Last weekend, myself and Becca Hess, a junior Public Relations major, attended the 2014 PRSSA (Public Relations Student Society of America) National Conference in Washington D.C. For those of you who are not familiar with PRSSA, we are an organization dedicated to helping students prepare for a career in Public Relations through networking tools, workshops, event planning, fundraising, and much more. I am a senior graduating in December, and after attending this conference there is a lot of information I want to share with my fellow students and peers. I was given incredible advice for all students, This is not just for Public Relations majors.just in general for any student.
Transitioning from a college student to a professional is not easy. Landing that first job takes a lot of focus and determination. Here are the best ways to start thinking about your career, further your college experience, and really wow the company you have an interview with!
1. During an interview, talk about what you did and the results you saw. An employer is going to look through your resume and break it down by your experiences. If you fundraised $500 for your organization, make sure the employer knows that. Numbers are so important. Your resume is telling a story about what you can bring to the table. Did you help plan an event with your fraternity or sorority? How did that event go, and how many people came and were impressed? The best way to really sell yourself is not to tell, but to show.
2. Personality traits that most employers look for: A very popular question that was asked at this conference was “What personality traits do you look for in a potential employee?” Employers are always looking for people that are ambitious, passionate, curious, engaging, confident, and have the love to learn. If two people are interviewing for the same job, and one is extremely passionate about the field and the company they are interviewing with, and asks questions, they will get the job over someone who shows no ambition and comes with no questions. If you are not driven and passionate about your field, someone else will get the job you want.
3. Look for a mentor. A mentor is someone you can look up to, and ask for help whenever you need. There are several benefits from having a good mentor. They will be able to give you detailed industry knowledge, and access to some of their contacts. You can also learn valuable life and business skills from your mentor, and come to them with any questions or problems you have. Having a mentor is like having a coach, it’s someone to learn from, and it’s also a friend to have and great networking.
4. Go for your dreams. So, you’re from a small town in the middle of nowhere, and just got a job offer in New York City, take it! Yes, this can be very intimidating, moving out of your parent’s house into a big city, but it’s a great way to start you career, and start networking! If you always wanted to move out to L.A., go ahead and apply to companies out there! Taking a risk is one of the most important things you can do. What’s the worst that’s going to happen, you don’t get a call back? Move on, and keep shooting for the stars.
5. Experience. Experience. Experience. One of the most important ways to get the most out of your college career and to prepare you for when you graduate is to gain as much experience as possible! One way is to do as many internships as possible. By doing more than one, you start to get a feel of what path you want to go on, and what you like and do not like. Internships also give you real world experience and lead you to more contacts, which by the way, network your butt off. Another way to gain experience is to join organizations on campus. For example, if you are a Public Relations major, joining PRSSA is a great organization to meet people, and learn about PR outside of the classroom. Greek Life is also another way you can get involved on campus. Greeks do a lot of fundraising, events, and community service, which are valuable skills to obtain in any industry. Take your learning outside of the classroom and get the opportunity to apply it in the real world.
6. Travel. Something that looks great on a resume is knowing different languages, and having an understanding of the globe. Many big companies are global, which means they have offices in several different countries. Today, many employers look to see if you know other languages, and consider that a huge plus. Another way to impress an employer is to study abroad. Not only does this look great, but it is such an amazing opportunity and experience! You get to take classes in another country, when will you ever have that opportunity again? Sometimes students overlook the value of global knowledge, when it is extremely useful.
7. Be yourself. Honesty is a very important trait that employers look for. Don’t make anything up on your resume, and don’t fake it during an interview. The best way to find out where you truly belong is to just be yourself. I know it can sometimes be hard to think about this, but one way that will help is to let go of fear. Don’t think about what could go wrong, focus on what could go right, and show them what you got! It is very important to prepare for an interview, but don’t psych yourself out. Just relax, and you will do great!
8. Come prepared with knowledge of the company. This to me is the most important factor during an interview. Every session during the conference, we learned about this. Always research the company you are interviewing for. If it is a PR agency, know what work they do, and who their clients are. You never want to go into an interview not knowing about your future employer, and always come with questions, it’s important and shows you did your research.