nearly January, and in just a few short months, commencement speakers
across the nation will be addressing thousands of students who are
entering the "real world."
For the public relations
profession, this means that a new crop of bright, young practitioners who
are eager to prove themselves are about to enter the marketplace.
These prospective graduates will leave the safe haven of college life and
enter the exciting, and sometimes frightening, working world.
Many students believe that college will have armed them with all the
necessary tools for success. However, smart graduates will realize
that the practical learning they receive once they begin their new job
will match their education within a matter of weeks. Ambitious new
professionals will quickly learn that by mastering a handful of intangible
factors, they will make their mark faster than the rest. Those who
want to get ahead in the PR profession will be wise to heed the following
Exude confidence, but not arrogance. Some people starting their
first PR job are hesitant to voice their opinions and ideas when
appropriate, causing colleagues to question their enthusiasm or value. On
the other hand, some new employees are so secure in their abilities that
they appear arrogant, which can impair their relationships with their
colleagues and employers. The trick is to find the right balance and
walk the line between providing thoughtful input and appearing to be a
Identify a mentor. Every professional, regardless of level, has a
person they turn to for unbiased guidance. A mentor can help you
navigate an often frenetic first year by providing sage advice and by
offering to be a sounding board for your questions. Choosing a
counselor and establishing a mentoring relationship early is one way to
get ahead of the game.
Realize that mistakes will be made, but do not make the same ones
twice. Every professional makes mistakes. The key is to
learn from these blunders and commit to not repeating those errors again.
Handling first-time mistakes with grace and professionalism shows maturity
and will gain respect from colleagues and peers alike.
Burn the midnight oil. There is no longer such a thing as a
nine-to-five job. Getting ahead doesn't just mean arriving early or
staying late, but doing so enthusiastically and willingly. Smart
professionals will proactively offer themselves for extra projects where
they can demonstrate their worth.
Commit to being a student of the industry. Staying on top
industry trends is key to getting ahead. Read the latest journals
and PR trades, attend seminars and join professional groups in order to
stay one step ahead and impress an account director.
Recognize there is much to learn. Those fresh out of college
have gained a great deal of academic knowledge, but are only on the cusp
of the practical education gained from joining the industry. The
humility that comes with realizing one is "green," and the
willingness to make the effort to gain as much experience as possible is
the surest way of making a mark.
McKeever is a public relations practitioner at the Chandler Chicco Agency
(CCA), the nation's largest independent healthcare public relations
agency. Since starting her career at CCA five years ago, Cori has
worked at the
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agency's New York City and London offices on various U.S.
international accounts. Currently, she is based in the agency's
Washington, D.C. office and resides in Alexandria, Virginia.
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