Last night I had the pleasure of speaking to OU’s chapter of PRSSA. My friend Dan Klein and I spoke with attendees as part of a “non-PR” panel. I’m not going to lie, it’s still a little weird to be considered someone who isn’t in PR, because I’ll always consider myself a PR junkie and Scripps kid, but it was great sharing my experiences and advice regardless.
The members last night asked some great questions, and since I’ve had some time to mull over some of the things I was asked, I thought I would share some tips for being successful in internships and jobs, and how to stand out:
1. Know how to write. As Scripps kids, we’re used to everyone knowing how to write, and do it well, but you’d be surprised how many people out there don’t have those skills. Knowing how to get your point across effectively and concisely sets you apart from a lot of other candidates.
2. Know how to write professional emails. As I mentioned last night, you’d be surprised how many people don’t know how to do this. Treat email correspondence like a business letter, as it’s better to be too formal than too casual (just like it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed). Make sure you utilize the subject line to inform the person you’re emailing what the content regards. Finally, don’t be a pest with emails. If someone doesn’t respond within a few days, send a follow-up email that explains why you’re following up, or simply pick up the phone and call them.
3. That being said, don’t be afraid of phone calls. In our social media-dominated generation, oftentimes phone calls as a means of communication fall by the wayside. Knowing how to make a professional phone call is still important! If you have a quick question for someone, or even one that requires a lengthier or complicated answer, don’t be afraid to use the telephone: people will be pleasantly surprised.
4. Say yes! Another one I mentioned last night: being a ‘Yes Person’ is important, especially when you’re new in a job or internship. What I mean is don’t be afraid to tackle a task in an area that you don’t have a lot of experience. Be up front about your lack of experience, but still offer to learn and contribute. This will definitely make you stand out as an employee, and will allow you to get as much out of your internship or job experience as you possible can. Remember, the employer is there to help you learn as much as you’re there to help them.
5. Know how to research thoroughly and effectively. This way, when you take on those new tasks or interview for a new job, even if you don’t know everything there is to know about the organization or task, you know how to get that information and can become an expert.
6. Stay involved.Even if you end up having to take a job that may not involve PR (or whatever your passion is) you can stay up on that skill set by volunteering your time and skills outside or inside wherever it is you end up. Making those skills known is the first step, so don’t be afraid to speak up about where your strengths lie.
7. Dress for the job you want. In my GA position, we aren’t required to dress up, but I still like to look nice. You never know who you’re going to meet in a day, so I always try to look nice. I NEVER wear sweatpants to work. While professional environments have a dress code that you’ll learn quickly, just remember that as I mentioned above, it’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed, so try to look your best every day. Taking the time to do this will put you a step above the rest. You may not think people notice, but they do.
8. Remember, people don’t forget when you do good work for them. So work hard at whatever it is you do, even if you’re not completely in love with everything you’re asked to do. Remember, this is the real world and it’s unlikely that you’ll love every aspect of your job 100 percent of the time. That’s life! But if you make the most of it by doing your best work, you will be remembered.
Hope this is helpful to those looking for jobs or internships and who want to make a lasting impression. Thanks again to Scripps PRSSA for having me last night!