From Superleader to Fly-on-the-Wall: Finding Time for Post-Grad ‘Extracurriculars’

Many ambitious new professionals graduate from college holding past leadership positions through on- and off-campus organizations. They’ve strived to be involved for personal and professional development. Gaining that experience is what sets them apart when finding a job.

But once you’re hired, how and what you stay involved with is a problem many new professionals struggle with. Staying involved and joining professional organizations doesn’t need to be difficult though, and can enhance your career for years to come.

Time is a huge issue holding people back from getting involved with the equivalent of “extracurriculars” after college.

Networking for New ProsNew pros regularly face long hours while trying to balance a social and healthy lifestyle (even more difficult if moving to a new city was involved). The truth is that membership will be what you make of it. Check out the organization you want to join – does it meet bi-weekly, monthly, quarterly — and in person or virtually?

In addition, evaluate how often you’ll want to volunteer: small commitments from a one-time blog post or working check-in at an event are a great way to ease your way into joining a new organization, without the potential stress of undertaking a large event.

Money is another issue that holds people back from staying involved. Many organizations require dues to cover the cost of membership and events, but there are ways to make it affordable. Depending on the organization, there are likely discounts offered for new professionals. In addition, many companies will pay for a portion of professional organization dues, knowing that it will contribute to shaping better employees.

Either way, if organization membership is important to excelling in your career (I’m looking at you, PR pros), it’s worth thinking about setting aside some money for dues as you save for other expenses.

The simple trait of timidness is also enough to slow new professionals from getting involved in groups out of school. From once knowing everyone through four-year involvement in organizations such as PRSSA, it can be daunting to even outgoing individuals to attend a new meeting or networking event.

A text from your roommate to meet for drinks or having just landed a new gig may seem like easy excuses to blow off a first meeting at the organization you looked into, but after going once you could meet a mentor, future colleague or new friend. Getting involved in a professional organization is also a great way to meet industry peers that you can bounce ideas off of and hangout with at conferences. Join a new organization with the goal of listening, before jumping to be the leader.

Wondering what organizations are best to join early in your career? I’d be amiss to not mention joining the New Professionals Section of PRSA. Staying connected to your alma mater by leading an alumni club is also a great way to network and joining a casual-level social sports league can combat work burnout. What do you do to grow your career, develop leadership skills and meet new professionals? I’d love to hear from you.

Hanna-PorterfieldHanna Porterfield is the Newsletter Co-Chair of PRSA’s New Professionals section and an Assistant Account Executive at Development Counsellors International. She graduated from Michigan State University in 2014 and is actively involved in the alumni club’s New York chapter. Connect with Hanna on LinkedIn and Twitter (@citygirlhanna).

Conquering the Awkward Stage at Work: A Young Pro’s Guide

Being a young professional is hard sometimes. Between work/life balance and climbing the career ladder, it’s a challenge to navigate this stage of life.

Conquering the Awkward Stage at Work: A Young Pro’s GuideAs a young PR professional, hard work alone is not enough to get you noticed. You must learn to build and leverage relationships, develop leadership skills, and stand out amongst your peers to achieve success in the awkward stage between an entry level position and a managerial role.

Here are a few ways to navigate your career when you’re in the stage between recent graduate and mid-level employee, so you don’t feel like you are in career purgatory:

Raise Your Hand

Build your reputation at work by volunteering for side projects or taking on extra responsibility. You want to show your team and bosses that you are willing to take initiative to help the team stay on track, are reliable and engaged in the company, and committed to the growth of your career.

When working on projects out of your day to day task, you are able to network with colleagues in different departments and learn skills that will benefit you in the long run. Your superiors will take note and soon enough you’ll get the promotion you’re dreaming of.

Attend Conferences

The learning doesn’t stop after college. In addition to reading the news and case studies, attend conferences and webinars. There is a wealth of information out there to help you grow as an employee and it’s even better when you can learn from industry professionals.

Conferences and webinars give you the ability to learn about new industry trends, network with professionals of all levels, and hopefully encourage a new way of thinking about your career. As markets evolve, you have to make sure you stay sharp and ahead of the curve.

Join Professional Groups

There is power in numbers and professional groups are a great way to get ahead. Networking opportunities and mentor/mentee relationships are great reasons for joining professional groups but the biggest perk is being able to serve on a committee.

When you are active in an organization, you see the impact of the different functions that make an organization work.

Pick Up a Side Hustle

All work and no play makes John and Jane dull employees. As much as you invest in your career, invest in your passion.

Your side hustle can be anything from doing PR for a local band in your city or planning events for a non-profit you believe in. Stay well rounded and follow your heart. You don’t have to go through a quarter-life crisis!

Speak Up

Don’t be intimidated in meetings and brainstorming sessions; you were hired for a reason so show the team what you can bring to the table. It is your job as a young professional to give a fresh perspective.

