PR Start by Nick Lucido

How to start in the public relations industry.

21 Ways to Get Hired, Get Ahead and Enjoy Lifelong Success

On Thursday, I attended the 5th Annual Career Summit held by MSU Career Services. The theme of the event was “The Big Picture” and I can’t think of a theme more relevant for those about to begin their career. I talked about having this strategic approach in a recent post, yet the event added a lot to my ideas about what the big picture of my own career is.

The keynote was delivered by Kevin Donlin, an MSU alum who runs The Simple Job Search. He gave us some great tips on finding that job while offering a unique perspective on such priciples as networking and success.

Here are his tips broken up into three groups.

7 ways to get hired faster:

  1. Start with clarity. Figure out what job you want, the skill sets necessary for that position and your top employers.
  2. Stop networking – start helping other people get what they want.
  3. Employers are like children – write what they want you to read. In your cover letter, you should be talking about how you will help your potential employer. Heather Huhman, who was kind enough to give me feedback on my resume and cover letter, has some great tips about this here.
  4. No Experience? No problem! Let other people sell you. Use LinkedIn to get recommendations, but don’t ignore the importance of having a recommendation in print, too.
  5. Combine tactics to product synergy.
  6. Create your own board of directors for your job search. Use mentors and professionals within your network to helped you in your job search.
  7. Start working before you get hired by doing research on the company and offer suggestions and solutions in your interview.

7 ways to get ahead:

  1. Control the first hour and the rest of the day is easy. Kevin recommended not to read the news because it’s bad and out of our control. I disagree with this, probably because I’m a news junkie, but if your specific career doesn’t require this, try it out.
  2. Do it now! Put your ideas into action and get the job done.
  3. Make yourself indispensable. You can accomplish this by doing what others can’t do, doing what others won’t do and by doing more than is expected of you.
  4. Practice kaizen by constantly improving yourself and you work, especially through professional development.
  5. When at work… work. Don’t get distracted by Facebook or the refresh button on your e-mail.
  6. Document your results. Set goals that are measurable and track them. Also, keep a portfolio of your professional work demonstrating versatility and quality.
  7. Learn how to think by writing down things. Instead of just thinking in your head, Kevin recommended you write your thoughts down.

7 ways to enjoy lifelong success:

  1. Find a hero (Kevin’s term for a mentor). Every master was first a student and many are willing to help out the younger generation.
  2. There’s a benefit in every adversity – you just have to find it. With so many people losing their jobs, it’s easy to feel down in the dumps. But by unpacking your experience, you just might be able to get something out of it.
  3. Capture ideas in a journal. Or a blog.
  4. Adopt funnel vision by doing the work in the interview and treating cover letters as sales letters.
  5. Leave your comfort zone. Kevin said that all growth happens beyond it and all successful careers demand it.
  6. Become a lifelong learner. Read, go to grad school.. the opportunities to learn are endless.
  7. You can be a success now. Choose a worthy goal and start making progress today.

All in all, it was a pretty interesting presentation. It’s also pretty relevant to a wide variety of careers.

So, did Kevin miss anything? There are probably many more ways, but I found this to be a great set of principles.

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Filed under: Professional Development, , , , , , , , , ,

Being a Career Strategist

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve heard a trend from multiple recruiters and professionals concerning what they look for in a prospective employee. More than just having internships, demonstrating the right skill sets and showing a professional attitude, it’s important to remember the difference between strategy and tactics. In your own career, you can show employers that you are a strategist, which is more important than just contributing to the tactics.

