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PR Advice for College Graduates

 
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Ready to Launch: 5 Tips for New Grads 

Contributions by Kalee Full, Communication Specialist, Wellstone Inc.

Congratulations, graduate! You’ve officially transitioned from college student to “young professional.” And suddenly people… trust you with things? Whether that fills you with fear, excitement, or a mixture of both, we’ve gathered five tips to help in the first five years.

 

TIP 01 – Your job is what you make it. 

Your job is what you make it, so take your responsibility for your learning. 

Wherever you go, and whatever you do, it’s up to you to gain the experience that you want and need in your first (or second, or third) role. If you’re role or manager isn’t providing you the skills and experience you thought it or they would, it might be time to make a way. 

Ask questions. Join (hyperlink this to our membership page) a professional development organization. Spend weekly time on a free, online learning resource developing a skill or certification. (More on this below)

In the first five years, you may not always love your role, but you can always choose to be a learner. Make a way, and your future resume will thank you.

 

TIP 02 – Let go of the title.

You might understand what a public relations practitioner does, but a lot of companies, executives, and managers might not. This is why job titles for public relations professionals can vary so greatly, and why – in your job search – you shouldn’t put much weight on them.

Here are a few examples of open positions on Indeed right now: 

Marketing Specialist, Public Relations Assistant, Communications Associate, Public Affairs Specialist, Promotions Director, Digital Media Specialist, Brand Manager, Media Relations Specialist, Content Manager, Public Information Officer, Copywriter, Account Executive, Social Media Manager, and Content Strategist, to name a few.

Sometimes a job title doesn’t reflect the actual roles and responsibilities that the company or organization is looking for. In short – they just weren’t sure what to call it. 

So we recommend breezing past job titles to read through descriptions. What will you actually be doing on a daily basis? Figure out which hats they want you to wear.

Which brings us to our next point.

 

TIP 03 – Start collecting hats. 

If you’ve heard the expression that someone “wears a lot of hats,” that’s often what a public relations professional is asked to do. Besides learning to balance them, our first advice is to start collecting them.

Some examples of hats include skills (e.g. graphic design, writing press releases, photography, writing blogs, web editing, branding, social media strategy, email newsletter creation) and programs (e.g. Canva, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, Hootsuite, MailChimp, HubSpot, WordPress, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram).

Some great hat-collecting resources include HubSpot Academy, LinkedIn Learning, Adobe video tutorials (free with a Creative Cloud subscription), MuckRack Academy, and Canva Design School.

Become an avid hat collector, and you’ll always be valuable in the workplace. Note that it’s important to eventually pick your favorite hat or two and consider specializing, but that’s a conversation for another day.

While you’re just starting out, collect the hats.

TIP 04 – Be a good human.

What kind of person are you? 

In the workplace, and in life, the “soft skills” (aka your character, integrity, and relational skills) are everything. It matters how well you get along with others, whether you give others credit, ask for help, communicate clearly, and apologize when you’re wrong, among a plethora of other things.

People hire people, and no matter how many hats you have, the best hire is someone who is the right “fit.”

Soft skills win every time. So be a good human.

 

TIP 05 – Build bridges.

To build on our last point, relationships are everything. Always, but especially in these first five years, it’s connections, connections, connections. 

Build bridges everywhere you go. You never know when you’ll need to cross one. Build them on LinkedIn, build them at the car mechanic, build them at young professionals networking events, build them at the grocery store, build them in team meetings. Wherever you go, keep a bridge-building mindset.

As far as it depends upon you, don’t burn them. The people around you are your greatest resource, your greatest strength.

And the age-old adage that it’s not “what you know,” it’s “who you know,” does ring true in your career.

 

Transitions are both exciting and tough, and we are rooting for you! Shameless plug – one way to find support in the midst of transition is through connecting to a professional organization like NAPRCA. Join a group of like-minded professionals – and friends – to fall back on in these first few years. We’ve all been where you are, and we are here for you!

To learn more about membership today, click here, email our VP of Membership Kalee Full at kalee.full@wellstone.com, or connect with her on LinkedIn (that’s her favorite)!

 

About This Post

Posted on June 5, 2024
Posted by Emily Rodrick