My first bit of advice to all you young PR or advertising professionals out there who are on the brink of graduation and surely chomping at the bit to start your job search (sarcasm) would be to take a big, deep breath. Although the “real world” seems uncomfortably daunting, I promise it’s truly not as painful as some people make it sound.
With my six month work anniversary approaching, I’m now able to look back and feel semi-nostalgic about that crazy and often unpredictable time in my life when I was eagerly, and sometimes desperately, searching for a job.
Here are a few tips I learned along the way:
Don’t be afraid to fail.
Yes, my first tidbit of advice is cliché and something your mom probably tells you every day, but I’m here to remind you once more not to be afraid to fail. The process of attaining your first real job out of college can be pretty intimidating. I mean, let’s be honest here. And it’s possible your dream job is going to turn you down. But in my experience, that only makes you push harder to get to where you want to go.
You know that job you don’t think you’re qualified for? Apply anyway. No one ever succeeded without taking chances.
Find a mentor and network like your life depends on it.
Finding a seasoned professional that shares the same passion as you is beneficial on so many levels. Not only does it allow you to communicate with someone who has already been through the trenches and can support you through the process, but it can also help grow your network. I’m sure some of the individuals I’ve considered mentors don’t even realize how much influence they’ve had on me and how many connections they’ve helped me build. And if you’re smart, you’ll stay in touch with those people who have helped you. Many of my mentors are now my colleagues in the industry whom I continue to learn and grow from.
You are your own brand. We tell brands’ stories for a living and sometimes we forget that we also have to tell our own story. How are you supposed to properly give advice to clients on how to effectively promote their brand if you aren’t abiding by that advice yourself? Your personal brand starts with your actions and behaviors and dwindles all the way down to the way you dress, how you express yourself on social sites, in job interviews and to clients.
And as a young pro trying to win over an employer, your portfolio is a vital aspect of your brand. It’s never too soon to start building one either. Weebly, Wix and WordPress are user-friendly platforms you can use to begin that process.
Do your research.
There is literally nothing more embarrassing than an employer asking you a question about their agency and you not knowing the answer. DO YOUR RESEARCH. This will also come in handy when you’re searching for agencies and companies you would potentially like to work for. In my non-expert opinion, your first job is extremely important and you should actually like the clients and brands you work for, so doing your research beforehand will help you in the long run.
Side note: Whether you want to believe it or not, research is a large part of everything we do in PR and advertising, so you better get used to it anyways.
No one owes you anything and certainly no one is going to hand you a job undeservingly. We work in an industry that is becoming more competitive every day and it’s your job to prove to employers that you’re worth the risk. Why should they hire you? What can you bring to the table that your competitor can’t? (Legitimately have answers to those questions.)
Also, don’t forget: We work in PR—meaning a good, genuine conversation with an employer can go a very long way. If your resume states that you have killer interpersonal skills, then you better illustrate that in your interview.
Lastly, be confident. If you’re not confident in your abilities then how is an employer supposed to be? Believe in yourself first, the rest will follow.