By Megan Yoder
College—the days of sleeping-in, pulling “all-nighters” for exams, and cheering on your school teams. While the college years can be some of the best years of your life, they also are the most vital. Before you know it, graduation is around the corner and your career is your main focus. After completing a public relations internship with the Iowa City Community School District, I found that PR is a fast-paced industry with an ever-changing landscape. If you are choosing to do it, here are four steps that you can take to become a PR professional while in college.
Build a Brand
Use your insights or classroom experience in PR to build a brand. Branding helps you to stand out from the competition. Brand yourself so that employers can understand who you are and what type of public relations work you want to pursue. In branding yourself, consistency is key. Make sure that your LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and blog profile photos are all the same. This way, it is easier for an employer to recognize and remember you when it comes to hiring for a position.
Another way to build your brand is to create a professional website or blog. Your page should include your writing samples or other class projects, your resume, and contact information. This helps employers to have direct access to your work and will show them that you want to be taken seriously in the pursuit of this industry
Dress Professionally, Even to Class
While college students love sweatpants, and they are comfortable, they don’t look professional. Unless you are sleeping, lounging around your apartment or working-out at the gym, sweatpants should be tucked away in your closet.
Choose items such as a blazer and skinny jeans (for women) and a nice button down shirt and khakis (for men).
I know this may sound a bit extreme, but it’s important. Research by Forbes.com, states that people make a first impression within seven seconds! Knowing this, it is vital to dress professionally as you never know what connections you might make with professors, students or university staff. Connections are vital and looking your best will help you to be taken seriously in your pursuit of a job in any industry.
Use Social Media
If you don’t have a Twitter or LinkedIn account, get one ASAP. These social networks may seem like another thing to add to the list along with Facebook, but they can be vital in staying up-to-date on the PR industry and creating professional connections. Additionally, make sure that you keep these accounts set to “open” instead of “private,” as it can show employers that you know how to use these tools and are up-to-date on topics in your industry.
Have a Professional Email
This may seem like a no brainer, but you would be surprised at how many students’ email addresses are unprofessional. While firstname.lastname@example.org, was a great account for you back in the junior high days, as a young college professional it’s unacceptable. Whether you use your university email address or one of your own, make sure it clearly states some version of your first and last name (email@example.com, is a great example). Your email address not only makes an impression, but also shows potential PR employers that you want to be taken seriously in the industry. For more email tips, check out the Burns & McDonnell Careers Blog.
For additional resources, check out the article in PR Daily here.
Follow Megan Yoder on Twitter @MeganKYoder