Working in the communications field is something I had never thought about before college. In fact, I thought it meant just being an anchor on TV. When I realized that I could translate some of the qualities I learned as an athlete, big sister, and as a creative thinker to a career, I knew that I had found the right path.
Once I decided that I wanted to work in communications, I knew that I wanted to provide myself with a wide variety of skills. With this in mind, when it came time to choose my college major, I decided on the integrated marketing communication (IMC) track encompassing public relations, marketing and advertising. This major kept things broad so I knew I could work almost anywhere in the field. Here are three tips that helped me secure my first public relations job:
Say yes to new experiences and actively seek them out
Before deciding on a major, I knew I wanted to experience as many things as I could while in college. So I joined the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) and went to several of their events and agency tours. Through these experiences, I knew that I wanted to work in an agency. Aside from taking advantage of conferences and visits, I held several positions at PRSSA, including recruitment and retention, social chair and president.
In addition to clubs and organizations, I held several other jobs and internships in university administration, college athletics, and at a local agency that helped give me an idea of the working world.
Learn as many skills as you can
Although I learned a lot in class and in my clubs, I knew that internships would deepen my work experience. I had two internships, one at Westminster College in athletics and one at Ten Four Social in social media and public relations, and in both, I was not only able to finetune my existing skills but learn more as well. When I was at Westminster College during the spring of my junior year, all sports were played in one season. During this time I had very little experience writing on a deadline. At one point, I was between games and I had to finish a game recap before the next game started. This was stressful but ultimately helped to prepare me for the real world. I was worried if I would do it right or not and I didn’t want to embarrass myself. I was a competent writer but it wasn’t until I was put on the clock did I know I could handle it. When I applied to Rally Point, I had a timed writing test and I know that my experience at Westminster prepared me for that moment.
Outside of internships, I also worked as Social Media Communications Assistant for the University as well as the Communications Assistant for the field hockey team. In these roles specifically, I learned the value of research forming a plan. In class we had always formed a plan out of research but obviously we never could execute on it, but . in my jobs we did. I did a lot of research into what other schools and sports teams were posting and that’s how I figured out my plan for the field hockey page. I narrowed down who I was trying to target and I made sure to mold my plan around what they wanted to see. I took what I learned in class and applied it to the real world. All of these roles helped me learn about myself and the field, preparing me for my future career.
Push yourself outside of your comfort zone
When I decided on my major, I didn’t know anyone else. I knew no one at my first PRSSA meeting. Putting myself outside of my comfort zone allowed me to not only grow as a professional but as an individual as well. Being involved with the club meant working on projects with people whom I didn’t know and with whom I had to work closely to get the job done. In my internships I wasn’t the most confident writer. I would get nervous about writing something that would have to be submitted to my supervisor. To get past this anxiety, my best advice to you would be to just do it. Go and talk to someone you never spoke to before. Know you’ve done your best and hand that paper in.Just doing it, will make you feel better.
Fast forward four years, and I’m now an Assistant Account Executive at Rally Point Public Relations. Through the steps I mentioned above, I was able to collaborate with coworkers and clients, travel to New York City by myself for the first time and go to Bitcoin 2022 in Miami for a client. Although I am not even one year into my career, I have already grown and learned a lot as a young professional. I embrace new challenges every day and I am constantly pushing myself outside of my comfort zone. As “they” say, you don’t grow where you’re comfortable.
If you’re considering a career in public relations check out our current openings on our careers page.