Four Ways to Stand Out (In a Good Way) at Your First Job

stand-out

From navigating the lunch scene to navigating office politics, a first job can be tricky. You want to find just the right balance of doing your job well without seeming like a suck up. I’m no expert, but I do want to share a few tips I’ve found to be helpful as I navigate my first real job:

Have an opinion

This piece of wisdom floated my way from a mentor who’s worked in communications for over 30 years. Just because you’re the new guy or gal doesn’t mean you have to be quiet. There’s a time for speaking and a time for silence. While it’s extremely important to embody a sponge sometimes — taking in all the newness and expertise around you — recognize that you were hired for a reason. Your insights, thoughts and opinions are company assets, so don’t let them go to waste by being unspoken.

Get to know your coworkers as people

You’re likely spending 40 plus hours in the office each week, sitting next to the same people every day.  Take the time to find out what your coworkers’ lives are like when they’re off the clock. What do they love? What do they hate? What’s their favorite way to goof off or relax? By asking these questions and more, you’ll have a better understanding of who your colleagues are — not just as fellow workers, but as fellow humans. I think you’ll find that this has a catalyst effect when it comes to building trust and empathy. Plus, it’s never a bad idea to gain a little extra social capital by remembering someone’s birthday or wishing them well before they leave for vacation.

Keep a work/life balance

Plenty of people throughout your career will tell you to “say yes to everything.” In my opinion, it’s not the wisest way you can live and here’s why: If you keep saying yes to everything, you’re going to find it harder to flex your crucial muscle of discernment. Instead, you’ll find yourself automatically accepting job assignments and social invitations that are going to wear you out with no substantial gain. To function at your best, you have to create space to recharge and connect. Don’t believe me? Check out this handy PR Daily infographic that explains even more benefits of keeping your weekends free from work.

Do the right thing

At Lockheed Martin, “Do what’s right” is one of our three ethical mottos. (I’m fortunate that it’s also a life motto for me, too.) Lots of times it may be easier to purposefully overlook a small error or choose to end a task before going the extra mile. Hey, nobody’s even going to notice, right? Wrong. The trouble with that thinking is that it doesn’t matter if nobody notices. If you’re not doing the right thing and making choices out of integrity, then you’re not only cheating the company, but also yourself and your coworkers. Instead of “advancing the profession,” you are choosing to take the whole ship down with you.

What advice has been helpful to you at your first job? Or what advice do you wish you would have been given to you?

lauradaronatsy_headshotLaura Daronatsy is the Immediate Past President of PRSSA and currently works as a Communications LDP Associate at Lockheed Martin. She graduated from Biola University with a public relations major and biblical and theological studies minor. Connect with Laura on Twitter @lauradaronatsy.

#AskNewPros: How many New Pros are in my regional area?

This is part of our recurring #AskNewPros series. Do you have a burning question for PRSA New Pros? Ask us! Want to promote mentorship by answering questions asked by PRSSA members? Email Alyssa Stafford to contribute.  

The New Pros section has 1149 members all over the U.S. and we even have a member in Canada! Roll over your state in the map below to see how many New Pros are in your area. Want to reach out to someone directly? Check out the member directory on PRSA.org and choose New Professionals under the “Section” field.

PRSSA: How to Kick-Start a Relationship with Your PRSA Sponsor Chapter

Editor’s Note: This blog originally appeared on the PRSSA Progressions blog. Whether you’re a college student or a New Pro, it’s important to build strong chapter relationships between PRSA and PRSSA.

The dynamic nature of the public relations profession, coupled with the current market saturation of recent and soon-to-be graduates, requires that students go above and beyond to create meaningful connections and make themselves stand out. One of the most valuable benefits of PRSSA membership is the opportunity to befriend and learn from local PRSA professionals.

The relationship between PRSSA and PRSA Chapters is an important one. PRSA sponsor Chapters provide mentorship, programming and fundraising assistance, training and industry insights, and students preparing for their careers need talented and engaged professionals to emulate. However, the day-to-day rigors of life, school and work can make managing these relationships especially challenging. As a PRSSA Chapter member or leader, here are some things you can do to kick-start your Chapter’s relationship with PRSA:

Help them help you. PRSA members are working professionals and contribute to PRSSA during their limited free time. They’re happy and eager to help, but it’s up to you to reach out and establish the foundation of a relationship. Don’t be afraid of the follow-up and always come prepared to talk about what help your Chapter could benefit from. Many times, PRSA professionals won’t know how to help you create a better member experience until you tell them.

Establish a constant. Because of the high turnover rate in PRSSA leadership, it’s difficult for Chapters to maintain meaningful relationships with PRSA annually. If you really want to leave a mark on your Chapter, create or utilize assets that can stand the test of time. Here are a few examples:

  • Create a tradition that requires your PRSSA Chapter and PRSA sponsor Chapter to interact at least once each year. You can create an event that brings professionals and students together, and allows the professionals to share and mentor. You can draw attention to your Chapter and create networking opportunities by inviting professionals to an entertaining event on-campus: Think (fun)draising, food and professional development.
  • Build a constant into your bylaws. If you take your Chapter’s relationship with its PRSA sponsor Chapter seriously, you will make it part of one of your officers’ duties or create a committee. Someone who is not the Chapter president needs to be responsible for making sure members have access to PRSA members — it’s that essential.
  • Use your Faculty or Professional Adviser to facilitate introductions. These people are tasked with counseling Chapter leadership and guiding members. Your Faculty and Professional Advisers are required to be PRSA members, so they should have ready access to your sponsor Chapter.

