Securing and acing your first PR position can be daunting.
There is no red flashing arrow pointing you to the job that’s the right fit, and once you’re settled into your position, your journey on the path to success has just begun. For PR pros fresh out of college, learning about new clients also means learning about new industries and taking on tasks that exercise and grow your skillset.
Though there is no direct road map for your first year in the PR industry, there are a few tips and tricks beginner communicators can use to navigate your way to a successful career in public relations:
1. Don’t be intimidated by titles.
When you’re in a classroom, there are two positions: the teacher or the student. This notion will be turned on its head in your first year in PR. At small agencies, you can often have the opportunity to work one-on-one with professionals at every level from managing partner to interns—and they all have insights from which you can learn.
When you’re in an entry-level position, be careful not to deliberately push yourself to the bottom of the barrel—your co-workers won’t. If you have an idea for a project and time allows, don’t wait for an account supervisor to assign it. Instead, raise your hand, plan and execute. If you have a recommendation, share it. People will take notice.
It’s important to know when it’s time to step back, listen and learn, but also when it’s time to step up and show your skills.
2. Embrace learning.
During your first year in almost any career, each experience is a new learning opportunity. Relax—you’re not expected to be an expert on everything.
Learn from others around you. My manager and I have a weekly check-in devoted to discussing and prioritizing work. It gives me an opportunity to regularly ask for feedback in a comfortable, one-on-one setting.
It’s also okay to make mistakes. Acknowledge your missteps and turn them into learning opportunities every chance you get.
3. Seek networking opportunities.
Building professional relationships outside of the office can provide value to individual professional development. In some cases, it can also provide value to your organization.
Inviting colleagues to attend with you is also a good way to show interest and build relationships. If it’s hard to find networking events, contact your college network and create networking opportunities. You can also look for ways to get involved at your organization. Getting involved with a group in the office can enable you to collaborate with professionals that you don’t regularly work with, and can also give you a chance to provide value to new business pursuits.
4. Be a mentor.
You have knowledge to share, too.
One of the most rewarding parts of my job in the first year was becoming an intern coordinator in Stratacomm’s intern program. From overseeing the hiring and onboarding process and managing weekly assignments to playing a role in the interns’ capstone project, I’ve learned (and taught) time management skills and shouldered administrative responsibility to contribute to the firm’s operations.
Mentoring can be extremely rewarding, and student interns can learn necessary career skills along the way.
Nicole Golvala is an account executive in Stratacomm’s Washington, D.C. office. A version of this article originally appeared on the agency’s blog.