“Thoughts From the Desert: A Student Reflection on the Counselors Academy Conference"
By Fábio Couto

When Professor Thomas Martin first came to talk to me about the PRSA Counselors Academy Spring Conference I was thrilled. I was an international student who had arrived in the United States from Brazil not more than a few months earlier. I was still overcoming cultural barriers and continuously working on my English. I had been doing my best to improve my academic performance, but I never thought I would get to network with some of the best public relations practitioners in the United States; hear their insights; and learn more about the business.

Beautiful Lake Las Vegas was the setting for this priceless professional experience. My biggest task was to repost the discussions on Twitter. Initially, I thought about whether I’d be able to do that well. Could I catch the speakers’ ideas and summarize them in 140 characters? How would I transform their remarks into comprehensive tweets for everyone who was following the #CAPRSA hashtag? From the first session, I realized that could not have been easier. The thoughts shared in the breakout sessions were insightful, clear and more than ready to be shared. On the top of that, listening to the discussions opened my mind to different aspects of public relations, that I hadn’t yet contemplated as a student.

At the keynote sessions, I was introduced to the ideas of thought leaders who discussed different ways of doing business. I would need years of experience in the field to take in all the learning I got from the sessions, which were not only about running an agency, but about professionalism and growth. I found that it’s never too early to learn lessons on leadership and professional excellence.

As if the sessions and discussions were not enough, the conference gave me the opportunity to meet and network with professionals whose careers are absolutely inspiring. Neither a college course nor any textbook could provide an experience that was even close to this. For all the thoughts, tips and recommendations that were shared, personal business stories that were told, and for everyone being so open, I thank all the Counselors who were at this spring conference. What I learned from you and about you made it very clear to me why you are all so successful.