helped me before with minor things and could possibly help me in the future with a job or anything that can benefit my future. I always believed in treat others the way you want to be treated.

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  11. Stephanie Adomavicius

    While I am a firm believer in that everything happens for a reason, I also believe in making your own opportunities. Networking is key, especially in the communications field. My supervisor at my work study job at Quinnipiac University introduced me to someone at the Tyra Banks Show and because of that opportunity, I landed an internship at the television show.

    In regards to my first job, I also interned at a public relations agency in midtown and tried to absorb and network as Much as I could. As a result, the agency called me when I graduated informing me that new position was available. The rest is history. You never know when an opportunity will fall into your lap or who you will meet on any given day. Bottom line: always be professional and dress for success!

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  12. Bernie Dennler

    You never know who is going to help you or when you’re going to meet someone with the power or connections to change your life. I think this is one of the most important reasons to maintain a sense of professionalism in almost all daily life. That’s not to say you can never relax and be yourself, but you should always put your best food forward in life. Impress the people around you in your personal life and they just might present you with an opportunity that changes your professional life. Especially in this part of life, I think it’s important to keep this in mind. Who knows which of your college friends or acquaintances might someday reappear with the ability to complete change your trajectory?

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  13. Michael James

    I had a professor last semester at my former school who gave a fifty minute speech on the first day of class. As you can imagine most students were perturbed by such monologue, however the message proved to be pivotal for the majority of the class. The focal point of his speech was to “just show up.” He challenged everyone to “just show up” in life. Not limiting it to just throwing on sweats and “showing up,” but to show up and not miss out on the opportunities that are around every corner of life’s path. Much like the story in the post, he ended up being in a few movies by just showing up to a couple events he did not want to attend. That classroom for the rest of the year had an unexplainable vibe. It was one of an elementary school where everyone knows each other and doesn’t quite understand the concept of stress yet. Needless to say we all showed up, everyday, and since then the importance of that speech and what showing up to the party can do, has become a reality.

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  14. Arianna du Manoir

    Being a television major and having interned for many different companies within the television industry, networking is crucial. Whether it is at an event or at a job, you never know who you could meet and it is so important to take advantage of getting to know someone and exchanging contact information as that one person could be a great resource to developing your career and achieving your goals.

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  15. Jessica Mohen

    Showing up is the most important part of achieving goals. If you aim high, you will land somewhere in the middle. As a member of the Hofstra American Marketing Association’s general board last semester, I had my sights set to attend the Collegiate Marketing Conference in New Orleans. I attended almost every meeting and joined the planning committee. I was selected to attend the conference with the club as only a limited number of students were able to attend due to cost reasons. After attending the meetings, conference, and showing interest, the executive board members offered me a position in the club. I did not intend to be a part of the eboard, but just by showing up and showing interest, I achieved an unforeseen goal.

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  16. Josh Solomon

    I couldn’t agree more. Life is about showing up and willing yourself to do something. It’s essential that you show everyone around you that you’re serious and you’re here to work and showing up to work everyday is the first part of that process.

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  17. Adam Palasciano

    Networking is an invaluable skill that is a must do especially in the Public Relations field. Sometimes landing a job or internship is easier or more probable when you know someone who is already in the field. It’s important to always keep your options open because you never know when your next big opportunity might pop up.

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  18. Marielle McCartin

    Networking and showing up to events to make yourself known is very important throughout a persons entire life. I am excited to go to the networking dinner and meet those in the field that I want to work in. I know making connections is very important and I believe this is a great start for me.

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  19. Daniella Opabajo

    Throughout my undergraduate career, I was interested in journalism. I loved writing so much that I knew journalism was the path for me. I believe that I got my first PR internship on accident, but my parents like to say it was fate. My professor told me about this non-profit PR company that is looking for some interns during the semester. I applied for the position, without thinking I would get the job. I never had any PR experience prior, so I applied for the job because I just wanted something to keep me busy during the semester. My supervisor accepted my application and I got the job. I was shocked but a little excited to see what the PR world was all about. That internship is what got me interested in PR as a career. If I didn’t step out of my comfort zone from journalism and apply for a PR internship, I wouldn’t have to know how much I enjoyed PR. I truly believe that what is meant to be will be, but just like Woody Allen stated, “Eighty percent of life is showing up.” Eighty percent of life is showing up.” I could have easily turned down that PR internship because it was not in the journalism field. However, I decided to take a chance on an opportunely that changed my career path.