Have the confidence to speak up on opportunities a client can take advantage of, share your viewpoints while developing strategies, and most importantly don’t be afraid to ask questions.

The road to success is not a straight one, but you steer the wheel. Taking initiative and developing leadership skills is key to your success as a young professional. Do you have any suggestions on navigating your career when you’re not quite a recent graduate but not yet a manager?

Jasmine L. Kent, a member of PRSA-NCC, focuses on building community through dynamic events and engaging online marketing as a freelance integrated communications professional in Washington, DC. Keep up with her on Twitter at @LoveJasPR or visit 

5 Ways to Build a Network and Apply For Jobs in a New City

When my boyfriend got a new job in Connecticut and we decided to journey to CT together, I had never been to CT until the night I moved in. I moved all the way from Atlanta, GA, to Stamford, CT, and knew no one in the area.

5 Ways to Build a Network and Apply For Jobs in a New CityI had a little less than a month’s notice until we were moving, but I started to apply to jobs right away. Here are my best tips for networking and applying for jobs in a brand new city:

1. Research companies in the area you’re moving and apply for entry-level jobs with up to five years of experience.

In Stamford, GE, Philips, Conair, Reuters, NBC and many more companies have large presences. Although I didn’t get a job at one of those places, I applied to all of them and even interviewed with one. It helped me get a feel for the area.

The job I did end up getting listed 1-3 years of experience and I’ve recently found that I’m eligible for jobs that say up to 5 years of experience and companies are often flexible with that part of the job posting.

2. Research and inquire about local groups that fall within your passions and interests.

For me, I was really excited to find a local young democrats group and meet new people. I inquired about their meetings and went to one of their meetings shortly after I arrived.

There are so many different local groups for running, intramurals, religion, animal rescue and much more you can find and join. It helps to network and make friends with people you share interests with when you move to a new city.

3. While you’re in the process of moving, take time to apply to jobs and interview for them.

Although I wasn’t in the area, I offered to Skype in for interviews or interview in-person once I arrived. Sometimes it can take many weeks to find a job and it helps to get ahead of the application process before you move since moving itself takes up a lot of time.

I also found the interviewers really appreciated my openness and flexibility with doing Skype interviews or waiting until I arrived.

4. Find and join your local PRSA Chapter.

I knew that I was probably going to get a job in New York City and immediately joined the PRSA New York Chapter as well. I got involved with the new professionals committee within the Chapter and met a lot of new people through networking events in the city.

Use the PRSA website to find and join your local PRSA Chapter and inquire about any upcoming new professionals activities.

5. Make friends with co-workers and others who work close to your office.

Some of the best friends I’ve made worked in offices pretty close to mine and I do hang out with co-workers outside of work sometimes. I know opinion varies on making friends with co-workers, but that decision is up to you and co-workers can be great friends especially if you’re new to the area.

If you’re at the local coffee shop and see the same person or people every day, say hi and find out what they do and where they work!

So while moving to a new city can seem a little intimidating, it’s also full of opportunity and provides an extraordinary amount of growth for you personally and professionally.

Have any other tips to share? Please post them below!

Lauren GrayLauren Gray is currently a Project Director with local creative agency The Visual Brand in Stamford, CT. She also serves as a PRSSA Liaison co-chair on the PRSA New Professionals Section executive committee. Connect with her on Twitter and LinkedIn

Eight Ways to Transition to the “Real” World

IN TO THEFor many soon-to-be young professionals, the most highly anticipated (and somewhat dreaded) day of their scholastic career is quickly approaching. The weeks leading up to graduation are a blur. Between finals, awards ceremonies and saying, “goodbyes,” to friends, there is hardly any time to fully process what is going on.

Whether you plan on continuing your education, traveling or entering the workforce after graduation, the so-called “real” world is no longer a distant rumor. So, how do you move on from the cram sessions and grow accustomed to this new chapter?

I reached out to some fellow recent graduates, and we put our heads together to identify the best ways to ease the transformation from being a college student to a young professional.

1. Embrace Your Free Time. One of the greatest things about graduating is that you no longer have homework. Suddenly, you have more free time than you know what to do with. Use it wisely. Revisit old hobbies. Take on new hobbies. Get a Netflix account.

2. Everyone Transitions Differently. Keep in mind that goals take time, and everyone lands in a different place after graduation (Click to Tweet!).Avoid comparing yourself to what your friends are doing or where you think you should be by now.

3. Shake it off. You will make mistakes. It’s the only way to learn. Own it. Tell your supervisor. Find a solution, and move on. Chances are you won’t make that mistake again.

4. Get Involved. After college, I started coaching a softball team. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I wanted to do something to immerse myself in the community. I have learned more about myself as a leader, and I am having so much fun in the process. Enjoying activities outside of work also helps you to live a more balanced life.

5. Take Advantage of Opportunities. Many employers offer great programs and benefits to help you develop as a professional and grow with the company. I’ve found mentorship programs, in particular, to be invaluable.

