Strategies & Tactics

Reading, Writing and Networking: Advice for Graduating Seniors

By John Elsasser

May 1, 2019

Each month, we post a question on PRSA’s LinkedIn account, and share an array of the responses in our What’s Trending section.

For this issue, in honor of graduation season, we asked: What’s your advice for the PR/communications class of 2019?

You had a lot to say on this topic! We had more than 50 replies in the first few hours. Unfortunately, we only have room for a handful of them. I compiled some of the answers here, and we’ll publish even more in a post on PRsay this month. There’s so much solid guidance.

I thought about what I might have to offer new graduates. In my editor’s note from April, I shared a lesson I learned based on my move from Columbus, Ohio, to New York City in 1994 (without a job lined up): Be patient.

As I mentioned, there was a learning curve when I started at PRSA in March 1994. For starters, I wasn’t accustomed to keeping traditional office hours. As a reporter in Columbus, I spent much of the day out and about in the area that I covered, often filing my articles at odd hours (like midnight on Sundays).

While there was time reporting in the field at PRSA, I was at a desk more often than I was accustomed to, partially because of all the editing that needed to happen. In the first few months here, I wanted a job where I could show up whenever I wanted! Anyway, I’m glad I gave myself time to adjust to the new work flow. And here I am 25 years later.

Being patient works for new pros as well. I graduated at the end of the summer quarter and, one month later, felt frustrated that I hadn’t found an editorial position yet, even though it was a tight market for new journalists.

Instead of staying the course and following my instincts, I signed up with a temporary employment service. I accepted an assignment in a six-week training program to provide customer service at a call center for a large bank. It was good work, but not what I wanted to do. However, I felt obligated to be doing something even though my finances were OK at the moment.

On a Wednesday, three days into the bank gig, I heard from Katy Delaney, a former editor I worked with at The Lantern, Ohio State’s student newspaper, with a lead about an opening at a local suburban newspaper chain. I interviewed that Saturday with the editor, Marty Rozenman, who essentially hired me on the spot.

And with that, my five-day career at the call center had concluded. Rather sheepishly, I phoned the following Monday and said that I wouldn’t be returning.

So with that, here are my three bullet points of advice:

  • Be patient.
  • Maintain your network. (Thanks, Katy!)
  • Follow your instincts.

Advice for New PR Grads

  • Read as much as you can! — Tricia Richards
  • Don’t confuse confidence with arrogance. — Samantha Villegas, APR
  • Never dismiss someone based on their rank/position. You never know who has the connections you need! — Erin Shockley
  • Be proactive and take the time to network with others outside of your professional circle. — Rocio Osuna
  • Graduating may seem like the end of your education, but you should treat it as the beginning; never stop learning. — Randy Brown

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