The feeling of fear has been a constant companion of mine for the past couple of months. However, I realized that I have been experiencing fear because I have been letting my regrets took control of me. My regrets have been regarding my career choice, but not in the way you are thinking. I wish I would have found PR sooner. I am completely in love with it, but with one more year of college left, I do have a lot of catching up to do. I’m talking PR classes, internships, business cards, building your brand, making connections, etc. THERE’S A LOT! But it is so much fun that it is all worth it. So, for all you young bucks who are thinking about declaring PR/Communication as your major and career, these 5 PR-Now tips are for you. And for all you veterans with about 3 years of school under your belt, and just switched to PR, I feel for you, my friend, and this is especially for you.
1.) REGISTER FOR CLASSES NOW: Now this is probably the toughest thing to do. You’re not sure if declaring your as Communication or PR is the right bet for you. You don’t want to register for all these classes, find out you don’t like them, and realize you wasted a whole semester. My theory is that you have always known that Communication or PR is the right choice; you just haven’t realized it yet. I knew in high school I was great at public speaking and just simply talking to people. I was good at communicating with others. Did I know then I wanted to become a PR expert? No, I just knew my strength was in this area and I wanted to pick a major similar to that. My college offered a B.A. in Communication and a B.A. in Mass Communications & Journalism with a option in Public Relations. I knew that I was strong at communication so I went with a B.A. in Comm, but I still was not sure if PR was the correct field for me. A B.A. in Comm was broad, a good start, and the fact that a B.A. in PR was so specific, that kind of scared me. So I want to tell you, and what I wish I could tell my college freshman-self, DON’T BE SCARED AND JUST SIGN UP FOR AT LEAST ONE CLASS IN PR. Don’t get me wrong, I love my major! A communication degree is considered a valuable degree, I have gained great friends, my professors are amazing, and those 10-12 page papers have definitely forced me to become a better writer. But if I would have signed up for a PR class like I thought I should, I would have discovered PR was the right field for me in the very beginning.
2.) START INTERNSHIPS NOW: I knew the communication field was right for me, but I still hadn’t found my passion for PR yet. Even if you think this field might be right for you, GO AHEAD AND LOOK FOR INTERNSHIPS NOW! I made the mistake of waiting until I was sure about PR and then started looking. A big no-no! Landing an internship, at least for me, has been extremely difficult. The search is long and tough, and living in a small city does not make it any easier. If you feel like “maybe I should research into PR,” then go for it! Gaining internship experience earlier on is important because you figure out if this field really is for you. If it is, AWESOME! If not, at least you tried, now you know, and gained some type of experience.
3.) MAKE CONNECTIONS NOW: I also knew PR was the right field for me because I’m that girl on the first day of school who will strike a conversation with you because I enjoy meeting new people. Now, some people may not be like that, and some may even think “Ugh, don’t talk to me! I just want to come to class, pass, and leave.” BUT! The students I met in my comm and PR classes were the exact same way as me and I knew I found my place. Go out, shake peoples hands, and introduce yourself. Even introduce yourself to your professors! Professors are impressed by students who take that first step. And remember, it’s not what you know, but who you know! What if you’re wanting to get into entertainment PR and the girl sitting next to you in class has 2 uncles working for Fox News and Warner Bros (which really did happen to me)?! YOU NEVER KNOW! So be friendly and say hello :)
4.) THE TIME FOR SOCIAL MEDIA IS NOW: Social media is no longer just about staying in touch with childhood friends over Facebook. I mean, it still is, but social media has evolved. You probably already have a Facebook, but you should have a Twitter, LinkedIn, and personal website as well. I love Twitter! Start building your network and establishing yourself now. I’m making so many connections and learning so much from all my PR peers. However, I believe LinkedIn is crucial! I regret not setting up my LinkedIn account sooner, so do not make my mistake. LinkedIn is a social media platform that highlights your work experience, education, groups, etc. It is clean, simple, straight-to-the-point, and when applying for internships, the first thing employers search for.
5.) LASTLY-ASK FOR HELP NOW: If these previous tips do not help or you are still stuck on what to do, ask for help! Talk to friends, parents, counselors, etc! My favorites are my parents and professors. Professors, the good ones, at least, are there to help. Schedule an informational interview or go during their office hours. Explain to them your confusions, interests, and what you think you want to do. I am a huge supporter of talking to your professors, especially the ones in your major department. They have real-world knowledge, are experts in their field, and have connections. Go in and pretty much say, “Will you help me? I’m seeking advice on where to go in my field.
I hope these Five PR-Now Tips help you out!
A guest post by our Director of Public Relations, Selina Pichardo