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Things no one tells you when you start a student-run firm


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Things no one tells you when you start a student-run firm

Lauren Blackwell

By Lauren Blackwell

RENO, Nev. – The University of Nevada, Reno Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA Nevada)’s student-run firm Wolf Pack Relations, just turned one on Jan. 20.  To celebrate I thought I’d share what I’ve learned that’s not in the handbook about the process of starting and running a firm.

You will contemplate getting a second minor in business just to teach you all of the basics you didn’t know you had to know.

When I joined Wolf Pack Relations as a founder and account executive, I had no idea that I would eventually end up dealing with invoices and organizational infrastructure.  The thought of learning how to run a business crossed my mind almost every day when I first moved into my position as director.  But, ultimately the best way to learn is by doing so I decided against pushing back my graduation date for the firm.

Your firm will consume you in mind, body, and soul.

“I can’t tonight, I have to create a (insert proposal, business plan, creative brief, strategic plan, invoice, etc.)” became a frequent part of my vocabulary.  I would spend nights and weekends writing plans and creating staff position hierarchies for handbooks and procedural documents at the expense of my sleep and sometimes sanity.  Starting a firm becomes a never-ending full-time job that rules your life because you are so driven to succeed.

You will drink exponentially more coffee than usual.

As PR people, we already drink more coffee than we should.  But prepare for your coffee intake to increase way more than your normal daily intake, especially if you’re like me and spending hours upon hours working on documents into the early hours of the morning.  

You’ll start sounding like a motivational speaker.

The current PRSSA Nevada President JamalEdeen Barghouti and first Wolf Pack Relations director, the other three founding staff members, and I adopted the phrase “Start before you‘re ready” to help motivate us through the giant process of starting our firm.  Now, we use that phrase to kick off every new semester to motivate the new staff.

You will become more excited and terrified for the professional world.

Running a business will give you a plethora of mixed emotions to sort through about your impending graduation.  On one hand, you will gain confidence in yourself and your skills as a professional that will leave you itching for access to the professional world sooner than later.  On the other hand, you will be terrified for your entrance into the professional world because your knowledge of working in a firm is forever coupled with the idea that you will be taking classes and working part time as well.

It’s all worth it in the end!

Starting a student-run firm for your chapter is the best decision you could ever make.  You will never forget the feeling of signing your first client, finishing your first project, and of knowing that it was the hard work of you and your staff that created a lasting and successful legacy within your chapter and your college.  You’ll never regret taking the chance to build your firm and the skill set and confidence you’ll gain in the end.


Lauren Blackwell is a strategic communications student at the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, the director of Wolf Pack Relations, and a PRSSA Nevada executive board member. You can email her at, connect with her on LinkedIn, and follow her on Twitter @laurenbwell.