College helps us gain important skills that we will need to succeed in our PR careers, but we learn the most when we actually apply those skills. Even after multiple internships, the first full-time agency position will be an experience like no other. For the first time, we’re not paying to learn or earning credits for graduation. Our learning doesn’t have a short-term end date. Being held accountable means more than just showing up; our managers will expect us to produce quality work for our clients. We’re now PR professionals.
Photo: Identity Account Assistants Sarah Collica and Brooke Ziomek
From one newbie to the next, here’s what I’ve learned as an account assistant at Identity. It’s been 10 weeks, so I thought I’d give you 10 nuggets of wisdom:
#1. Dive in.
This is the time in our lives when we have the greatest opportunity to learn the most. We are now at the bottom of the hierarchy, which may be intimidating, but don’t let it be. It basically just means we have something to learn from everyone. Experts that will help us grow now surround us. Don’t pass any opportunity up to attend an event, meeting, or even a call with your coworkers and managers. How else will we ever learn to manage accounts on our own in the future?
#2. Write it down. Even if you don’t think you need to.
Better safe than sorry. The first few weeks on the job will include an overwhelming amount of information to take in. No matter how well you’re listening, there’s no way you can remember every process for posting to a website, format for media materials or every request your manager makes. Take organized notes, and reference them often.
#3. The sponge effect. Practice makes perfect.
Soak it all in. Keep reading. Once you learn a process, practice it. Each process you don’t have to ask your manager for assistance with proves your independence. Each process you remember without looking at your notes shows your progress.
#4. Speak up.
You’ll be assigned a supervisor, maybe more than one. When you get to participate in a meeting with other superiors, take advantage of it. Speak up. Let them know you’re there and contribute ideas. It shows initiative.
Take advantage of extra opportunities to do something that isn’t necessarily in your job description. It may be extra work, but someone will notice and it will be a nice change of pace to accomplish something with a different team.
#6. Think outside the box.
Don’t be afraid to give ideas. You were hired to bring something different to the table.
#7. Learn outside the box.
Your co-workers and superiors are great resources, but attending events hosted by other organizations can expand your learning even further. Read the publications you want to get placements in. Attend events where reporters you might be pitching someday will be. The sooner they learn your name, the better…especially in an environment where you’re not asking them for anything.
#8. We’re communications professionals. Be social.
You can never have too many friends. Don’t be afraid to get to know your co-workers and other PR professionals in your region. You’ll learn more about who you’re working with, and it will make the office environment more fun. Eat lunch with coworkers when you can. Attend a birthday bash. Break the ice. You won’t regret it.
#9. Think big.
Every project you work on directly impacts your clients and agency. Think strategically, but aim for the stars. Think about the big picture instead of only focusing on day-to-day. Your clients will thank you.
#10. Be fully engaged.
Take everything in when you’re meeting with your manager, participating in a client meeting or listening in on a client media interview. Make notes for things to remember for the next time you participate in something similar. Also, chime in and ask questions. Show that you’re being attentive and inquisitive.
What tips would you add for new PR pros? If you’re a PR pro who just started your career, what have you learned?