In 2021, I made the transition from student to professional. This past year I’ve accomplished a lot, but I’ve also faced challenges and obstacles. It may seem obvious, but there are certain things student life simply cannot prepare you for.
One of these lessons during my transition to a full-time role is the recognition that as a junior member, you are a work in progress. As a student, it may seem like you have the answer to everything, or at least it can feel that way. However, it is important to recognise that there is a lot to learn and to take the time to develop new skills. In my experience, it is important to take ownership for my development and remain inquisitive.
Tip: lean on senior colleagues with experience and knowledge.
Learning on the job
As an undergraduate, you spend a lot of time studying the fundamentals and theoretical facets of PR and communications; however, you cannot reconstruct practical elements such as engaging with journalists. That is not to say you do not bring anything to the table, but you will learn quickly that experience learned on the job is critical to thriving in the PR environment.
Now that I have surpassed that one-year milestone, below I have identified several traits and best practices that will give new PR professionals the best start to their career:
- Overcommunicate – Most graduates entering the world of work often find it difficult to ask for help when needed, but I find it more productive to ask questions about the work and communicate how I feel in my role. This informs my team on where I am in my development and where support is needed to ensure that things are done correctly and delivered on time.
- Prioritise workload – Another obstacle that can take some time getting used to is being able to prioritise your workload. A simple trick that helps me is to write down all my tasks for the day in the morning. This allows you to not waste time thinking about which task needs to be carried out next. Plus, setting time targets for you to finish each task will make the process smoother as you work throughout the day.
- Be confident – Things may seem overwhelming initially but remember to be confident in your abilities as you showcase yourself as an asset to the team. Whether that is contributing to brainstorms or offering an alternative perspective for a new campaign direction, your opinions are valued as we aim to deliver the best work for our clients. This will also allow you to be taken more seriously by your team, which is integral for career advancement.
- Be proactive – Proactivity allows you to have the self-awareness to uncover potential problems or offer help to other members of the team where needed. Being able to support the team by knowing current trends, news stories or campaigns can allow us to take advantage of an opportunity beneficial for a client. From this, the team will understand your capability to analyse scenarios that could occur and act accordingly.
- Look after yourself – The days of long school holidays are now a distant dream, so it is important to take the time out to look after yourself. In my first initial weeks, I remember a colleague sharing that “we work in PR and not the ER.” They were telling me that although work can be stressful, it is supposed to be exciting and rewarding. By taking time off, it will allow you to reset and come back feeling re-energised and engaged with the work. If you do not you will suffer from burnout.