At the ripe ol’ age of 25, I had no idea that I would be where I am today, although I should have known better. My Gallup’s StrengthsFinder test results showed my top natural strength was Achiever. Yes, it means exactly what it sounds like it means.
It’s no surprise then that in my third year in the industry, I decided that I wanted to look into earning my Accreditation in Public Relations. And once I looked into it, there was no turning back.
February 2015 was the first time I heard about the APR at a PRSA Central California Chapter luncheon. One year later, I passed the Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations and officially became an APR.
To be honest, this entire experience sums up my career to this point. Right out of college, I was hired as a part-time writer for a local advertising agency. Within a few weeks, I was full-time. Within a year, I was running the social media department. Six months later, I was at the helm of the entire public relations department — me and a newly-hired intern.
I’m not one for dipping my toes into the water. I wholeheartedly jump off the deep end. Whatever I need to do, I will. I’m just happy to be there, learning and growing every step of the way.
Signing up for the Examination was me jumping right on in. Then reality struck: I have to sit before a panel and prove myself and my work.
What am I doing? Five years of experience is recommended for a reason. Sure, I’ve done a lot in my short career — but there is no way that’s good enough, right?
Finally, I shut up my inner demons and focused. I went through every module in the online classroom, prepped my answers for the questionnaire and made four different people listen to my Readiness Review presentation. What was I so scared of? I’m proud of my work and I’ve prepared for this.
I was Advanced from Readiness Review process. My sigh of relief only came for a few days, then that ghastly feeling of self-doubt washed upon me again.
Before I took the computer-based Examination, I spoke to many wonderfully talented APRs who were Accredited before me. To my surprise, they were just as terrified as I was during the process.
These are the three most important things I can tell you about the process:
- You’re human. You are going to have that mind-numbing feeling of self-doubt — at times, even the most talented professionals in the world do. You’re allowed to be scared, but then put that behind you and walk into the Readiness Review presentation and the computer-based Examination knowing that you can do it.
- Study, study, then study some more. Do one thing every night to work toward the Examination, even if it’s just 10 minutes of reading.
- It’s going to make you a better public relations professional. Sure, having your APR is prestigious and feels rewarding. How you analyze things and enhance your work afterward is the real game changer. Going through the course is incredibly valuable to your career. Even if you don’t feel ready to go through the process, consider taking the APR Online Study Course for your own professional enhancement.
Thanks for reading my story! I’d love to hear about your APR experience, nerves and all.
Anna Gonzalez, APR works at JP Marketing, a full-service advertising agency headquartered in Fresno, California, where she manages a team of three. She manages the reputations of clients in a multitude of industries including technology, retail, education, automotive and telecommunications. Connect with Anna on LinkedIn.
Those were really interesting and helpful tips you gave. It give me a lot to think about for my future, and which direction I want to go in with my future in PR. Do most people plan to do this process so early in their career?
The Universal Accreditation Board recommends 5 years of experience. Having said that, the more strategic experience a person has, the more likely they will have success.