Thousands of public relations graduates hit the workforce after graduation every spring with internships, writing experience, 4.0 GPAs and volunteer experience neatly organized on their resume as it is sent it out to dozens of potential employers. Once you’ve landed that first job, how can you ensure your own success? Professionals in the field offer their advice to guide future public relations pros to the keys to success in their first entry-level positions.
Tina McCorkindale, Ph.D., APR, president and CEO of the Institute for Public Relations, says it is important that new employees work as hard as they possibly can by working late and going above and beyond what is expected.
“Think big picture and mentally work through the implications of your actions. Learn from others around you and listen as much as you can,” she said. “Get to know people and remember names. Send kudos when people do things well and don’t take individual credit for team efforts. Build people up along the way.”
McCorkindale also recommends that all new professionals join a professional organization because the field of public relations is a small world and growing relationships can be the keys to success.
Jay Magee, APR, client services manager for Community Hospice of Northeast Florida, said that even though you are out of school, the studying doesn’t stop when you enter the field — or at least it shouldn’t stop. He said new employees should continue to study the organization they work for. Read positive and negative feedback, investor profiles, media reports and other features. This will keep you aware of who you are working for.
Magee said it is also important to study your industry. Read trade publications such as PR Week and PR Daily. Simply following these sources on Twitter can help new professionals stay up-to-date on the industry.
He also highly recommends to write and write exceptionally well. Writing can be difficult, so write about things that are important to you to keep the passion flowing and to make you want to write instead of treating it as a chore.
Veronica Mingrone graduated from the University of Florida in 2016 and now works as an analyst at Canvas Blue in New York City. She served as the PRSSA 2015–2016 Vice President of Career Services while she was in college. Mingrone is a strong believer in the power of mentorship. She says to keep in touch with those who helped you in college, but look for new mentors in your colleagues and bosses when you enter the field.
She also recommends keeping your options open. Your first job may not be where you want to stay forever but if you learn practical skills and meet people early in your career, you can make the changes you want to see. Don’t be discouraged from taking a job because it doesn’t fit perfectly in your life plan, you will figure it out.
The most common piece of advice from all public relations professionals is to join a professional organization such as PRSA. It allows professionals to network, learn and grow through each other’s’ diverse backgrounds and variety of experiences. It’s one thing to join PRSA but it is another to stay involved. Go to meetings and join committees so you can grow as a young professional.
Jordan McCrary is a sophomore public relations major from South Florida. She serves as the 2016–2017 vice president of member services for the University of Florida PRSSA Chapter. Jordan can often be found drinking iced coffee, talking about her dogs or volunteering at a local Gainesville elementary school.