There are hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of pieces of advice for students and soon-to-be graduates about what works best or what path to take. The thing is, however, no one’s path is the same and what works for one might not work for another.
Still, through a couple of jobs, internships, hiring interns, and talking to colleagues, I’ve noted some recurring themes of mistakes new pros make. Keep these in mind as you’re going through college and on your way to full-time work.
Check Your Resume
I’ve reviewed hundreds of resumes and caught dozens of typos. Double and triple check your info, and have someone else look at it too. You can make any work experience relevant to public relations. Even if you’ve only waited tables, there are applicable skills in a restaurant that tie into whatever position you’re applying for. Take a look at the job description and customize your resume to talk about what you’ve done. Your resume should never be more than one page.
Customize Your Cover Letter
Along with your resume, take the time to personalize your cover letter. It’s ok to have a basic framework, but the more personality you put into that page, the better your chances of getting an interview. Hiring managers can tell quickly if you’re using a generic template, and that doesn’t work in your favor.
Make sure you have appropriate work attire. While we were all home during the pandemic, a lot of people got really comfortable in their yoga pants and sweatshirts. At most organizations, loungewear will not be acceptable in-person. You don’t need a ton of outfits; get five professional outfits and rotate through them each week. I can promise you no one will care if you wear the same thing every Monday.
Network Your Way to the Top
Do you have a LinkedIn profile? Is it up to date? If not, there is nothing more important in my opinion. You should be checking your LinkedIn profile as often as you check Instagram or TikTok. Every person should get added to your LinkedIn network: your professors, fellow students, people you meet at conferences, everyone. When I exchange cards with someone at a conference, I add them on LinkedIn that evening, always. You never know where those people will end up and you can leverage connections in ways that will get you far.
If you’re reading this, you are most likely a member of PRSSA. When you graduate, make sure you transfer your membership to PRSA; it helped me more than anything else in my career. Not only is your PRSA membership deeply discounted as a former PRSSA member, there is a New Professionals Section designed specifically to help you get acquainted with PRSA. There are tons of great webinars and conferences, the PRSA Job Center, mentorship opportunities, and so much more.
Ultimately, say yes to opportunities as often as you can. Even if you don’t know how to do something, there are great resources online to help you learn. Saying yes to scary or unknown opportunities helped me get where I am, and I am still saying yes to everything I can. Your supervisors and colleagues will be grateful to have someone helpful on their team.
Landis Tindell, APR is the Manager of Corporate Communications for the Oklahoma City Thunder. He is an avid member of PRSA, having been inducted into the PRSSA Hall of Fame in 2021 and currently serving as the PRSA New Professionals Section Chair-elect and as the Southwest District Treasurer. Landis was named a PRNEWS 30 Under 30 Rising Star in 2019. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in strategic communications and is an adjunct professor, chef, musician, and trivia expert.