As a current senior graduating in May, I have reflected quite a bit on where I am now, what I have done and where I want to go. Looking back there are things I wish I had realized when I sat down for my first class my freshman year, because what I didn’t realize then was that those next few years would fly by. Therefore, I made a list of the top four things I thought every Communications/PR student should start thinking about day one:
Tip #1: Begin by defining what you want to do. I defined what I wanted to do late in my junior year and by the time my “expected graduation” rolled around, I had fallen short of a couple classes that I needed for graduation. If I had defined what I wanted to do earlier on, I could have been more involved and actively taken advantage of the opportunities available. At the same time, if you are not sure, then begin by joining as many clubs as you can in topics that interest you. You may even be able to include PR in those clubs/organizations (further information in Tip #3.) When you begin to define your career path and goals, you can tailor those activities to suit your needs. But do not do nothing, I can guarantee it will pay off to have participated in these activities in the long run. Experience is everything.
Tip #2: Do Not Be Afraid. College goes by so fast and there are so many missed opportunities that can happen if you are too afraid to put yourself out there and try something new. This is the time to mess up and make mistakes and figure out who you want to be for the rest of your life. It might take a couple of tries but do not be afraid. Apply for that internship you always wanted and work your best to get it, if you don’t it means it wasn’t the time for you and you can always try again. Don’t be afraid to fail because if you never give up, you are not failing.
Make it work for you: Sometimes many students choose or need to work while in school. And while you may be thinking, “I don’t have time to do this or that,” sometimes the places you think don’t need PR, might need it the most- or don’t have it at all. For example, I was a server at a restaurant for my first 3 years in college. It was only after I got out of the restaurant industry and into my major that I realized I could have been doing PR the entire time. I could have worked on their website, I could have developed a Facebook or Instagram page for internal communication, and I could have had a bigger voice and used what I was learning in classes and applied it to the real world. So you do not always have to choose one thing over the other, make it work for you and your long term career goals. It will give you something great to put on your resume and you will still get the bills paid in the process.
Make Lasting Connections Last but not least, make lasting connections. In PR, one of our duties is to build and maintain relationships with clients, consumers, businesses, etc. But before you get in the real world, make those connections with those around you who have the same goals and who are aspiring for the same thing.
I took a study abroad trip to London for an International Seminar in Public Relations and I can say, as good as the class was, the benefit was meeting an amazing group of girls that were just as driven to succeed in the field as I was. They are girls I can call and ask for help on an assignment, run an idea by and girls that I know I can count on when I get into the “real world.”
These are just a few of the many tips I wish I had known when I first came to college. Remember, it is never too late to take that risk, always begin by thinking ahead, make those connections and do not be afraid.
Natalia Schiappacasse is an account manager for NinerNation Relations. She is currently a senior majoring in Public Relations and International Studies. While in her couple of years in college she has been an active member of the PRSSA, has particpated in the Disney College Program and spent a study abroad month in London studying international public relations. She is currently the PR Director for the PRSSA and also has an local internship with a small remote team based out of Miami, FL. Her skills include speaking English, Spanish and Portuguese fluently, organization and her eagerness to continuously learn.