Be resourceful. PRSSA National has a wealth of resources available to you, as both a member and a leader. If you’re a Chapter leader and struggling to contact PRSA, you can reach out to: the vice president of professional development, the National Faculty Adviser or any other person on the PRSSA National Committee. Furthermore, consider reading the PRSSA/PRSA Relationship Manual or contacting someone in your area through theChampions for PRSSA directory — an exclusive PRSSA member benefit.

PRSSA members are the future leaders of the communications industry, and will one day be the CCOs and CMOs of the world’s most influential companies. It’s imperative professionals do a better job engaging, and students do a better job asking for that engagement.

gary-bridgensGary Bridgens is a project assistant in APCO Worldwide’s New York office and the former PRSSA National vice president of Chapter development. You can contact him via email at garybridgens@gmail.com and add him on LinkedIn.

PRSA New Pros 2016 ICON Recap

Indianapolis skyline.

The Public Relations Society of America’s annual International Conference was held Oct. 23-25, 2016 in Indianapolis, Ind. We’re thrilled that a number of New Professionals section members were able to attend, and if you weren’t, read on for our recap.

New Pros Breakfast

The conference officially kicked off Sunday, with New Pros gathering for a networking breakfast.

Thanks to all who joined our New Pros session at PRSA International Conference – it was great to meet some fellow new pros and hear from seasoned professionals from the College of Fellows. We covered tips including first jobs and how to get involved in PRSA. If you’re interested in getting more involved and volunteering for the New Pros section, reach out to get involved! – Jessica Noonan, Chair, PRSA New Pros

Planning to join PRSA in the next couple months? Use the code AM16 to get a free New Pros Section membership when you apply to become a PRSA Associate Member.

“Where Are They Now?” – New Pros Panel at #PRSSANC

The New Pros section also hosted a panel for students at the PRSSA National Conference. Top tips included:

My advice to my 21-year-old self would be to relax. Don’t worry so much about graduation and focus on making the most of your last classes, internships and time as a student. – Nick Lucido, Immediate Past Chair, PRSA New Pros

You can rely on your network for support and guidance for the job search. But if you’ve gone dark on a person for a nine months and reappear asking for help it may not be as helpful as if you kept the relationship strong over time, so stay in touch with your connections. – Brian Price, Chair-Elect, PRSA New Pros

I was once told, “The only person holding you back is yourself.” Don’t be a roadblock to your own success. Believe you can achieve everything you dream of, be confident, and don’t let fear keep you from trying. – Heather Harder, Programming Chair, PRSA New Pros

Management Session Recap

On the final day of conference, the section led a session for New Pros (and their supervisors) on how to manage your first intern/new hire, client, project, and more. Top takeaways include:

To effectively manage up or be managed from below you must clarify and manage expectations and respect the boundaries and communication style preferences of the people that you work with on a daily basis. – Ruthann Campbell, Programming Chair, PRSA New Pros

When it comes to first-time managers, you have to be flexible. Remember that you are combining someone with little experience in management, with someone who has little experience in being managed. To effectively support your new hires, remember the 5’s: set expectations, structure, share (time, knowledge and networks), support and self-growth (because new pro managers learn too!). – Andrea Gils, PRSSA Liaison, PRSA New Pros

New Pros should begin managing their first client account or project once they have a successful track record of work, can handle an increased workload and have set expectations. It’s good exposure for them, especially with upper management and for mentorship opportunities. – Hanna Porterfield, Blog Chair, PRSA New Pros

Want to learn more on this topic? Join our next #NPPRSA Twitter chat on Tuesday, Nov. 15 at 9:00 p.m. EDT.

ICON Testimonials

Wondering if it’s worth going to PRSA ICON as a New Pro? Looking to convince your employer to help you attend next year? Simply want to learn more? We’d love to see you!

This was my first time experience with a PRSA conference. Attending would not have been possible without my involvement with PRSA New Pros as it was through volunteering for the national committee that I was presented with the opportunity to speak. It was invigorating to be able to meet new people and hear about the similar struggles and challenges being faced by professionals in all stages of their career and industries. I learned a lot about new tools and strategies to help me be more effective in my role at a non-profit. If you have the opportunity to get involved and participate at any level of PRSA, I highly recommend that you do so and in the words of a College of Fellow representative, don’t’ just join, join in! – Ruthann

#PRSAICON has been THE highlight of my year. I can’t believe it was my first conference and I was able to present too – all thanks to PRSA New Pros! My favorite part of this year’s conference was being able to talk to a new pro after our session. She was so engaged not just during our presentation but afterward as well. She was facing challenges that we’ve all have faced as new pros and it was very rewarding to be able to listen to her and help her tackle her challenges. I think there’s a perception that PRSA New Pros is for those who just graduated from college or PRSSA – and it is – but it’s also for those who are seasoned pros and may be new to public relations. Our session showed me that there are a variety of New Pros, who are all equally interested in our section and what it has to offer. – Andrea

Check out more recaps from general sessions on PRSA’s website. Contact any of our section committee members to learn more and see you at PRSA ICON in Boston, Oct. 8-10, 2017.