Young Professional PR AdviceI’ve seen a couple of different articles recently containing advice for young professionals joining the workforce, or pieces of advice people wish they could tell their former selves. Some of them were great articles with great tips and common sense advice but some of them were questionable and included things that did not seem necessary to me. It got me thinking about what advice I would give someone else (or myself a few years ago) and these are the five main things:

1 Do your research. No matter what it is that you are going into, a new job, a client meeting, an after-work event, know everything you can about it. A simple Google search beforehand provides so much information that may come in handy once you get there. It’s better to be over prepared. You should be able to talk like you know what’s going on and be able to offer ideas and ask informed questions in the first few minutes of the new situation.

2 Work hard. You may not have anyone pushing you or you may feel like you’re doing good enough. Alternatively, you may feel that you are doing everything you can and there is still no way to succeed. Find the way. Figure things out, even if it requires extra work or doing things in a way nobody has done before. People will appreciate it. Nobody owes you anything but being young and new to the industry, you have so much to prove. Those things you keep seeing about how to achieve work/life balance? Ignore them. Your work is your life, or at least it should be for the first couple of years until you have earned something.

3 Find a mentor and take advice, or at least observe everything you can. I see this in a lot of these lists and I couldn’t agree with it more. Finding someone who already has experience and connections and has the ability or desire to be a mentor is one of the most valuable things you can do. It doesn’t have to be a formal mentoring relationship, just someone who will take you under their wing and be willing to share their knowledge and experiences with you. Observe everything: what they do, what they don’t do, what you would do differently- it all will help eventually.

4 Keep up on the news. In the PR industry we live and thrive off of the news. You will be expected to know what’s going on in the news each and every day. This includes PR industry specific news, world and local news, and even pop culture news. It actually can be time consuming but it’s important to know what’s going on around you. It’s important to know what the current trends are in order to do your job successfully and the trends change quickly. Yes you will have to actually schedule in time to devote to keeping up with the news. But create a system and stick with it each day.

5 Practice however you can. Don’t turn down any opportunity to gain more experience and practice your craft. Volunteer with a local organization that may need PR help, take on a non-profit client that may not have a PR budget but you believe in, offer to help on extra accounts at work. You never know what something may turn into and the opportunities it may provide. Consider every event you go to and every situation where you’re meeting people as a networking opportunity. Always hand out and gather business cards, meet as many people as possible, and practice selling yourself.

 

What would you tell your young professional self if you could go back now?