As students in a service-learning class, we at Broad Magnolias have a unique opportunity. Not only are we gaining real-world experience, but we also get the chance to practice civic engagement and social responsibility with our client, Youth Oasis.
According to APA, civic engagement is the “individual and collective actions designed to identify and address issues of public concern.” This type of activity is a direct product of social responsibility, which is the idea that a business must “behave ethically and with sensitivity toward social, cultural, economic and environmental issues.”
As a non-profit organization that provides emergency care and housing for homeless youth in Louisiana, Youth Oasis is undoubtedly a socially responsible and civically engaged business. The staff works toward a central goal: to improve the lives of local youth who need help. By working for a client like this, we can learn how to be more socially and civically involved in our own professional careers. In other words, we are learning how to be better public relations professionals.
I personally believe that in order to be successful in your career, you must be happy. While happiness can come from many things, I am happiest when I feel proud what I am doing. This can only happen when I feel confident that my actions are not only effective, but also ethical. The key to ethics is being concerned for everyone involved—not just for yourself.
The PRSA code of ethics clearly demonstrates this. Through the core values and provisions of conduct, it explains that in order to be an ethical professional, one must be honest, loyal and fair to both the client and the public. Essentially, you must be concerned with society at large—not just you and your business.
While we at Broad Magnolias obviously care about getting a good grade in this class, that’s not the only thing that matters. We also care about Youth Oasis. We believe in their mission and are concerned for their success. We want to do our best, so that they can do theirs.
Practicing this mentality now is going to benefit us in the future. Even if we never work with a non-profit organization again—learning to value goals beyond personal gain is useful for any work environment.
If you want to learn more about service-learning and/or public relations, follow the Broad Magnolias journey. More importantly, we wouldn’t be here without Youth Oasis. So, make sure to follow their story too. You can find them on Facebook and Twitter.