A Word from the Wise… Tegan Zimmerman

First off, I hope you are all doing well! I have been attending PRSA Young Professional events here in Chicago and I miss all of you in PRSSA!

What I’ve Learned Along the Way: Do’s and Dont’s

The road to success in any career is always difficult and filled with twists and turns. Here is what I’ve learned along the way.

1. Do love PRSSA
PRSSA is the window to the public relations world. Especially at Iowa where a public relations degree isn’t possible, PRSSA can help you learn more about the field and achieve the skills necessary to succeed. Run for exec, attend the National and Regional conference, participate in the various committees and attend the socials. Embrace PRSSA, the University of Iowa chapter is full of amazing leadership and I could not be where I am today without the lesson learned at meetings in AJB!

2. Do be ready to bring it
It is going to be hard so be ready to work hard. The public relations industry is competitive and times are tough.  If you want to succeed you have to be willing to work for it. You will probably find yourself doing something outside of your comfort zone. It may be networking at the National Conference or speaking in front of a class. Mine was moving to New York City to intern at a public relations agency. It was scary at first but I took the leap and forced myself out of my comfort zone. I can honestly say it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Don’t be afraid to try something new, strike up a conversation with a stranger and put yourself out of your comfort zone. These small tests will help you learn more about yourself and foster a spirit of success.

3. Don’t limit your reading to Perezhilton.com
Stay up to date on news and happenings. As a public relations professional, it is important to know what is going on around the country and the world. Invest in knowledge. Read.

4. Do dive headfirst and immerse yourself in social media
Twitter is a great tool for young professionals. Embrace tweeting! Conversations and connections made on Twitter are worthwhile. I have learned so much about the field through interacting on Twitter.  Create an online portfolio and start your own blog. Weebly is a great service for hosting web sites. Networking is key. Make yourself stand out in the social media world. It is worth it.

5. Do learn everything you can about the field.
Subscribe to the following: Bulldog Reporter, PR Week, ADAge, and SmartBrief. A forever changing industry, you can never know too much.

6. Don’t limit your internships to summertime
Internships are not reserved for summer anymore.  Look for opportunities during the school year to enhance you skill set and your resume. Head to the Pomerantz Career Center and search Jobnet for opportunities on campus. You will need more than one internship so plan ahead and strive to hold multiple internships over the course of your college career.

7. Do start early and set goals.
When I was a junior, I asked the past PRSSA president, Jen Ferm, when I should start applying for jobs. Her advice stuck with me. Start early and give yourself time to pull your portfolio together. Seniors, Thanksgiving break is your cue. Get your resume looking beautiful and start applying for jobs during December. Plan to head to the Pomerantz Career Center by Thanksgiving break and have your resume reviewed. Meet with a Career Advisor. The Pomerantz Career Center is full of wonderful people who want to help you succeed. Call in and make an appointment, they can’t place you in a job but they can help you along the way. Set goals for yourself and don’t shy away from them. If you want to send out five resumes by December do it. If your goal is to run for PRSSA exec board, do it.

8. Do find a mentor
Everyone needs someone to look up to. Find that person who is willing to take you under his or her wing. I have had many throughout my time at Iowa and the relationships I have developed with my mentors have made a lasting impression on my growth and attitude as a young professional. My mentors have included past bosses, older PRSSA members and professionals I have met along the way.

9. Do enjoy college while it lasts
Trust me, you will miss Hawkeye game days. Cherish your time a the University of Iowa. It is truly an amazing place to learn and live.

10. Don’t give up
It is a tough time and the public relations field is extremely competitive.  I’ve had my share of setbacks but it is important to keep your goals in mind. Hard work always pay off in the end. If you find yourself feeling down, get inspired by this quote from the wonderful Don Draper (Mad Men) “I have a life. And it only goes in one direction. Forward.” Ask yourself what you can do to keep your career moving forward. Don’t let setbacks get you down and leave you at a standstill.

I hope you find these tips helpful, feel free to contact me at anytime at teganmariezimmerman@gmail.com. I would love to connect with all of you and provide all the help/advice I can.  Good luck with your job search, first semester, classes and your journey into the world of public relations! It truly is a great profession filled with great people.

Written by Tegan Zimmerman

Former Chapter President

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