Five Tips for PR Grads
[By Jason Mollica]
We have reached the time of year when caps go flying into the air and young adults look back fondly on their college years. Commencement, or graduation, weekend is always a special moment to remember the good (and not so good) times, the hard work, and long hours you put in to make certain you could succeed.
Now that you have the piece of paper that says you have a degree, what is the next step? Whether you have a job after graduation or not, you need to start thinking about where your career is going to take you. Having spent time with, and spoken to, public relations students around the United States during the 2014-2015 academic year, one of the most important topics is post-undergraduate life.
It’s been a few years (OK, 18) since I graduated from Temple University in Philadelphia, Pa. with my communications degree. However, if I’ve learned anything since that time, it’s that PR grads need to be prepared for anything and everything. While this blog could include over 20 tips for public relations and/or marketing students, I’ve narrowed it down to five. These are tips that you can continue to apply to your career now and five years from now.
- Have a mentor/someone you can trust. You can’t go through life without asking for advice. In college, you most likely had a professor or adviser that you could bounce an idea off of. Now that you are out of school, whether you have a job or not, it’s integral to have a mentor. This is a person who will be honest with you about your career choices, PR ideas, and making connections. Mentors shouldn’t be your ticket to a job; they should be your Obi-Wan Kenobi.
- Be ethical. This should be a given. There will be a time in your career when your ethics will be tested. Don’t take the path of bending the truth, lying, or misleading. It WILL bite you down the road. Potter Stewart, the famed Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, once said that ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do. If you consistently stick to your principles, you’ll never have to question yourself.
- Ask questions. Whether you are in a large group or in a one-on-one situation, never turn down the opportunity to get answers. The only way you will improve is to be persistent and make sure you are learning as much as possible. Just because you aren’t a student in college, doesn’t mean you can’t be a student of PR. Don’t just settle for what you think may be a good answer. Ask questions to get answers you need, especially in our industry.
- Conduct a personal audit/SWOT analysis. This is something that I’ve recommended to students and new professionals for some time now. A personal audit can be valuable in getting yourself to take a critical look at your career. I do them every quarter to see if I’ve slipped, gotten better, or plateaued. The SWOT analysis is something I love to do. It forces you to pick out your weaknesses. But, it also shows where you may be missing the boat on something. We do audits and SWOTs for clients; you should do the same for yourself.
- Go with confidence. Let’s be perfectly honest. There will be a good percentage of you that graduate but don’t have a job in PR, marketing, or social media the day after. You’ll be disappointed and question your ability to work as a pro. Don’t do that. If it takes you six months to get a job, don’t lose the confidence in your skills and, most of all, YOU. Keep networking in person and on social networks. Your confidence isn’t the only thing that will keep you strong, but it’s a big part of making certain you don’t doubt getting to the end results, which is that job.
There’s a certain amount of realism that comes with walking across that stage and being handed a diploma. College is over. Now, the real work begins. To paraphrase Robert F. Kennedy, some people go through life and ask why? I chose to see things that never were and ask why not? Ask why not… because, ultimately, that is how you will succeed in life and career.