This post is part of a series of “Lives of New Professionals” guest posts for Progressions.
Many things change when you transition from a student to a professional. You now earn a salary, but that new job comes with a whole host of new responsibilities, not to mention the physiological changes that come with changing from a frenetic college schedule to working set hours five days a week. Say hello to bedtime at 9 p.m. — seriously.
You also likely joined the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). If you haven’t yet, you can get a discounted PRSA associate membership as a former PRSSA member. By joining you’re likely looking for the same involvement in PRSA as a new professional that you had as a student in PRSSA. But take it from this new professional, only one year out, that there are a few things you should be weary of as you dive into the “real world.”
Be prepared for the bottom of the totem pole
We know this happens at every stage of life. As soon as you get to the top, you’re going to get knocked down. While you may have been on your PRSSA Chapter executive board, your position in PRSA (or for that matter, your job) will certainly be lower. I was Chapter president in my last year of PRSSA. I currently serve as the mentorship co-chair on the PRSA New Professionals Executive Committee. This is certainly not the top, but it has been a great place to start.
Your schedule is totally different
As mentioned above, new professionals now work set hours five days a week. And for me, pouring everything into my job is always my first priority. Then, and only then, when I have finished everything with respect to work — at least for the time being — am I able to divert energy into PRSA projects. As you evaluate your own priorities, this may mean sacrificing other things in life for the sake of time (e.g. Netflix, happy hour, etc.).
Set your initial goals low
This may seem a bit depressing, but it goes hand in hand with your different schedule. You may want to volunteer for everything, but just be careful that you don’t bite off more than you can chew. It will make a bad impression on others when you start missing deliverables to which you committed.
Transitioning from a student to a new professional and from PRSSA to PRSA is — and should be — exciting. Just make sure to not overwhelm yourself.
What are you most worried and/or excited about during your transition?
Mike DeFilippis is an assistant project manager at Direct Impact, a wholly owned subsidiary of Burson-Marsteller and a member of the WPP family that specializes in grassroots mobilization and outreach. He is also the mentorship co-chair on the PRSA New Professionals Executive Committee. You can find him with a cup of coffee (or espresso) in hand while listening to country music. Follow him on Twitter @mgflip.