The transition from college to professional life can be daunting for college graduates entering the workforce. Job competition, finding a comfort zone in the workplace and surviving financially are just a few reasons graduates carry this stress. A 2018 survey conducted by the The Harris Poll, on the APA’s behalf, reported that Millennials, Generation X and Z were more stressed than older generations—and for good reason. As far as Gen X and Z, you’re not expected to be an expert yet. But as a new PR professional you are still held to certain standards – strong written and verbal communication skills, knowledge of AP style and proficiency in certain software. Even though some Millennials have been in the workforce for almost a decade, some are just now entering it and struggle with the same stress of acclimating to this new lifestyle.
Whatever generation you fall under, here are a few tips to prepare you for this new adjustment:
Establish a Creative Routine
Did you know that creativity is a habit? Cultivating creativity can actually help you become more productive, according to this study. Public relations is a creative industry, so if you’ve made it to graduation, chances are you fill the bill. College can bring out many sides of creativity, but often it’s because of required assignments, so we’re not inclined to sustain it.
Consider keeping writing supplies handy to jot down thoughts. If you have a creative mind, these ideas will probably come easily, but just as easy as they come, they disappear. Whether it’s a notebook or a recorder, keep something nearby to help bring these thoughts to fruition and keep them recorded for the future.
Additionally, surround yourself with creative people. One creative mind is good, but two are even better. Collaboration enables you to watch and learn from others’ thought processes, then use that knowledge to enhance your own way of thinking.
Alter Academic Writing Habits
Writing in academic classes has a certain style – first you learn the thesis sentence and later the five-paragraph essay, until you progress to the dreaded 10-page college papers. While these are valuable tools to grow your writing skills, writing in public relations often requires a new approach, one that requires and encourages more creativity. As a newcomer, I’ve found that it’s been challenging to change my writing style from academic to more conversational so quickly.
It’s easy to write monotone copy or forget to engage the reader. Knowing the audience is key to writing in PR, and academic writing tends to be strictly informative. You’re not writing for your psychology professor, so don’t assume the reader knows everything and pollute the copy with industry jargon. Be conversational instead of wordy and overly informative – remember, your goal is to build relationships and compel someone to take action.
Additionally, college assignments usually require a significant word count, causing most of us to use the maximum amount of words for a simple idea. Since PR professionals are limited to smaller word counts, this nature of writing means every word must count. When writing, one should be straight and to the point – so you can fit as much content as possible within your word count. Embedded links can also be useful to give the reader background information and the opportunity to learn more.
Relax, You’re New at This
As the PR industry welcomes its influx of newcomers in 2019, it’s important to acknowledge that expectations are high, but your team understands that you’re new, and they’re willing and eager to help. Don’t expect your employer to throw you to the wolves – you will likely begin with assignments you’re comfortable with and ease your way into more challenging tasks. They’ve been there before, so don’t overthink it.
One thing I’ve learned is that communication in any workplace is vital. Don’t be afraid to communicate your needs to your colleagues. Getting acclimated in the workplace isn’t always easy, so if you feel overwhelmed, Let someone know so they can help you.
Moving from college life to the professional world might be scary, but it’s something we all have to do. Follow these simple tips to help you transition into this new chapter of your life. If you’re reading this and you still have a year or two left in college, consider picking up an internship to establish some real-world basics, and set yourself apart in the hiring process. Visit the Bradford Group’s internships page to learn more.