Imagine you had a time machine and you could visit a younger version of yourself as you entered the workforce for the first time. What advice would you give yourself?
I’ve been pondering that question since my cousin Kate, who just graduated college with a degree in public relations, asked if she could “pick my brain.” She’s clearly off to a strong start with some corporate lingo and a willingness to ask for help.
Here’s what I advised her:
Know What You Want
So many of us fell into our careers. Don’t let outside circumstances carve your career path. Make methodical decisions based on your deepest desires. Take this time now to examine every potential public relations avenue —crisis, nonprofit, technology, event planning — through as many informational interviews as you can muster. Navigating a career change down the line isn’t smooth sailing.
Power Your Performance with Passion
During my first PR job, I was on fire to impress my bosses, clients and co-workers. That unbridled passion led me to establish my own public relations firm. If you want success, work harder than anyone else and suggest new ideas that will make you shine. Feel a sense of urgency about generating results.
Hone Your Writing Skills
The act of writing will undoubtedly dominate your days, no matter what PR path you pursue. To learn to write, read. Find different writers you admire and type their exact words onto the page to get a feel for their styles. Share your own writing with others and ask for feedback. Relish the opportunity to sharpen your skills. Your positive attitude will flow through your work.
Nurture Your Network
I’ve lost connection with so many valuable contacts that I had years ago. I regret that I haven’t made more of a concerted effort to keep in touch with people I used to work with. Set up your LinkedIn profile and actively nurture long-lasting connections for your mutual benefit.
Learn to Deal With Adversity
My first boss in the field used to say, “no babies died over this.” Most of the time, that’s true in the world of public relations. Mind you, this bit of advice came days before she departed the agency and left me in the lurch to train myself as the company imploded. You’ll experience failure and encounter difficult people, so learn how to deal with turmoil and tyrants.
Lock Arms with a Mentor
I can’t imagine where I would be without my mentor, Jeannette Paladino, the author of this blog. She’s been like my fairy godmother. Through her guidance, I improved my skills. But more importantly, I learned how to expand my abilities through constructive criticism rather than shutting down.
Two things she taught me: 1) Be guided by the “Doctrine of Completed Work,” meaning never turn anything in to your boss or client until it’s as perfect as you can possibly make it. 2) Paint a picture in the reader’s minds with your words.
Starting off with a clean slate is a golden opportunity I’m sure many of us wish we had right now. I envy my cousin as she gets to custom design the career of her dreams. My most important piece of advice to her is: believe with a whole and happy heart that you can achieve what you want and you will.
What advice would you add for my cousin Kate?
Amy Dean is President of Dean Public Relations. She communicates strategically and creatively across traditional and new media channels to keep businesses top of mind and at the heart of their industry’s discussions. Dean provides a range of communications consulting to raise the visibility of her clients including strategic communications positioning and key message development, media relations, press releases and bylined articles, social media strategies and execution, and seminar and webinar services.