The leap from college to career is seriously daunting. It can be difficult to gauge how helpful the skills you learned in college will be once you kick start your post-grad work life, and even more nerve wracking to acknowledge that there will be certain things that you don’t know yet. Knowing this, how can you prepare yourself for this life-changing transition?
In my case, I credit what I learned during college to my student run PR firm. Without access to such a hands-on program, I wouldn’t have found my passion for PR. As for everything else, get ready to learn on the job!
What were 3 things I didn’t know before entering the workforce?
- Time management & work life balance.
- The importance of understanding clients’ pain points.
- Tactical skills; including how to build a media list (and what a media list was…) and how to draft a pitch that will land.
Time management and work-life balance? Foreign language to a college student.
Client pain points? You mean I have to understand, evaluate, and help them figure out how to solve problems to achieve end results?
“Yes, I can pull together a media list!” *returns 5 minutes later* “What is a media list…?”
College might do a good job of teaching you the incredible influence of media and what PR means, but in my experience, communications and PR programs fail to offer hands-on skills that young professionals will need in their day-to-day roles. Once I landed that dream job, a whole new side of PR—one that I didn’t even know existed—opened up.
What 3 skills did I gain in college before entering the workforce?
- Understanding what my strengths were & how to apply those to a career.
- Taking feedback seriously.
- Confidence in that there is always a way.
PR is not a straightforward, by the books, “right way/wrong way” kind of field. There are so many different ways to achieve your goals, and creativity is cherished in the industry. Understanding where your individual strengths lie and knowing how to not only apply those strengths but having the confidence to build upon them, will be a huge asset.
Most importantly – feedback, feedback, feedback. You will be working on teams throughout your career, there’s no way around it! But the most amazing work can come as a result of strong, trusting teamwork. Without peers or advisors reviewing my work, resume, personal website, etc. during college, I would never have known how to highlight my wins or talk about my skills with confidence. Taking feedback seriously (and actually applying to future work) will get you further than anything.
Some of the best advice I received as a new professional was “PR is a rollercoaster.” You’ll experience really exciting highs, and at times may hit a few low points. Regardless of what your experience is like, it’s important to acknowledge, accept and appreciate the inevitable learning curve that comes with transitioning from college to career.
Finding the best agency fit for your groove is crucial. When applying to potential opportunities, cast your net far and wide. You might have an idea that lifestyle and entertainment PR is the perfect thing for you but could just as well wind up happy and thriving in the tech space! Always keep work-life balance in mind; no matter where you land or what job you have, your happiness should be a priority. Working for a company that wholeheartedly supports that mentality is lifechanging. And remember, don’t let your non-existent knowledge of media list build out stop you – you will learn on the job!
Have questions about the transition from college-level PR experiences to real world careers in PR? Ask away: firstname.lastname@example.org. Brooklynn graduated in 2018 with a BA in Communications and Media Studies. She joined Hotwire as an Account Coordinator and has been with the company for 2 years.