So, what’s the difference between a career strategist and a career tactician? Here’s what a career tactician does in college and in their early career:

  • Makes a list of internships to complete
  • Plans their class schedule to fulfill all requirements
  • Has a portfolio full showing different things they can do
  • Goes on a study abroad to have international experience

Here’s what a career strategist would do in the same situations:

  • Keeps internship and career options open, but keeps in mind how it will help future roles
  • Takes classes that supplement their career interests, not just to get the credits done
  • The portfolio shows they were part of a campaign and contributed to the success of it
  • Studies abroad and is able to “unpack” and apply their international experiences

There are plenty more, but what it comes down to is being able to see the big picture of what you’re doing and why. If you are a strategist, you can answer why, when, what’s next, was it successful and what would you have done differently. It’s also important to remember that you can be a leader no matter what company or organization you are involved in.

plan1

I think it’s a good idea to take a top down approach to college vs. a bottom up approach. That is, keep in mind what you want to do upon graduation and then find the best things to fill in the gap of that goal and where you are now. If you want to go into PR, a good idea would be to have different internships that emphasize different things.

If you don’t know what you want to do when you graduate, you can still be a strategist. Your goal of what you want to do upon graduation will still require general skill sets that you can enhance with collegiate experiences. Personally, this is where I’m at. I know I want to do PR when I graduate, but where I want to work and with what kind of company… I’m not set in stone. I still know what I need to work on and improve, so I am still able to be strategic.

After you have created your top down plan, it’s a good idea to micromanage each step. When you earn those internships and leadership positions, don’t come in with a checklist of things you need to have. You should approach everything like a sponge – absorb as much information as possible and look at your projects from the big picture prospective. When you’re assigned to write a press release, you shouldn’t just do it. Ask why you’re writing the release and how it is important to the client. The Career Strategist blog has some great posts that talk more about preparing for a strategic career.

Seth Godin wrote a great post on the difference between strategy and tactics. He even says the right strategy can make any tactic work. So, when you’re planning your career, make sure that you know where you want to go and that you’re taking the right steps. Look at the big picture of what you want to accomplish in your early career that will propel you forward.

So, are you a strategist? Any tips or advice on how to become one?

Photo by soccergoalx on Flickr.

Filed under: Internships, Professional Development, Public Relations, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Breaking Down the Walls

For me, 2009 is going to be a year of breaking down the walls. I’m talking about changing the traditional college paradigm that has resulted from the increasingly competitive job market. 

break-down-the-wall

More then ever, students are pushing themselves through difficult curriculums, taking on leadership positions in student organizations and getting a job or two. The days of going through college and getting a sweet job are over. Hopefully there is no one out there that honestly believes that.

As a result, college is competitive and stressful. The college setting is meant to test and prepare us for “real world” situations, so the question then becomes is the real world as competitive and stressful? 

As students, sometimes we get caught up amidst the competitive atmosphere. We’re all competing for the top internships, the best grades and ultimately the best jobs. Too often we forget about our peers and their own professional pursuits. I was always taught to treat others the way I want to be treated. Just like in social media, cultivating relationships with your colleagues takes time and work, but it pays off in the end.

Here are my goals (note: not resolutions) for breaking down the walls this year:

  • Build my network and share it. I love networking and meeting new people. My friend puts it best: “I can’t keep my PR legs closed.” This year, I want to connect the good people in my network with the other good people in my network.
  • Improve this blog so that it does help people. I like to share what I learn, who I meet and new trends with you guys because I learn from you. I hope to continue to product worthwhile content and please let me know if I start going senile.
  • Look beyond the short term and always look for the long term. Questioning old practices and replacing them with new, more effective practices is what I’m going for. 
  • Connect Michigan PRSSA students with each other. I’ve been in contact with some really great people at other Michigan PRSSA Chapters and we all share in similar pre-professional pursuits, so why not help each other out? I had dinner with Jared Bryan from Wayne State University and Stephanie Scheer from Eastern Michigan University and I’m looking forward to working with them over the next couple of months.

This past year, a friend and mentor of mine, Jennie Ecclestone, who happened to be the MSU PRSSA Chapter President at the time, nominated me for a Central Michigan PRSA award. Typically, the award goes to a senior who has dedicated him or herself to their PRSSA Chapter and made a dramatic impact. Even though I and a couple other people nominated Jennie, her recommendation that she probably put a lot of time and effort into got me the award. This completely selfless action taught me more about leadership then any conference or book. Jennie was breaking down the walls and she will always have a friend and colleague with me. 

