Nick Goebel on Leading PRSSA and Launching a PR Career

September 2019
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Name: Nick Goebel

Current title: PRSSA National President

Current Location: Gainesville, Fla.

Career highlights: PRSSA National President (2019–2020), PRSSA National Vice President of Chapter Development (2018–2019)

Favorite downtime activity: Reading a book with a face mask and a glass of champagne in my hand

Favorite apps: Tumblr: The odd humor can’t be found anywhere else, and it kills so much time. Facebook: I am addicted to Gordon Ramsay videos. Instagram: Because it’s so interactive!

Favorite book: “A Memory of Light” by Brandon Sanderson and Robert Jordan

Best career advice: We all fail at one point. It’s what you do with that failure that counts. 


What was your dream job as a child?

Growing up in South Florida, I can distinctly remember going to SeaWorld for the first time in Orlando. The animals were enchanting and I fell in love with the showmanship of the trainers. I was whisked out of the crowd by an attendant, and brought down to center stage by the sea lions. At 9 years old, I professed to my parents that, when I grew up, I was going to work with every SeaWorld animal in the park.

That lasted about six months, and then I decided I was going to be an author after reading “A Series of Unfortunate Events” by Lemony Snicket. 


At the University of Florida, you’re graduating with a bachelor’s in public relations with a specialization in forestry. What sparked your interest in forestry?

In high school, I was granted admission to an environmental magnet program, which was led by a storyteller. Every lesson in basic ecology, Florida wildlife and native woodpeckers was in the frame of a story. My professor allowed each of his students to fall in love with the world around them.

When arriving to college, I decided that, because I loved my teachers lessons, I would continue my schooling in environmental classes. After a year of the GenEd courses, I entered my forestry education. I was passionate about making our world a better place and preserving our natural resources. I was stung by a scorpion on my first day.  


You joined PRSSA as a sophomore. What originally inspired you to be part of PRSSA?

After that first sting, there were major ant attacks, tick infestations and much more. I started to feel disenchanted and realized that I wasn’t passionate about my professor’s environmental research, but his storytelling. I kept looking into how I could continue to be involved in changing the world, and that’s when a friend invited me to a PRSSA meeting.

I sat in the middle of the room while my friend greeted those around her. Then the UF-PRSSA president silenced the room and introduced the speaker. Mickey Nall, APR, Fellow PRSA, a guest lecturer at the time, spoke about his career, including being chair of PRSA, and the way he inspired storytelling. He made a difference in the world with the stories he told.

I joined PRSSA two weeks later and switched my major to public relations four weeks later.


Why did you decide to pursue leadership positions?

After joining PRSSA, I dove into the community headfirst. I went to every meeting. I signed up for every class available and even went on a career tour. On an introduction of the various types of careers a PR student can take, I met a professional working to help low-income communities receive a better education. I handed them my card and it turned into my first internship.

After PRSSA gave me a passionate community, a committed major and my first internship, I wanted to give back to the Society that helped me thrive.


What are you looking forward to in the school year ahead? Do you have post-graduation plans?

I am graduating from the University of Florida in December and we have an amazing PR department with professors who support us. Academically, I am looking forward to reconnecting with mentors and professors.

Regarding PRSSA, our National Committee is professional and talented. I know that the membership has an great year ahead with them leading.

Personally, last semesters of college are always both the best and worst moments of a student’s education. I am excited to graduate and walk across the stage, but I am sad to have one last game day in the swamp and leave the community that has changed my life.

In the coming months, I am hunting down jobs in Washington, D.C. and New York City. I have a serious passion for events and brand experiences helping high-level brands connect to local communities. I hope to continue that work after I graduate!


How are your fellow students/PRSSA members generally feeling about the job hunt and life after graduation? What are some of the unique challenges they're facing today?

Our students in PRSSA are smart and dedicated. In my time, students involved in their Chapters find jobs really quickly because of the network our society gave them. The majority of students who ask me for advice are focused on the overcrowded job market and making themselves stand out. How do they maintain a personality and still appear professional?

A new trend of being your most authentic and genuine self is encouraged and promoted. Lizzo is one of the top new artists and is leading this charge with her music which pushes against our society's perfection standards. Students also must balance being authentic with portraying an outwardly professional life. It’s a challenge we are trying to prepare our students for with PRSSA National.

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