A similar version of this post originally appears on the Essential Elements blog.
Change can be scary and overwhelming. On the flip side, change can be exhilarating, refreshing and positive. Change can bring on tremendous new opportunities.
I recently decided to change jobs, which is the first major switch I’ve made since beginning my PR career. I’m now part of the Identity team helping to grow the social media department. Saying goodbye to my former colleagues and friends was bittersweet, but the new challenge and opportunities that lie ahead are very exciting.
These past three plus years have been an insane learning experience, so I wanted to share some of the top things I learned at my first PR job in the real world:
1. Have confidence, and show it. Confidence was one of the first things I struggled with after I landed a job fresh out of college. I believed I was smart and had the capabilities to succeed, but it was difficult to convey that to others, especially when many of my coworkers had years and years of experience that I lacked. I often kept quiet during client meetings because it was tough getting accustomed to being the “expert.” Expert is a strong word, but when you work with clients, they look to you for counsel and guidance and expect you to best know how to service their needs. I was extremely nervous to voice my opinion because I doubted someone twice my age would take my advice seriously. It took some time (and a good amount of self pep talks), but I developed that confidence. Without it, I would have never grown as much as I did at my job.
One of the main pieces of career advice I share with others now is to believe in yourself and have confidence. Of course you also have to prove you know what you’re talking about by showing results. Having confidence in the strategies and processes you put into place will absolutely help you achieve great results.
2. Stretch the boundaries of limitation. Just because something hasn’t ever been done doesn’t mean it can’t be. If you get a wild idea in your head and you have no clue if it will work, explore it. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Worse case scenario is it won’t work and you’re back to the drawing board. But what if it does? Think of the possibilities. Don’t ever become complacent.
Having said this, you can only do what your bosses/clients will allow. If they aren’t open to new and creative ways to accomplish their goals, then you have to ask yourself if you’re working at the right place.
3. Share what you learn. Don’t keep all those nuggets of wisdom to yourself. Spread the love! Become a mentor, speak at conferences, contribute articles to industry publications, write educational blog posts, etc. This is big in the PR world because there are SO many professionals who do PR all wrong (i.e. mass blast and send irrelevant story ideas to media). It’s on their shoulders to take the sage advice you provide and apply it, but educate them versus complaining. If you give a little, you’ll get so much more in return.
4. Read, read, read! Can’t stress that enough. I’ve heard several times “reading is the last thing I want to do outside of work.” That’s appalling to me. There’s something called continued education. Pursuing a master’s degree or an MBA isn’t in the cards for everyone, but there’s plenty you can learn by reading voraciously. And don’t just read books/articles/blogs related to your industry. You’d be surprised how much you can apply to your career when you read about topics not directly related to your line of work. You should strive to learn something new every single day. Even after you’ve been in the field for 20 or 30 years, there will ALWAYS be more to learn.
5. Be the type of person you want to work with. You don’t want to work with someone who has a terrible attitude, or someone who gloats about their accomplishments but never recognizes others for their hard work. Don’t become that person. If you find yourself falling into the Debbie Downer pit, take a step back, figure out what it is that’s making you unhappy and take the necessary steps to fix it.
I really appreciated it when clients and managers told me when I did a great job on something. I believe constructive criticism is important, but praise for a job well done is just as crucial. We all want to hear that we’re rockstars, right? Make sure you’re also being a cheerleader for your coworkers and giving them the same accolades you receive.
What would you add? Do you have any important lessons learned from your previous or current jobs?