2019 PBL National Leadership Conference Reflection

Our 2019-2020 Olivet PRSSA Vice President, Derek Schaffner, attended and competed at the Phi Beta Lambda (PBL) National Leadership Conference in San Antonio, Texas held June 24-27. Read his reflection from this incredible experience here.

Good afternoon PRSSA members and friends!

Last week, eight other Olivet students and I had the fantastic opportunity to attend and compete in the Phi Beta Lambda (PBL) National Leadership Conference (NLC). PBL is a business organization who, “inspires and prepares students to become community-minded business leaders in a global society through relevant career preparation and leadership experiences.”


During the Spring 2019 semester, we competed in Illinois’ state competition and qualified for this national event. This year’s NLC was hosted at the Grand Hyatt Conference Center with more than 1600 students and faculty advisers! While I could write an entire novel on the various speakers, forums and activities that were held, I will spare your eyes and point out the most valuable experiences from the trip and how making connections will make or break your job search.

Number one on the list of most valuable experiences from this trip: our time with speaker and entrepreneur Jeff Butler. Butler is a third-generational Silicon Valley entrepreneur and has founded three companies by the age of 27. As a computer science major at U.C. Berkeley, whose program was ranked second in the country, he experienced the ongoing parade of companies and recruiters trying to woo him and his classmates. Butler has quickly built his reputation as a memorable presenter with tangible solutions for attracting, retaining and engaging millennials as employees and customers. Within the past three years, he has spoken at two TEDx events and multiple Fortune 500 companies such as Google, Amazon and LinkedIn. Obviously, his resume speaks for itself, but Butler gave several HUGE quips on how to land the big jobs we all want.

One of the first things he explained was the hidden job market that people rarely talk about. When we go on job sites such as Indeed, LinkedIn or Glassdoor, we only see the jobs that were posted (DUH). However, the truth is that nearly 65 percent of job openings are not filled via job board posting. They are filled by REFERRAL! Using this fact as his foundation, Butler explained how we could enter this side of the job market by using LinkedIn. While many have their qualms about LinkedIn, I found myself open to using this site for the specific purpose of gaining referrals from the companies I am interested in.

Butler continued by telling us of a situation in which he needed to find a job within a month of signing a lease on a new apartment in L.A. He dedicated his free time during unemployment to a strict schedule of messaging employees of Amazon, Google, Uber and Spotify. He was messaging nearly ten employers a day, starting a conversation, asking for tips on jobs in their industry, dropping his resume to them and then moving on from there. Just through making this simple connection, he found that 30 percent of the time within a couple of days, the employee would message him back about a new job opportunity within their company. To finish the story, within the month he had been hired by Google to be a database engineer.

A week in San Antonio at the 2019 PBL National Leader Conference was truly one I will never forget. I encourage all of you reading this to first make a LinkedIn if you do not already have one, then join PRSSA, then join PBL at Olivet. Connections are EVERYTHING in the job search realm, and you must start now! I am very excited for the 2019-2020 school year and anticipate hearing about the many experiences you all have had this summer! See you soon!



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