In October our Student & Academic Liaison Jenna Waite had the pleasure of hosting and moderating a panel event for more than 70 PR and communication students, from universities across Victoria. Joining her on the panel were Chris Burns, Fiona McGregor and Alex Lefley, who told students what to expect in their first few years in the communication industry.
Here Jenna shares her ten key take aways from the evening – stories, tips and advice we can all relate to.
1. University will not prepare you for work life
Full time work will be a shock to your system. While universities will arm you with skills and knowledge, you will most likely have little idea of what you’re doing when working on your first few projects. Understand that the first few months will be particularly challenging, and that is completely normal. Do your best.
2. Learn how to be an active listener
You might think you have the answers and know the best way to do things, but you probably don’t. In the first two years of work, you’ll most likely be doing what other people tell you do to. This is the time to listen. Process. Ask intelligent questions.
You’re not going to be running the company in the first few years (or even first few decades) so learn and absorb from those around you. It’s important to get your foundation skills right first.
3. Emotional intelligence will take you further than technical abilities alone
Most aspects of your role you will learn on the job, however maturity, empathy and interpersonal skills will take you places. The people that have thrived in their roles, and become successful in ‘climbing the ladder’ have honed their emotional intelligence (EI). Working in retail, spending time aboard, learning about other cultures, even doing a sociology unit will help you to develop EI. As communicators, you will need to know how to connect and converse with a broad range of individuals.
4. Only compete with yourself, don’t focus on others
Focus on doing YOUR job to the best of your ability. There will be times when your colleagues will get promoted, and you may not. There will be times that you will be promoted, while others may not. Stay focused on your role, and giving it 100%- that is what’s important. Competition can be a healthy motivator, but people can become unstuck when they start competing with their colleagues and friends in similar roles.
5. There will be sacrifices
There is no such thing as a 9-5 job in communications. There will most likely be long hours and weekend work. You will need to make plenty of sacrifices; most people have missed functions and time socialising with friends. However, all your sacrifices will be worth it if you are passionate about what you do.
6. Clean up your social media
If you don’t want your boss or your clients to see it – get rid of it. You will not get a job (or hold one down for long) if you’re constantly posting drunken photos on Facebook and poorly worded tweets. Clean it up or lock it down.
PROOF READ EVERYTHING YOU POST. You represent your company, their brand and your clients’ brands. Tip: if you are not on professional sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter – you won’t exist to recruiters.
7. Be confident, but have thick skin
Some people wish they shared their ideas and spoke up more. While you should be always encouraged to give any task a crack, in doing so you will need to learn how to take criticism, and not take it personally. It is not an attack on you. If you don’t have thick skin, learn to grow some.
8. Choose roles on passion, not money
You are going to be working hard, so make your career choices based on passion and interest – not on which one is paying the best. It is very likely that you will not be payed well in your first five years. Those who left roles purely for more money didn’t last too long in their roles, or didn’t’ thrive where they were.
9. Take your time, and slow down
It is not a race to the career finish line, nor is it a box ticking exercise. Use your career to not only grow your intelligence, but also further develop as a human being. Enjoy the ride. Take the good with the bad. Celebrate all your wins, and learn and grow from your mistakes. There will be plenty of both.
10. Events like these are valuable no matter where you are in your career
Get out there. Meet people. Share knowledge. Remember to give back. Victoria has an amazing network of passionate communicators – get among it.