Four Tips for the Transition from Student to Professional

Leaving college life and transitioning into the professional world can be a daunting process. I know this from experience because I am currently searching for job opportunities and getting ready to transition into the “real world.” That being said, I have a few ideas for getting ahead in the industry. The key to success is in these few simple steps:

1. Join PRSA as an Associate Member

If you are a PRSSA member and graduating this winter or next spring, fill out your PRSA Associate Membership application. You will be able to network, build long-lasting relationships, continue your professional development and have access to all PRSA member benefits, but will only pay $60 per year. You may become an Associate Member as early as five months before you graduate.

2. Join the New Pros Section

The PRSA New Professionals Section can help you transition into the professional world and help you connect with professionals in your area. It is a great way for new graduates to begin their professional networks and learn with the pros.

3. Conduct Informational Interviews

Informational interviews are a great place to start the job search. Ask questions about the company, get a feel for their work, and use it as a way to interview the company and determine if you are a good fit.

4. Be Prepared for Stress

Transitioning can be a stressful process that can take a toll on you. I am graduating within the next few weeks , and I find myself worrying about “what’s next.” It can be easy to get caught up in the job search, but take time for yourself to relieve stress and relax. You will thank yourself later.

How are you making the transition to the profession? What advice do you have for students beginning the transition?

This is a guest post from National President Adam Aisner.

9 thoughts on “Four Tips for the Transition from Student to Professional

    • Author gravatar

      Great tips, Adam. Let me add something that you should also consider – A professional transition mentor. I’m currently working with a graduating senior and just completed the transition for another that graduate from last year. So what am I talking about? I’m recommending that you find a public relations professional that can help you work through this process. Someone that will keep you calm, focused, and prepared that you aren’t asking for a job.

      Ask a working professional (a current New Pros Section member can be especially helpful) to be your mentor – to answer your questions about What should I wear? Does my resume look OK? This is what they said in the interview and what I answered? All those discussions that will keep you up at night because this is a new experience for you.

      Another great thing that I do for my mentees? I talk to their parents about the process. I talk about expectations, performance, marketplace, and STRESS that they add to this process. For some reason, the parents have bigger hopes and expectations that the graduate in many instances about what it’s like to find a job today.

      Best of luck to you and all the great young professionals that are about to join our great profession.

      Gary McCormick, APR, Fellow PRSA
      Co-Chair, Champions for PRSSA
      2010 Chair/CEO of PRSA

    • Author gravatar

      That’s a really great point, Gary. I would love to help out any students in need of a mentor during this time–I was in their shoes a year ago.

      My email is nicklucido AT gmail DOT com. Hope to hear from some of these members.

    • Author gravatar

      Thanks for sharing these tips with us Gary! I think that’s an excellent idea and one that everyone should definitely take note of. This process is truly stressful in most cases, so its great to have a professional by your side who can mentor you through the process.

      Thanks again for sharing!

    • Author gravatar

      In kindness, and in the spirit of helping, please let me say the most important thing you can do is learn to write professionally. The errors and vagueness in this post are troubling, especially since the author isn’t out of school, making big mistakes, and overlooking them as he/she offers advice. Employers will have your head for this, rightly or wrongly. And, seriously, “Transition” is NOT A VERB. If you are interested in the PR business, formal writing skills are paramount — lower writing skills does not mean lower pay — it means no job at all. I ask all communications and PR majors to take written English way more seriuosly — it’s an ugly, competitive world out there… Best, R.

    • Author gravatar

      Thank you for your feedback. In case there was any confusion, this post was written to provide PRSSA members transitioning to PRSA with a few tips to springboard from.

      PRSSA agrees quality writing is crucial to the success of our members, and we strive to practice high-quality writing in all of our publications. While mistakes are made now and then, we appreciate your feedback. Thanks for your advice.

    • Author gravatar

      I don’t want to be a nag, but your response has 2 major errors:
      “Transition,” as I said, in my first post, is not a verb.
      “Springboard,” is also a noun, not a verb. It’s also slang, not formal English.
      This is high school level corrections.
      This is supposed to be a group of Communication professionals.
      Seriously, come on…

    • Author gravatar

      Thanks for this blog post–we have a good number of our chapter graduating this year (including me), so these tips definitely help! Even now, four months away from graduation, I can feel the anticipation and foresee the stress of finding a good job and transitioning from being a full-time student to a full-time professional. The bit about informational interviews was nice to see on the list, as we have a class at CSU East Bay that covers interviewing and requires us to go out and get informational interviews; from my experience it’s a great tactic and makes approaching professionals much easier.

      As I said earlier, I’m graduating this June with a Bachelor’s in Communication, with an emphasis in PR and a minor in Environmental Studies–if anything I would love to work for a non-profit that deals with protecting the environment. I was wondering if, on hindsight, there were other tips you would add to the list? Ones that are either more generally for PR or job searching in general or more specific to looking for work in non-profits?

      I also had a quick question–what’s the difference between being an Associate Member and being a part of the New Pros Section? Could you do both?

    • Author gravatar

      This is great advice–our chapter has been looking to grow our communication with the local PRSA chapter and professionals in our area. We’re also holding more events that focus on just meeting and networking with professionals, to have time to ask basic questions that give great insight into the field. Would you happen to have any advice for our chapter to help connect our members with the professional world?

    • Author gravatar

      Hi Ann! Some excellent questions and I’m glad to see you engaging with our Blog. Keep up the fantastic work!

      Let me dive, for a second, into your initial question of additional tips. I would say that for the job search, there are a great deal of tricks and tips that can be used in order to help your job search. The above tips are very general, and really encourage our members to join PRSA and the New Pros Section (explanation of how to get involved is forthcoming).

      One tip is to be open minded about relocating to another city. You’ll have more options and it will open more doors for you. That being said, I have found that most places want to see you with a local address, before they move forward with hiring. This is not always the case, but was what I experienced during my initial outreach. Bottom line, be open minded about relocating.

      Another tip is to network wherever you can. Use your professional network to assist you with finding more connections. This industry is all about the professional connections that you have. But remember this, don’t just make connections to find a job. Make connections but be sure to keep in touch with them and effectively manage your professional relationships. A lot of good will come of this.

      Another tip is to do everything that we teach you in PRSSA. Interviews, follow ups, thank you notes, etc.

      I would think about who YOU are, and what you can bring to the table at a company. We talked this weekend at the BU Regional Conference about being 100% yourself at work. While you are interviewing, remember that you are interviewing them as well. You want to make sure that where you work is a good fit. You want to be happy there. Do your research, and interview the place to see if you’d like it.

      Those are some tips. I have plenty more to share as well. Feel free to send me an email at and we can keep the chat going.

      As far as PRSA Associate Membership and New Pros is concerned, they are different. Associate Membership will give you PRSA national membership, while the New Pros is a professional section of PRSA. That being said, you should join as an Associate member and then pay $20 to be a part of the New Professionals section. Again, if you have questions, please feel free to shoot me an email. Thanks, and I hope this answers some of your questions.

      Adam Joseph,

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