As a double concentration Communications student, I am very thankful for the things I have been learning in my courses thus far because they are preparing me for my future in public relations. There are so many aspects to PR and many people don’t really understand what it is.
In short, a PR professional is the middle person between an organization and the public. To delve more into the skills required; they range from the ability to use a computer well, things like Photoshop and InDesign are very useful, social media is a huge part of this too, also being a people-person, having the capability to talk to others in a comfortable yet professional way is important.
So you may be asking yourself, how do I develop these skills further? You need to get involved on campus and get some hands on experience. On campus opportunities are bountiful and often times campus organizations can facilitate this for you. Groups to look into include The Coyote Chronicle, Coyote Radio, Coyote Calling, Local Matters, and The Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA).
For example, when I was working for the campus newspaper, The Coyote Chronicle, I had the opportunity to attend a journalism conference. This opportunity doesn’t come along all the time and I am so thankful I was able to take full advantage by attending the workshops and mingling with other students from all over the country. We were taught many things, and they didn’t just apply to the newspaper industry either. The concepts were ones that could transition over in to any communications field. I attended workshops about layout and what’s appealing to the eye, how to grab a reader’s attention and there was even one about how to manage a team. They were so useful and will continue to be for a long time to come.
What I really want to instill in you is the benefit that can come from joining a club. My story is about joining PRSSA, which is the student version of the prestigious professional Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and has furthered my experience vastly in just a few months. For this club you attend weekly meetings that differ from week to week, which is so exciting and informative. We’ve had guest speakers come and inform us of real world situations and how to handle them. We have workshops on more in-depth concepts like press releases, cover letters and resumes. We plan events from start to finish and I’ve gotten a real understanding of the actuality involved in implementing a fundraiser, for example.
We also have off-campus opportunities; we all just attended an event for networking with local businesses and fellow students called Mingle Bells. There were professionals from all over; including representatives from PRSA, American Marketing Association (AMA), California Association of Public Information Officials (CAPIO), and American Advertising Federation (AAF). Through a fundraising event our club chairpersons were able to cover the cost for members interested in attending, so there was no cost to us. It was so valuable in the sense that we were able to network with professionals and ask questions or inquire about possible internships. I knew the event was coming so I prepared myself by printing business cards and bringing a pen which sounds simple enough but a lot of people don’t think of it. Speaking of things people don’t often think of let me parlay some of the information I think is valuable to delving into the “real world.”
Dress for the job you want
- Blues and yellows are good colors to wear. Avoid hostile colors like red or orange.
- Wear a watch, it sends a subconscious message that you’re timely and organized.
- Make sure your hygiene is up to par; do your nails, wash your hair, etc.
Be aware of your body language
- When talking to someone, make sure to keep eye contact, this can feel weird but is an important aspect in western cultures.
- Also, don’t be afraid to smile, but there’s a fine line between being creepy so try to follow the lead of the person you’re talking to.
- It may seem weird, but don’t sit down until they offer you a seat. It shows them you respect their environment.
- Bring your resume, cover letter, writing samples, anything else you can think of even if you’ve already sent them a digital copy in case they ask you for a hard copy.
- Go over in your head different talking points and try to prepare as best you can for possible questions they might ask. Consider Googling something as simple as “interview questions”.
- Read up about the company you’re interviewing with beforehand. It shows the interviewer you care about the company and they may even ask you something to that effect.
In summary, start thinking about your future. When college is over you need to be prepared for what lies ahead. Look into joining a club and think about donating some of your time to things that will benefit you in the long run. Take advantage of what our campus has to offer; don’t forget about the different centers we have on campus like the writing and career center. And good luck out there; hope to see you all in the professional field!