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  20. Stacyann Nathan

    I can honestly say this true. It is about who you know and the connections you make with the right people. First impressions are critical and getting your name out there to people is important. The classmate you’re sitting next to could be your future employer or partner. Make every relationship count and be as confident as possible.

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  21. Rian-Ashlei

    I learned just how much happens in a room just this weekend and how important it is to always look your best even during a costume party where you might look up and there’s a famous actress standing in front of you in line for the bathroom. I think showing up is definitely half the bottle but I also think you have to have something to say when you get there. Just knowing a person isn’t enough. You have to repeatedly demonstrate that you are reliable and consistent even more so than creative. So yes, it definitely happens in a room but once you’re let in, you have to prove why you’re worth staying.

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  22. Jordyn Miller

    Preparedness is not only important in communications, it is something everyone must consider every single day as they prepare for the day ahead. Looking presentable is always important, as you never know who you are going to meet, and first impressions are very important within short interactions. Along with this thought, we must also remember the importance of taking opportunities that are presented to us. While some things do end up falling into our laps, more often than not, we must try and make things happen for ourselves and put ourself in “the room where it happens.”

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  23. Adam Engel

    In PR networking is very important. Making close relationships between you and other clients is what PR is all about. You never know when theres an opportunity to move forward in your career and you won’t know unless you do good networking.

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  24. Nikita Hakels

    I agree! Life is unpredictable. Networking and making connections is the best way to go about. I believe that the networking dinner is a great help. I attended it last year and it was a great experience. So i definitely recommend this. Everyone should for sure attend it.

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  25. Jennifer OMalley

    Networking is essential to success. A great opportunity isn’t going to seek your out, you have to be the one to find it. We must put ourselves in the position to experience opportunities. I definitely agree that half the battle is just being there. No, not every networking event you attend is going to end up landing you a dream job. But, it certainly will never happen if you’re sitting around at home instead. My good friend who is a musician has never found the success he had hoped to. (Not yet, atleast.) But, he still plays every little hole in the wall bar gig he can because you never know who might be in the crowd that night.

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  26. Cam Keough

    I do believe that almost everything comes down to who you know. Every job I have gotten so far has been because of someone I know or someone who knows someone and puts a good word in for me. This summer for example, I worked a tech director for a non-profit, community, theatre who put on plays, movies, concerts, and educational classes. I got the job because my mother knew the president of the theatre through the school where she works. She set up a meeting and I turned out to be the perfect fit, and eventually greatly improved the organization. I’m now a television and business major, and I am greatly worried because I don’t know anyone in the industry, but that is why I am at Hofstra, to make connections!

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  27. Anthony Pugliese

    This particular blog post has summed up what I have learned thus far about getting a job. In order to get a job you must sell yourself, in order to do so networking is a must. It is extremely important for a college student like myself to get out into the the real world and experience everything. I have recently joined PRSSA and have enjoyed it since the first meeting I attended. However, I originally was a Television and Film (B.S.) major and now I am switching into the world of PR as I am now planning to be Public Relations major. All in all, if I did not test the waters and get myself out to try new things I would’ve never found PR.

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  28. Daniela Gagliano

    With a communications major, and especially in the public relations field… networking is everything. It’s important to look professional as much as you can, because you do never know who you might bump into or connect with. It might be on your way home from work or just simply getting your nails done, people are everywhere. One conversation with a stranger could possibly lead to a job or an article or anything, the possibilities are endless. It’s also important to put yourself out there sometimes, if you see someone who writes for the Times in Starbucks- say hello! You never know where it may lead you with the right person…

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  29. Anna Baxter

    It sounds like a cliché to say that everything in life happens for a reason, but I think that it is true. No one knows what the future holds or how knowing different people can change our lives. I think that during our time in college, it is important to establish friendships with peers, professors, and alumni as well as attend other events to lay a foundation for potential networking. It is also important to be friendly and engaging towards people, because that makes a good impression. You never know how you can affect someone and whatever you do now could come around and help you in the future.

