There’s nothing quite like the range of emotions you experience during your senior year of college. While it was exciting, it was also rather frightening. Although you may have been beyond ecstatic to hand in that one final paper and walk across the stage at graduation with your best friends, you also had to figure out how to begin a career and deal with the dreadful “Do you have a job yet?” inquiry asked incessantly by family and friends.
If you’re nervous about what you’ll do for “the rest of your life,” rest assured you are not alone, and you are likely more prepared to take on the real world than you think. In this week’s PRSA Friday Five, we present some comforting tips that will hopefully leave new professionals feeling a lot more secure as they enter the real world in public relations.
- The value of your internship
We all had that professor who painstakingly reinforced the importance of completing at least one internship prior to graduation.
Whether it was with one of the largest companies in the world or a boutique with no more than 20 employees, internship experience sets you a level above the rest of the applicant pool. Internships also allowed you to harness your current skills, gave you the opportunity to strengthen them, as well as learn new skills that will help you in your career. Most importantly, you got to meet professionals in your field that you wouldn’t have the chance to meet in a classroom. Someone you meet at your internship, whether it is your boss or another intern, could be a difference maker when you go to apply for a job or when you need valuable advice.
- You’re a digital native
We can all recall how thrilling it was to create our first MySpace account, and how that quickly became the ‘it’ thing. Little did we know that MySpace was at the start of the social media revolution, and that social would be a major part of our profession moving forward.
Social media has become an indispensable public relations tactic. Companies have found themselves relying more and more on social media to reach their targeted audiences to a point where they’re even sidestepping traditional media to share news and updates. Believe it or not, your personal understanding and knowledge of social media has turned out to be an extremely important tool. PR companies are constantly looking for applicants that possess social media skills and a deep understanding of what’s fresh and new, and you being able to craft content that resonates with target audiences through a post on Facebook or pin on Pinterest already has you one step ahead of the game.
- Don’t ever stop writing… ever
You would be surprised at how many aspiring public relations professionals are not strong writers, and how problematic that is. That said, being a solid writer is the most valuable skill you can have in the public relations industry. Even if you are confident with your writing skills, never stop writing. Writing a generic blog post on any given topic once a week or even doing some reading will help strengthen your writing skills, and will definitely pay off in your new position. And if you haven’t yet landed a job, showing that you’re keeping your skills fresh will be notable to many hiring managers.
Remember that person you worked with years ago that said to keep in touch, but you never did? Well, it might be too late now to go back and shoot them a quick e-mail letting them know that you are looking for a job. If someone suggests you keep in touch, do! They could turn out to be the one that lands you your first or next job.
Networking is essential, especially in public relations. If there are any networking events or panel discussions featuring public relations professionals, take advantage of those opportunities (Editor’s note: PRSSA, PRSA and your local chapter host many!). They want to meet and talk with people like you, and you never know what could come out of it. Make sure to also let your family and friends know that you are looking for a job if you’re in the market. They could know the right person that you need to be connected with.
- Be Confident
Last but not least, be confident. Between your college courses, internship experience and your daily use of social media, you have all the right tools to take on the real world. All professionals have been in the same position as you at some point in their careers, and they are ready to welcome you with open arms. And remember, never be afraid to make a mistake or ask questions.