So, you are embarking on your journey as a PR or marketing professional. You have your education and business attire, but there are a few other things that every new professional must have. While none of these things are particularly expensive, if you don’t have the extra cash, tell mom and dad you’d like a new pro starter kit for Christmas. It’s one gift they’d probably be happy to give!
My handy dandy padfolio containing my generic business cards!
Business cards. When you are first starting your career, there is a good chance you will move from internship to internship for a while. During this time, the organizations you work for probably won’t make business cards for you and if they do, they will be outdated as soon as you are on to your next position. Until you are settled with a company that you know you will stay with for a while, I suggest having some generic business cards made with your name, industry and contact information. There are plenty of online printers that make it cheap and easy like Vistaprint.
A padfolio. These things are great for conferences, interviews and on the job. Great for keeping your resume, business cards, a pen and whatever else you may need all in one spot. Mine is similar to this one at Staples and it has had a ton of use in the last few years.
Thank-you cards and stamps. Never under-estimate the power of a handwritten thank you. Always send a thank you note after an interview, informational interview, the end of an internship, or sometime someone just helps you out. Don’t wait until after one of these events to go buy thank you cards and stamps, keep them on hand (perhaps in your padfolio)! For interviews it is especially important to get your thank you delivered as soon as possible. Write that note in that in the car, stamp it and stick it in the mail before even going home. For the actual cards, you don’t have to spend a lot on them, it’s about the content, not how fancy the card is. I’ve even bought some at the Dollar Tree. My one suggestion is to buy ones that look professional and appropriate regardless of gender.
I’m sure there are other things, but I think these three are biggies. What is your favorite career accessory?
Through my thesis, networking events and chatting with friends and coworkers, I’ve had a lot of conversations with PR practitioners that are in their first few years of work experience. Based on these conversations, I’ve gathered some words of wisdom from my peers:
You know what you know. It is important that you don’t undervalue your experience or your education. Everyone has something to bring to the table, so next time you are at a brainstorming meeting and have an idea, have the confidence to speak up. Something you learned in class or at an internship may give you a unique perspective that is different than those around you. That said…
You don’t know everything. This piece of advice has two parts to it. First, nobody likes an entry-level practitioner who thinks they know everything. Be humble and realize you have a lot to learn. Second, you can’t grow if you don’t recognize what you know and what you don’t know. If you don’t know something, ask questions!
Seize the day. It is up to you to get the most out of your work experiences, especially early on in your career. Ask for new experiences, tasks and responsibilities. Most supervisors will appreciate your drive and ambition.
Network. The importance of networking is something that comes up in almost every conversation about a career in PR. It really is who you know.
Find a mentor and mentor others. A mentor can have a big impact on a young professional’s career. Seeking
This is me with my friend and mentor, Christianne (right) and friend and former colleague, Jobeth (center)
out a senior practitioner for advice and guidance can teach you a lot about the industry and make you feel more confident about your future. Overall, it’s just reassuring to know that someone besides your parents cares about career and is rooting for you. The other half of this is giving back to your profession. Even if you only have a couple years of experience, it is never too early to start mentoring PR students and recent grads. You never know the impact you can make on someone’s career by sharing your knowledge.
Do you have any advice for new PR professionals? Please share in the comments!