When it comes down to it, people make the difference in my life. I’m lucky to be surrounded by such dynamic, dedicated and funny people. They keep me sane and drive me nuts. But because they have help me so much in my career, I would do anything for them. Public relations and other industries are often based on who you know, not what you know. I hope I will be able to repay the favor to Jennie somehow.

This year, I challenge you to break down the walls in your own pre-professional career. Ask yourself, “why the hell not?” Value honesty and listen to your peers. And most importantly, don’t forget your friends and colleagues. 

Photo by rulosblack on Flickr. 

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Goals in the Workplace

This post is coming to you from a guy with experience in sales, but what I learned in that position can be applied to every industry.

Goals are an important part of any job. Setting goals, working to achieve them and eventually accomplishment is a three-part cycle that will help guide you to success. Here are some tips on how to set goals, especially as an intern, and how to keep improving.

Make goals

Think it sounds simple? It’s harder than you think. Coming into an internship, you’re there for a limited amount of time to learn. Make sure they are measurable and specific. Sounds like a PR campaign, doesn’t it?

Some good goals:

  • I want to improve by AP fluency through such writing projects as press releases, media advisories and company newsletters.
  • I would like to work on at least one writing project a week.
  • I would like to experience all practice areas of the company in my time with the company.
  • I would like to help plan _____ event and assist from start to finish.

The point of these goals is to show that you want to learn and help. This sets you apart from the rest of the crowd and shows that you’re serious. Once you can build a positive reputation, you’ll be able to take on more and more.

success

Let your supervisor and other coworkers know about your goals

Now that you made your goals, make sure your team knows about them. Set some time aside in the beginning of your internship (probably in the first week) to meet with your supervisor and talk about the things that you would like to accomplish during your time with the company. Pay attention as to how the different titles of the company operate and be careful not to overshoot. Listen and learn before you take on too much responsibility.

It’s also a good idea to talk about what kinds of experiences you’ve had in the past. You can talk about what you’re good at and what you would like to improve on. Also, be careful not to turn down functions of an intern. Saying you don’t want to get coffee, file or answer the phones can put you far behind. Have an open mind, especially in the beginning, to make a solid first impression.

Constantly evaluate your progress

There are a couple of different ways to keep track of what you’re doing. I have seen some career blogs in which the authors talk about what they are working on and what they have learned. Some meet weekly with their supervisor to check up, get projects and see what they can improve on. Whatever you do, try to keep track of what you work on. This will help you to show future employers what you work on and it will allow you to keep track of your own progress. No matter what you do, be careful as to not get too specific on what you’re working on. You never know who is reading your work.

At my internship this summer, I created a “weekly evaluation” of sorts that I could fill out and send to the team. Here’s how I kept track over the summer. I took off the client names, but the information is all still there. In case you can’t tell, I do like to have a good time so I had some fun with it. But it was my way of showing the rest of the staff what I was working on and what I would like to work on. After all, you’re at an internship to learn and contribute!

What did you learn?

You should have learned something. Look over your goals and see if you accomplished them. If you did, great! If you didn’t, see what you could have done and try it again at the next job. Maybe your goal is too big or too general; if that’s the case, make a stepping stone goal to get you to the promised land.

Also, when you are done with your job or internship, sit down and add your best work to your portfolio and update your resume. I made the mistake of putting my portfolio together after two internships and a job with relevant work, so needless to say it took me a long time. It’s so much easier to have everything ready to pass on to future employers. When you scramble to put everything together, chances are there will be a mistake.

Just like in public relations, you don’t want to do something just to say you did it. You need quantitative and qualitative data to show others what you worked on. It might help you move on up, but it will also help you to learn and grow as a young professional.

How else do you keep track of what you worked on or accomplished at an internship? How did you employers feel about it?

Photo by aloshbennett on Flickr.

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