What Now? Our Best Advice to PR Grads!
First – congratulations! You’ve graduated. Time to bask in all of your accomplishments. The discipline and commitment needed to get through a PR program has definitely prepared you for the next chapter. Second – and, don’t let this shock you – the hard work has only just begun. Take it from me!
After graduating 2 years ago I found the whole experience to be both exciting and nerve-racking. After all it’s time to fully adult – right? Leaving behind the security and stability of the school environment to the unknowns of the future can be downright scary. But it’s the unknowns you should embrace. Take risks and enjoy the process. Looking back I’m so glad I did.
Here’s some of my top tips for new PR grads entering into the PR job force:
- Determine what you want.
What type of PR job do you want? Hopefully you’ve given this some initial thought already. Do you want to work with an agency – large or boutique-style? Or, non-profit or go corporate? Keep in mind that PR is not a typical 9-5 job, and you have to be willing to put in your time. Also, know yourself! Figure out what you want and where you might thrive. Think of this first job/internship as an opportunity to learn, grow and build impactful relationships. And, most importantly build your CV. Remember this is likely the first stop of many, but ensure each move you make is strategic.
- Do your research.
Do your research into the agency/company. And then do some more! Know their clients, style of work, company culture and social media tendencies. All will help as you navigate through this experience and ensure it’s a right fit for you. As much as potential employers are interviewing you as a candidate, you should be doing the same. We spend majority of our days doing this job – might as well make it one you love and have passion for.
- Think outside the box.
The process is not the same for everyone. Don’t look at what your friends or classmates are doing. This is not a competition. Maybe you had a specific path in mind that didn’t pan out exactly the way you’d hoped. That’s okay – keep moving forward, as opportunities exist in every corner and it’s your job to find them. For example, I was expecting a full internship, followed by a permanent position. Instead, the reality was a 10-week internship, several freelance opportunities, followed by my amazing current position. Be different and when the time is right, you will be recognized for your authentic approach.
- Network. Network.
I know this word gets thrown around a lot – and it’s for good reason. The way you choose to approach this however, is up to you. Keep in touch with your professors and classmates. Your professors can a great tool as they savvy, industry professionals. They’ve seen it all and are more than willing to help foster your growth if you show initiative and effort. I reached out to my professors for everything. Advice and mentorship, volunteer experience for various events, resume editing/tips, etc. In fact, through this process, one of my professors recommended me for a working event, which in turn led to a full-time position. Again, opportunities exist everywhere. Maintaining these relationships is like building a mini community – one that you will be a part of for years to come.
- Embrace opportunity (and the unexpected!)
You may not have gotten that dream internship you wanted. But hey – life doesn’t work that way. It’s not the end of the world. Opportunities come in all shapes and sizes, and it’s up to you to recognize and seize them. It was unsettling at times not to have that ‘consistent’ routine off the bat – but in reality the experiences I gained through the process were invaluable. There’s no shame or fear in taking a different route. Hustling is the name of the game. So stay hungry and always keep a keen eye on the prize.
- Be prepared.
Do the work, make the effort, and put in the time. This applies from your very first internship, to landing your dream job. This part can’t be faked or done half-way and is instrumental in your successes along the way. I can’t stress enough how important it is to show what you’re made of. It’s not enough to do what’s expected. Going the extra mile doesn’t mean being a slave to your job, but rather anticipating needs, being creative, thinking outside the box. You want a seat at the table – ask questions, speak up, do more than you’re asked. The reward will be plentiful, in more ways than one.
Last but not least – reputation is everything. Throughout your journey, one of the best tips I can give you is to remember to always put your best foot forward. Remember it’s not always the loudest person that gets noticed as actions speaks louder than words. You have a voice – use it. Often. In our team, we have a saying – ‘there’s no such thing as a bad idea’. In PR you work to build each other up and make your client King. Be kind and always treat everyone as you’d like to be treated – as you never know where people you meet throughout your journey will land.
Finally – have fun and enjoy the ride!