The older I became, the more I learned the importance of treating my field of study as a hobby.
And it really has become just that.
It’s quite obvious that in any industry, if you genuinely enjoy what you do, you’re going to produce better work without feeling burdened by a full-time role, which can become stressful.
experience experience experience
As a junior, and upon my arrival to Penn State’s University Park, I began to take advantage of the exposure to experience in my field of study, which happens to be Public Relations.
Penn State’s communications program has a plethora of opportunities to get your hands dirty. Take advantage of it.
When I got here, I quickly realized that this industry is competitive, and when I say competitive, I mean it.
You have to work towards experience, because I almost immediately understood that just my classes weren’t going to cut it while applying to internships and jobs.
As crazy as it sounds, I couldn’t be more happy about it. Pushing myself to get out of my comfort zone and try new things to challenge myself academically has benefited me in so many ways, in and out of the classroom.
I started applying myself by joining different clubs, organizations and taking on a few different internships. I know this is a no brainer, but I really believe that when you get involved with real-life, hands-on experience, it makes all the difference in your overall understanding of the industry, which at times can be challenging — given the vast amount of communications related tasks and placements in any job in the communications field.
Elaborating on that last sentence, now more than ever, communications fields are overlapping a ton. A lot of companies implement an integrated team — where marketing, PR, social media, analytics, etc. work as one unified body.
Not only that, but a few months back when I was applying for jobs and internships, I noticed that any communications degree, marketing, business analytics, etc. can work fluidly in many of the same positions.
most importantly, talk to people
Okay anyways, besides that, my number one thing I learned so far is that networking can get you far.
Especially in an area such as PR, where soft skills are SO necessary, and it doesn’t matter how well you perform on paper if you can’t hold a conversation to save your life.
While on the job market, you are making an attempt to sell yourself. Highlighting your experience and doing your research on buzzwords in the industry is key to standing out next to peers.
I mean think about it, how would companies expect you to represent their brand well if you can’t represent yourself well?
Researching the company and, for lack of a better term, manipulating your resume in order to highlight what they want to see is a wonderful skill.
Don’t lie about these things, though. This is why having a broad, wide-ranging list of experiences is crucial in PR, because like I mentioned earlier, placements can include an extensive variety of overlapping skills.
For example, if you are applying for a position in affiliate marketing, and your minor involves a hefty amount of search engine optimization, this is a key skill that the recruiter is probably seeking. Focus on it and make sure it’s brought to light.
Okay, back into networking.
So, when you network, you’re attempting to build and develop a deeper connection with an individual, in order to show them a bit more about yourself, and aspects of you that they can’t figure out just by picking up and reading your resume.
See where this is coming together?
This deeper connection makes you automatically more eligible to stand-out to someone, and even if you don’t get the position in the company you hoped to get, by creating this relationship, you can be considered for future opportunities that may better suit you.
According to topresume.com, “It goes without saying that networking is incredibly important during a job search. Your chances of landing the job increase tenfold with the right employee referral. And, if you’re looking to make a career change, your professional network can support you by helping you find connections in the industry you are trying to break into or helping you find leads for jobs at specific companies.”
Many companies and organizations nowadays understand the importance of networking on any level. This means internally and externally.
There are usually a ton of networking events in corporations. Take advantage of every opportunity you get and take the time to know who you’re working with.
It will never, ever hurt.
Plus, on the bright side, these events are usually really fun.
Schools often have them with alumni, which can get you super, super far. Especially Penn Staters.
Our alumni network is absolutely huge. And in my experience, a fellow Penn Stater will always be willing to go the extra mile to help when they could.
Do your research, and if you have your eye on a certain company, see if you can seek out an alumni from your school employed there and set up a meeting.
So, this might sound like a no brainer, is to be excited to talk about yourself!
Everyone loves to talk about themselves, duh.
But showing pure excitement about experiences in the industry is nine times out of ten considered to be a breath of fresh air. No one wants to work with someone who seems as though life has been sucked out of them before they even begin.
That may sound obvious, but trust me, it’s really a skill so many tend to forget when put on the spot.
and lastly, follow-up
Not only is making that official connection important, but taking time to water the seed that has been planted is great to keep in mind.
Stay in touch!
Make sure to exchange emails and LinkedIn profiles when meeting new professionals. Follow up with a simple message like, “It was great meeting you, looking forward to staying in touch!”
Little things like this will really stand out, believe me.
To wrap things up: treat your field as a hobby, get that experience, make those connections and take time to stay connected.
It’s never too late to invest into your network.
You’ll thank me later.