Beginning a career in public relations can be quite a daunting prospect. There is no point-by-point roadmap to direct you on the way to professional success, and you will encounter plenty of obstacles along the way. I found myself in the hectic world of the “entry-level” after graduating college in May 2013; and now as I prepare for the next step in my career, I can think of a few pieces of advice that I have picked up along the way:
1) Be open to whatever comes your way, and be ready for some hard work.
When I graduated with a BA in history and started exploring public relations as a potential career path I was totally overwhelmed. I had done one PR internship in college, but I quickly found out, that I was not ready to become a high-powered account executive on day one. The difficult reality for me was that I needed to get more experience, and that meant internships, and unpaid internships at that.
I realized I knew a lot of people in health care, and I managed to find an internship with my alma mater’s children’s hospital. To support myself financially, I worked nights as a technician in the hospital’s pharmacy while I interned during the day. Those long days and nights at the hospital were not exactly what I would call fun, but I managed to learn a ton from my bosses, who held me to a very high standard and dramatically improved my writing.
2) Join your professional community.
One of the best things my boss at the children’s hospital did for me was encouraged me to join PRSA and be active in the profession. At a PRSA sponsored lunch, I sat at the same table as the social media department one of my town’s leading PR agencies, and after an interesting conversation about social media I asked for an informational interview. That interview eventually led to another internship, this time focused on social media. I was given an entire account to manage, and I discovered a real passion for the work. By the time my agency internship had finished I was able to once again turn to my local chapter of the PRSA to find my current internship with Carestream Health, which will allow me to keeping building my skills while I study for my MBA.
3) Use This Time to Find Your Passion.
Finding your passion may sound like corny advice, but it really is what the early stages of your career are for. Take on any challenge or opportunity you can find. Public Relations is an unbelievably diverse profession and you will find plenty of things you love to do, and plenty of things you don’t. In my case I found a real passion for all things social media, and I found some great mentors who fostered that passion. You may very well have some false starts, some things you just can’t get excited about, but don’t let those experiences derail your future career.
If you are really serious about a career in public relations, if you are willing to put in the hard work up front, and you can find the right team of people to support you then you have a great shot at becoming a real success in one of the most dynamic and engaging career fields there is. Public Relations is all about telling a story, so get out there and share yours with the world.
Sean Delehanty is currently an MBA candidate at the Simon School of Business, University of Rochester, Class of 2016; as well as a digital marketing intern with Carestream Health. He graduated from the University of Rochester in 2013, and has worked as a public relations intern at the Golisano Children’s Hospital and Dixon Schwabl Advertising. Sean is a Rochester, NY native and a proud member of the Rochester chapter of the PRSA.