6. Be an Expert at Something. As you become more comfortable with your work as a public relations professional, start thinking about what interests you the most. Then, make it your mission to get really good at it.

7. Join an Industry Organization and Stick With It. Organizations like the Public Relations Society of America allow you to meet leaders in your field and learn from them. They give you a chance to practice your craft outside of work. Industry groups are also a great way to start building your professional network.

8. Hang Onto Your Inner College Kid. The college lifestyle doesn’t necessarily have to end when college does. When nostalgia sinks in, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a bowl of ramen and catching up with your buddies from school.

It’s not easy to adjust to an entirely new lifestyle after college, but these pointers have helped me transition to the “real” world. Do you have additional tips and tricks for recent grads this spring? Leave them in the comments section!

Callie TurgeonCallie Turgeon graduated from Gonzaga University in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations, with a concentration in promotions and entrepreneurial leadership. She is currently an account associate at MSLGROUP, where she works mostly with commodity food accounts. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

Nine tricks to make networking easy

9 tricks to make networking easyNetworking: the necessary evil of the professional world.

I’ve yet to meet anyone who actually enjoys going to networking events and trying to make meaningful contacts in a room full of strangers. The degree of dread often depends on our individual personality type.

As an introvert, networking is one of my least favorite things on Earth. I like people with whom I share a common interest or two, but I detest the small talk and uncomfortable nature of networking.

It’s draining, anxiety-inducing and sometimes quite painful, but it’s necessary, so it’s worth finding ways to make it work for you.

1. Start by building your network where you’re comfortable.

The best way I’ve found to get your feet wet in networking is to start somewhere you’re already at ease. For me, that was Twitter.

That may sound like a huge cop-out, but by engaging in Twitter chats, I’ve been able to chat with bunches of like-minded professionals I would have never gotten to meet otherwise.

Believe it or not, there are more introverts in PR than you’d think.

2. Build a reputation that precedes you.

The hardest part about networking for introverts isn’t meeting new people but having to introduce and talk about ourselves to new people.

Building a reputation for yourself before you have to go out and meet everyone is a great way to skip the awkward part.

Create a website to showcase your work and your talents, volunteer for a cause that you enjoy and do something that you love. Create a brand for yourself and let it lead the way. (Click to Tweet!)

3. Be consistent.

We all know how important it is to craft your message to fit your audience, but it’s also equally as important to be consistent.

Networking isn’t much different than reaching your audience.

Whatever parts of yourself you choose to share when networking, keep consistent in what you say and do. It’ll be easy to practice and remember what to say when you meet new people.

4. Set goals and a time limit.

It’s unrealistic to expect to make 50 new connections and spend three hours at a networking event when you get anxious chatting with five strangers.

Give yourself a time limit that you’re comfortable with and a reasonable number of connections to make in that time to start with. If you stay longer because you’re enjoying yourself and make more connections, that’s great!

5. Prepare.

Do whatever you can to make yourself feel confident. Whether it’s practicing and perfecting your personal elevator pitch, planning out your power outfit or reaching out to attendees prior to the event, do whatever will make you feel most comfortable and confident to prepare yourself for the event at hand.

6. Bring an extrovert friend.

Everyone has at least one extrovert friend who has no problem chatting up a room full of new people and becoming friends with them all.

Bring him or her with you! Feed off of his/her energy and get yourself in the right mindset to meet new people. You don’t have to stick by your friend’s side for the whole event, but it’s a great way to get yourself started.

7. Take breaks.

Breaks and moments to recharge are essential for introverts. Just because you’re at a networking event doesn’t mean you should abandon your needs.

Find a quiet corner, step outside or sneak into the restroom for a quick break. Refreshing yourself and refocusing your energy are essential to keeping you going at any event.

8. Focus on compliments, not cards.

Too often at networking events, people focus on just introductions and getting others’ cards.

The purpose of these events is to make meaningful connections; it’s not a race to see who can come home with the most business cards.

Make yourself memorable by making compliments. Whether you admire an acquaintance’s style, work or attitude, let them know, but only if you’re sincere.

9. Plan your own events.

Maybe the setup of the networking events you’ve been to hasn’t worked for you. Then perhaps you should host your own event!

Volunteer for your PRSA chapter’s events committee or work with your alma mater’s alumni organization to plan events for members.

Being in charge of the event may put you at ease while attending because you already know what to expect and attendees will already know who you are if you’ve been vocal while planning the event.

Have you found a particular trick or tip that helps to make networking a bit more bearable for you? Share it with us!

Robyn Rudish-LaningRobyn Rudish-Laning is a graduate of Duquesne University, with a bachelor’s in Public Relations, a master’s in Media Arts and Technology, and currently works as a PR Associate with Pretty Living PR, a boutique firm based in Pittsburgh. Find her on LinkedIn or Twitter or read her PR-focused blog.