Public Relations: Life after Graduation

You've written one hundred press releases, you can come up with strategies, key messages, tactics, and objectives in any situation, and you can do a media interview on the spot, so NOW WHAT? 

As a proud public relations college graduate, PR is a topic I'm pretty passionate about. While I learned so much in school and gained experience, I found I had a difficult time adjusting to life after school and job hunting. I've been working in the field now for over three years and I've learned a few things.

Grab a tea or coffee and a note-jotting device! (I say device cause like who uses pen and paper anymore?) *raises hand*

A brief backstory: I studied public relations at Algonquin College from September 2010 and graduated in June 2012. I just had to reference a calendar to bring you those dates. Wow. 

I simply adored the program, the people, the courses, everything. I learned so much and would re-take it if I could. After graduation though, I was slightly panicked about finding a job. The place where I did my internship couldn't hire me full time and so I was working in retail while job searching. I freelanced for them on a very part time basis and was eventually hired for more and more hours. I've been full time for almost three years now. Time flies! 

Here are five tips to help you in your job search.

1. Find a job that will pay your bills whilst searching for a PR job. 

I know you're itching to work in your chosen field but someone's got to pay those bills! You might get very busy like I did. I worked full time in two consignment clothing stores but found a way to incorporate PR into it. I began creating the stores newsletters and managing their social media. This allowed me to put my newly learned skills to the test. Grab lunch with your boss and discuss ways you can help their business with your new skills. Create a proposal or plan and present it to them. (I created a document with a social media plan to show ways I can help grow their accounts). I also started my blog a few months after graduating and that helped me hone my writing skills. 

2. Keep at it. Stay in it. Don't drift. 

The thing about college is you pay a lot of money and spend a lot of time learning new skills in hopes of getting a job you'll love. But the thing about learning is you have to continually practice your skill to build on what you've learned and mostly to remember it all. If you don't find a job right away, find other ways of staying connected to the field. Start a blog, strengthen your social media skills, grab a coffee and pick the brain of a former professor or mentor that you met in college. Write something, even if only you will see it. Keep learning. The best way to do this is to volunteer or do an internship. It might be tough to do if it's unpaid and you're living on your own but try to make it work. Even if it's on an event basis, just a few hours per week, you have to make time in your schedule. Think of an internship as a prolonged interview. It's a chance to show what you can do and prove your skills are needed. Even if they don't hire you at the end, you will learn so much and network with people who can help you. 

3. Networking: Awkward? Yes. Important? YES! 

SO IMPORTANT. Public relations is all about building strong relationships with people. Be it clients, reporters, bloggers, non profits, and the list goes on. Don't be afraid to reach out to an old boss, or your new boss, or a former professor, your friend's cousin, your mom's friend, you get the point. I had a coffee with a former professor who was the communications person at my ex-boyfriend's dad's ex-fiance's work. THAT was a mouthful. Point being: she helped me so so much at that time in my life. She re-inspired me to push myself to my full potential and gave me so many great ideas. She even offered me a part time job. Don't ever underestimate the power of coffee and face-to-face interaction. Accomplished adults want you to succeed. And they want to help you! 

Networking events are great ways to meet new people. During school, I attended as many as I could, often going alone. I highly recommend attending these solo, as scary as that may be! It's the best way to practice your networking skills and that way you are forced to talk to people. Even if I attended an event and only talked to one person, it was still worth it for me. You never know who you'll meet. If you're in Ottawa, check out IABC or CPRS. MeetUp and Eventbrite may also have these type of events. Psst- they also have apps and systems that can send you a weekly round up of events in your city! TRES COOL. 

If you're not sure who you could ask, I would say it's not uncommon these days to add someone on LinkedIn and message them if you have similar interests. Just remember that everyone is busy and if you get to the point right away and have a clear objective, you will get a positive response. Add me on LinkedIn if you haven't already!

*this is just my opinion of LinkedIn because I'm speaking from experience. Some "gurus" may say to not ever add someone you don't personally know. 

4. Follow up. Be annoying. But polite. 

Like I said in my last bullet, people are busy. That's not to say they don't care. It's likely that it's just slipped their mind or haven't gotten the chance to get back to you. If you haven't heard a response from a job or a coffee meeting invitation, there is nothing wrong with a friendly follow up message. Maybe choose a different form of contact than you originally used. Send a friendly tweet or instagram comment. "Love the new glasses! Hope to meet up soon!" Or "I see you're attending that event, I'll see you there!" 

5. Frame of Mind: Set to Positive

You might not hear a response right away about a job, or a meeting, or a proposal. That's normal. You might drift into a spiral of negative thoughts. Feeling like you're giving a lot of effort to receive nothing in return can lead to a thought like "Nobody wants me." Please, please, challenge that thought!! You are brilliant and will find a job you love. It just takes time. Practise positive self talk or write yourself daily reminder post-its on your laptop or desk so that you remember how awesome you are. If you don't believe in yourself, it will be hard for potential employers to. Keep building up your confidence because it will translate in your messages, meetings, interviews, and when you do get your first pr job! 

I hope this post helps you along in your career path. I have so much more to say and will be posting more about this topic on here. I wish you the best of luck and am always here to answer any questions you may have! 

Keep shining!

Here's a special work #OOTD for you. I literally wore this to work last week. 

Top: Value Village, $5. Jeans: Reitmans, $16. Similar here. Shoes: gifted, thrifted. Purse: gifted, vintage. Necklace: Forever 21, $12. Similar here.

Tweeting at all times. 

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