Last month, I participated in a panel discussion of fellow UW-Oshkosh journalism alumni to provide students with advice on entering the “real world.” And while their questions were particularly helpful for soon-to-be grads, much of the advice also was beneficial for entry-level professionals.
Here are the top 10 pieces of advice from our panel:
- Keep building your skills. Gain experience in writing, design, web, social media, etc. Today, employers are really looking for a jack (or jill)-of-all-trades.
- Keep your résumé to one page. Take the short and sweet approach. Whether you’re fresh out of college or looking for your second adventure, be objective – only include experience that really demonstrates what you can do on the job.
- Illustrate your abilities in cover letters. Match your expertise to a company’s specific needs. If they’re looking for someone with web design experience, describe a successful project and add metrics of success.
- Create a portfolio and make it available online. While hard copies are nice, an online portfolio showcases your work in a format that’s easy to revisit, which is especially important with a limited amount of time during interviews.
- Secure internship experience. Whether you’re still in school or recently graduated, an internship can provide valuable work experience that allows you to expand your capabilities – or get your foot in the door at a specific company.
- Network. A lot. Stay in touch with fellow students, alumni and professors to remain in consideration for job openings. Attend professional development events or alumni networking opportunities, and use social media to maintain connections.
- Express your self-confidence. Hiring managers want to know that you won’t be afraid to offer ideas or contribute to team projects. Be bold and outgoing, and show your passion for the job.
- Maintain professionalism. Even though you may think you know what’s acceptable in a company’s culture, err on the side of caution and present yourself professionally. You’ll earn respect as you get to know the company’s personality better.
- Take initiative. Ask questions. If your supervisor gives you a challenging project, don’t be afraid to ask questions and take ownership. Be proactive and anticipate clients’ or supervisors’ needs.
- Drive your own growth. Don’t be afraid to ask for more responsibility. Ultimately, you’re the one in charge of your career, and if you don’t speak up, you may not get to where you want to go. In addition, don't be afraid to move on if you feel you can no longer grow professionally.
Want more? Check out this PR Daily article for additional insights: 5 tips for landing your first PR job after college. I’d also encourage readers to follow the #HAPPO and #PRStudChat conversations on Twitter, which offer regular advice, tips and suggestions for students and entry-level professionals.
If you’re in a hiring position, do you have other suggestions for young professionals, and if you’re a young pro, are there other questions you’d like us to address?