Sometimes entering a new workplace can feel a bit like walking into a battle zone. You are adjusting to a foreign environment, figuring out friend from foe, all the while trying to make a killer first impression and show that you are capable of great work.
Couple this with the transition of casual to full time work, and you might just find your anxiety levels reaching a new high.
Having recently entered the world of PR, I found that any advice was good advice, so I’ve decided to return the favour. Here are my top five tips for those who are about to spread their wings and make their way into the working world of communications:
1. Interning is essential
These days interning is as valuable as a degree, simply because your chances of getting a job without relevant professional experience are slim.
An internship gives you the opportunity to learn skills that aren’t necessarily offered to you at university. These skills, which may only take a day or two to master, will form the basis of your entry-level job.
An internship also allows you to familiarise yourself with a professional workplace; something you shouldn’t take for granted. Insight surrounding the people, the expectations, the workload and the politics of the office will help you to feel much more comfortable as you set out to start your career.
2. Learn from those around you
Honestly, that last sentence deserves a stand alone point. There is so much fantastic, insightful information that swirls around the office on a day-to-day basis, and I can’t stress this enough: Absorb it all!
From the little things, such as how to handle a difficult person on the phone, to the bigger topics, such as strategising, the more information you can digest the more valuable your skill set will become for yourself, your employer and your coworkers.
Keep your ears open for any handy tips and tricks. Even those who don’t necessarily work in your field or directly with you will have invaluable information that they can share.
3. Accept any task, big or small, and accept it willingly
Without selling yourself short, you need to understand that every task is a good task. If it’s a smaller task, it is a great way to demonstrate your capability, and if it is a big task, it gives you the opportunity to improve and add to your skill set.
Christine Fanthome, a research associate at the University College London has said that “a common source of anxiety for students stems from being given work of an inappropriate level,” and I would say that the same applies to entry level employees.
If you are ever uncertain about a brief or a job, be sure to ask questions. It is always better to take the time to clarify something and get it right than to misunderstand your task and have to start again.
4. Be friendly and professional
I am beginning to discover just how small the world of communications really is. You are bound to work with or for someone you went to university with. You will quickly form relationships with journalists, influencers and other companies, and you will begin to realise the value of professional connections.
It sounds like a given, but always try to be friendly and professional. Help out in the office when you can, try to make others’ jobs as easy as possible and get to know your fellow PR people – for you may end up working with them one day. In the office nothing will go unnoticed and your attitude will play a big role in how you are received and perceived as a professional.
5. Maintain perspective
“It’s PR, not ER” has come to be my mantra. It’s so important to maintain perspective throughout your career and your life.
Don’t beat yourself up over little mistakes or problems; take everything as an opportunity or learning.
Learn from our PR Manager here – Lessons in PR: How to manage an overseas event
The PR industry can be fast paced and so it can be easy to get caught up in the buzz of it all. While our work is valuable, it is also important to remember the bigger picture.
In ten years neither you nor your client will remember the one publication that you left off the media list, or the phone call that didn’t quite go to plan. You’ll only remember the really great team wins or the exciting product launches and events that you worked on, so focus your energy on those positive outcomes.