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

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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.

Celebrating Diversity Should Not End in August

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Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on the PRSA Pittsburgh blog. While PRSA celebrated Diversity month in August, this blog is a great reminder how our profession can and should be inclusive year-round. 

In recent months, headlines of violent attacks, mass shootings and tragic moments have occupied the majority of our Facebook and Twitter feeds, causing many of us to question if society is progressing or regressing in its efforts to accept others. 

In a world often overwhelmed with hate and judgment, we as public relations professionals need to serve as thought leaders and celebrate diversity in the industry as well as encourage others to follow suit.

Luckily, PRSA dedicates the month of August to bring attention to diversity in public relations and facilitate inspiring conversations that hope to bridge any gap between diversity and the workplace.

Diversity Month, led by the PRSA National Diversity & Inclusion Committee, seeks to inform and educate the public relations profession about ongoing issues and concerns regarding diversity in public relations. According to PRSA, the committee’s mission is to make the Society more inclusive and welcoming by:

  • Reaching out to industry professionals of diverse racial backgrounds, ethnicities and sexual orientations,
  • Helping diversify the industry by supporting minority candidates who aspire a career in public relations by offering support in the development of industry knowledge, relevant skills and a network of professional contacts,
  • Bringing multicultural understanding and expertise to public relations professionals in order to address the diverse audiences in the nation.

With an array of interactive events, social programs and blog posts for members to explore and join the conversation, PRSA does a commendable job in raising awareness and celebrating the diverse backgrounds in the industry.

But acknowledging and discussing diversity should not end at the conclusion of August. Many companies have taken advantage of the resources PRSA has offered this month by holding diversity-focused meetings, participating in Twitter chats and collaborating with other organizations; however, as public relations professionals, we need to continue the conversation.

If your company is lacking in diverse efforts, get approval from your company’s leadership and begin by defining what diversity means to them. Diversity has a different meaning to everyone, but at its core means recognizing and accepting all individuals. Once you have established a definition, develop a strong committee to start conversations and initiatives.

If your workplace is already committed to creating a diverse environment, make sure all employees are aware of this inclusive mindset. The only way employees will truly know if their company accepts diversity is by seeing it firsthand, so by including your company’s diversity initiatives into leadership trainings and professional development workshops, your company will operate in a more cohesive manner.

Accepting diversity makes us smarter, more well-rounded as well as allows us to become more innovative and creative. This way of thinking and living should carry with us for more than one month out of the year. Keep the conversation of diversity and inclusion going long after August ends, and continue to maintain a work environment that is filled with acceptance.

jordan-mitrikJordan Mitrik is an account executive at Jampole Communications and serves as blog coordinator for PRSA Pittsburgh. He is a recent Waynesburg University graduate where he studied public relations and marketing. Connect with Jordan: Twitter | LinkedIn | Website 

Mastering the Art of Networking

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Networking- it’s a very intimidating word, especially for those who cringe at the idea of meeting complete strangers at a happy hour or local event.  Though it may come off as intimidating, the truth is that mastering the art of networking is a crucial step to land your first job.  The expression “it’s who you know” isn’t a myth and it certainly isn’t an expression that should be underestimated.  As someone who began their first post-graduation job in August, I can vouch for the importance of networking.  I can also provide some tips on how networking and landing your first job go hand-in-hand.

1. Utilize Your Resources

When looking for a first job, it can be tempting to start the search with platforms like LinkedIn, and while you may find some great positions listed, it’s not where I would begin. Very often when looking for your first job, it’s the people already in your circle that’ll help find the position you want, and ultimately, get you that position.  Whether it’s a professor, classmate, or family friend, chances are that you have a connection in the field that you are applying.  Once you establish that connection, don’t be afraid to reach out.  It may be an unspoken truth, but people in the communications field (and in general) like to talk about themselves and their professional experiences.  If you reach out with a positive attitude and genuine curiosity about the work they do, you’re golden.

2. Put Yourself Out There

Grounding yourself in the professional world requires you to get out there- literally. If you have colleagues or friends going to a networking happy hour or sporting event, make sure to get that plus-one invite.  Being open to meeting new people and stepping out of your comfort zone is the first step in securing that first job.  Even more important, it gives you the opportunity to be asked the first impression question: Who are you?  This is where your perfected 30 second elevator pitch comes in handy.  No matter who is asking, consider them a possible professional connection and sell yourself.  Make sure your presentation doesn’t sound staged or rehearsed, as people respond better to conversation that sounds genuine and honest.

While these two pieces of advice aren’t the only ones to consider when looking for your first job, they encompass the big ideas.  Everyone has been in your shoes before: colleagues, your boss- and everyone gets how difficult it is to assimilate into the real world.  The most important thing to remember is that the people around you are the ones that matter.  They are in your circle and consider themselves a connection for a reason- use that.  Taking advantage of networking opportunities will pay off in getting you that first job and it will pay off in the career path you choose.  Understanding how to talk to people, especially those who you want something from, is an invaluable skill.  So next time you are stepping into a networking event, try to let go on the intimidation and nervousness, and remember that it’s just one piece in the puzzle to help you get your first job.

evan-martinezEvan Martinez is a Communications Associate at American Iron and Steel Institute, a DC- based trade association representing the North American steel industry on Capitol Hill.