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  30. Justin Chupungco

    In PR, networking and making connections is essential. Any friend, classmate, professor or anyone can become valuable, and open the door to a job or a new opportunity. One of the hardest things to overcome for a shy people to overcome is to get out there and build connections. In any case, these connections can help you in the PR field in getting to know reporters, journalists, other PR practitioners, and even getting PR jobs. Networking is a valuable tool all PR people need to implement and use to their advantage.

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  31. Justin McCue

    Networking, in any field, is extremely important. This post reminded me of the saying, “Life works in mysterious ways.” You never know what moments or who you meet that will change your life or career. All it can take is one handshake or smile to create a relationship that can change things for the better.

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  32. Tai Davis

    One never knows what the future may hold. So many jobs have similar tasks and also the experiences one has through extra curricular activities such as clubs may cause a new opportunity to branch out. It seems to be the more adventurous types get more of the opportunities. Like your blog says, you should “grab every golden opportunity, show up.” It makes sense. It is harder to stand out and increase your chances of getting that great job if you are not in the room. While you may not be in the room, your competition will surely be there, wanting the job just as much or more than you. Even though you may be more qualified than the person, it could be as simple as they had a great conversation and found something in common. One should try to be present in all places because you never know who is watching and could give you that next great job.

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  33. Michael Esposito

    I think that it’s so important to trust your instinct and realize that everything happens for a reason. So many unexpected things happen all the time and it could lead you to a job.

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  34. Khaleik Akerson

    Networking is the key to all doors. Being antisocial could only make the process more difficult. Especially in the field of communications,where it revolves around communicating with one another to reach self proclaimed end goals. Connecting with people can only be more beneficial than harmful. When the opportunity is placed, you have to run with it or someone else will .

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  35. Katie Spoleti

    Before coming to college, I never really knew the true value of networking and all of the opportunities it could bring for any one individual. Now, as a senior about to graduate from Hofstra with many classes and internships under my belt, I could not be more thankful for the connections I have made with professors, students and professionals working in the field. Even though it is important to work hard and achieve goals on our own, it’s always a great thing if we have someone there who can help us along the way. The quote by Woody Allen really hit home with me because it is the truest statement out there. I always try my best to seize every opportunity that I can when it comes to engaging with people and learning something new. You really never know what will come out of a conversation if you just jump right in and introduce yourself to someone. Whether it’s on the street, in the classroom or at a networking event, I really believe that you should always put yourself out there no matter what because you never know where that person could take you or vice versa.

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  36. Arthena Sherwood

    I am glad I learned this very early in my PR career. Networking is so essential, whether it is to land the job you want or build relationships with reporters, it will only help you in the long run.

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  37. Diana Ziskin

    I fell into PR just because I was in the right place at the right time. I met someone (a fellow Hofstra undergrad) at a bar one night while I was still working in film. He offered me a job as a publicist at his firm, I told him I had no idea what PR even was, he told me I’d learn as I went. If I stayed home that night like I originally planned on, my life would be entirely different. Since that night, I go everywhere, join everything and have been able to experience the most amazing opportunities. When I mentor my group of college students the biggest piece of advice I give them is always go to everything and always network!

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  38. Amina

    Networking is so important in any field but especially in PR. It is important to constantly network and keep relationships with others who are in similar fields to you.

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    1. Victoria Conway

      So many times in life, the unexpected happens. However, that can’t come to fruition if we choose to miss out on opportunities. By going out into the world we open ourselves up to millions of possibilities. There are never guarantees in life, but standing by and letting moments pass by is no way to live.

      Reply

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