Growing up, I often complained about my parents never letting me do anything. Well, after 24 years, I take it back. 2020 is the strictest parent I’ve ever had. I’ll admit, I didn’t take the virus seriously in the beginning. I treated the shutdown like I would a small vacation. Assuming that 2020 would let up sooner than later, I was “getting around to it” and taking advantage of this rare opportunity to stay home, reset and solidify my foundation.
As an aspiring public relations specialist, I have a firm understanding that this is a very competitive industry and that I must do all things possible to stand out. In a perfect world, a college degree would be a ticket to a major-related job that’s ready for you to start within the 6 months allotted to students to start paying back their debts. Unfortunately, these degrees are looking more and more like a sheet of paper. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for going to college and furthering your education if you wish to. Just make sure to go the extra mile. To help you achieve that, I have come up with 4 things everyone should do before the shutdown is over.
1. Get in the Middle of the Herd
Covid-19 has isolated you enough, and now it’s time to find your people. Look for a society, internship, or school organization and get in where you fit in. It is important that we surround ourselves with a community of like-minded people. This group setting will help counteract the many impacts that the pandemic has on on mental health, open doors for your career and brainstorm material for future projects.
The organization I chose to cling to is Public Relations Student Society of America. PRSSA was founded for the sole purpose of helping students like me to become professional PR representatives. They offer webinars, certifications, conferences, publication opportunities, internships, etc. Signing up is only half the battle. The rest is fulfilled once you find yourself in the midst of all their benefits. Introduce yourself to the current leaders, run for office, and register for those virtual conferences!
2. Collect Certificates
If there is a digital or paper certificate at the end of the course, then it’s worth taking. Certifications show that you mean business, and they look spectacular on a resume. Not all courses are free to take, but I’d still recommend scrolling through some of the quick, cheaper courses. While researching available trainings, I realized I never saved a certificate from completing a CITI Program course on social and behavioral research, so jog your memory before you gyp yourself like I did!
Revisit your society and upload your membership card to your LinkedIn, and see what type of certifications they offer or recommend. PRSSA offers a Certificate in Principles of Public Relations that students can apply to test for within 6 months of graduation that employers are always impressed to see.
These sites offer a variety of certs (and there are a ton more!): Coursera, Cybrary, Google Digital Garage, Free Code Camp, LinkedIn
3. Get Informed
The success of a public relations professional is dependent on the ability to stay relevant, useful and inspired. Subscribe to newsletters, blogs and content that peak your interest, while staying mindful of fake news! And I don’t mean fake news by Donald Trump’s definition. Find sources that are in the center, top of the media bias chart. If you don’t like neutral, factual news, then for every source you follow that is for it, subscribe to a source that’s against it.
Learn the ins and outs of social media. Find the tutorials (and certifications!) that each platform has to offer and consider how it can help your brand (business or personal). Use hashtags and get good at them. There are over 2.6 billion active users on Facebook, so your job is to introduce yourself and give us a reason to remember you. Social media is constantly competing and changing. Catch up if you can!
This last one is important to never stop doing. Beyond your buddies, who do you know? What do those people do? What interests you about them? How do they inspire you? How can they be of service to you? Most importantly, do you agree with their brand? Don’t connect with someone you don’t agree with just because they have a lot of followers. That will inevitably come back to bite you in the ass. Someone you know may be starting a new business and is waiting for you to offer your services. Those slots won’t be open for long. Experience will be wherever you create it.
Connect with people at virtual events held by your society or social platforms. I’m going to be honest, registering for ICON 2020 made my hands sweat! The minute the registry required me to state my job title and position, I froze. Do I qualify? What if an actual professional laughs at my job title because I’m really just an amateur? Forget it. I’ll put “student” and leave the job titles to the people in the suits. But what if I end up looking like I stumbled upon the conference on accident? Do I really want to spend all of ICON repeating an elevator speech response to “what do you do?” and risk looking like I don’t have any clear direction? Luckily, I focused more on the third and final outcome — to come as the digital media consultant that I am and enjoy the professional development, showcases and keynote speakers.
You can overcome this job freeze and take charge of your future. Take these suggestions, and you will stand out amongst job candidates. Follow the necessary steps to come out a better, shinier person this year.
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. -Wayne Gretzky” -Michael Scott
‘You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take’ – that is T-shirt worthy!!
Great piece, Dymond!
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