Each year as graduation time rolls around I am always recharged by the excitement and anticipation displayed by future PR pros embarking on their journeys. An amazing career awaits each one of you!
It is also a time I reflect back on my own career and the experiences that have brought me to where I am today.
If there is one piece of advice I can give to PRSSA members and their fellow PR students, it would be patience. In a society wrought with ever-faster connections and expanding platforms, we expect things to happen in life just as fast. Problem is, life isn’t fast. In order to build relationships and gain experience, it takes time…and a lot of patience.
While I can appreciate aspiring to a “dream” job and all the drive, ambition and desire that goes with that, students may sell themselves short in that quest, especially from the start by passing up opportunities because they didn’t fit the dream job ideal. The reality is that over time your dream job will present itself to you all because of the journey you have made to get to that point. I can attest to that, as I’m living that dream job I never knew I wanted or much less pondered. You see, I was destined to be a media maven upon graduation. I was going to take the “pitch” to new levels and “placements” would be my middle name. And then along came community relations. Who would have thought?
Those early experiences at the American Heart Association exposed me to developing partnerships, leveraging strategic alliances and bringing collaborative efforts together. You tie that all up into a strategic planning process and you have a dream job about as far from a media maven as one can get.
So, I encourage you to have patience. Give yourself time to find your sweet spot. And when you do it will be really sweet! That doesn’t mean to diminish your enthusiasm or passion. It just means to take each experience as an opportunity – the positive ones and the bad. We can learn a lot from the less than perfect boss, the unorganized campaign, or a fluctuating office culture, the amazing mentor, the champion leader. Take it all in and enjoy the moment. It’s okay to have fun, laugh a little along the way. A quote I’ve always liked is, “When we laugh, we learn.” No truer statement.
As you enter your first job here are three things to consider:
- Listen – be an avid listener, you’ll gain respect, learn more and be able to contribute at a higher level
- Challenge – rise to the occasion and challenge yourself to try new things, respectfully question process and offer solutions
- Lead – no matter what level you’re at you can lead – lead a project, drive a brainstorming session, create a new approach
You’ll have a career that will test your skills and create some lasting memories. In my 30+ years, I never thought I would…
- Tell Eddie Murphy’s filming crew they’ll just have to “deal” when your event team arrives for set up in the vicinity of the movie’s aerial shot because 40 port-a-potties are arriving in 10 minutes.
- Get to sit in the press box/photo dugout with Sport Illustrated, ESPN and 100 other media reps for opening day – the FIRST opening day – of the new baseball franchise (Go Rockies!) because your client drove construction of the new stadium.
- Truck across a golf course in high heels (they need aerating right?) to get John Elway to donate a signed football to your fundraiser (when he was still QB!).
- Tour Marian Ross/Mrs. C to a special radio spot taping to find out she wasn’t acting in Happy Days (you must Google that to get what I mean!) and then have high tea at the Brown Palace Hotel.
- Get to mentor dozens of PRSSA kids and have 20+ interns pass thru my door onto greater things. Does it get better than that!? I don’t think so!
Those are just a few of things I’ve been able to experience in this amazing profession. There isn’t a day I regret or an experience I don’t treasure. I’m blessed to work in this field and I hope that as you begin your journey, 30 years from now you feel the same. Remember, it’s the choices you make, not chance that determines your destiny.
Jane Dvorak, APR, Fellow PRSA, started JKD & Company in 1989 and has driven strategic communications programs in industries ranging from healthcare to agriculture with energy, creativity and impact. Jane is an accredited member of PRSA, was inducted into the College of Fellows in 2010 and currently serves as the PRSA National board treasurer. She is a 2011 Silver Anvil winner and recently was awarded the 2015 Small Practice Award and two Grand Gold Picks from the PRSA Colorado Chapter. She’s been an independent for 26 years and considers her 13-stair journey to JKD headquarters a perfect commute. You can connect with Jane via twitter @Jkdjane, LinkedIn or on JKD & Company’s Facebook page.