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).

How to Get Your First Promotion

You’ve made it through your first full-time position, congratulations! Getting the first position is the hardest part, but you’ve managed to break into the industry. You’ve got the experience and some new skills, but how do you take it to the next level?

Getting a promotionBelow are five ways to get to the next level in your career.

Act like you are already in the next position.

Once you’ve mastered the requirements of your current position, start learning about what’s required at the next level.

Let’s say you are the assistant account executive for your team. You are charged with maintaining media lists, keeping the department clip report updated and assisting the team as needed. What does an account executive do? They might take your efforts further and build relationships with contacts on the media lists, they might create custom media lists, they use the clips in the report to share results with clients, etc. Start emulating those actions.

Take inventory of your job responsibilities and see how you can take them a step further.

Become a resource for your department

Is your boss having trouble getting a client invoice approved through accounting? Having trouble getting timely numbers and results from your research department?

It pays to network, even inside of your organization. Get to know the different parts of your organization and make yourself a resource for getting important but tedious tasks done quickly.

Continue your education

Become involved in your local PRSA chapter. Attend monthly luncheon or happy hours. Join a committee or participate in a Twitter chat or webinar. There are so many ways to get involved with PRSA and it shows that you are invested in becoming a better PR professional.

A positive attitude goes a long way

We’ve all had days when you are just not feeling up to it, whatever it maybe. Or things may be stressful in your personal life. But remember, work is not the place to take out your frustrations.

Maintaining a positive attitude may seem insignificant, but your coworkers and most importantly your boss will notice if you have a negative attitude. Shooting down others’ ideas, not participating in team activities, showing disgust for tasks that you believe are beneath you will not get you promoted, but they can get you fired.

Learn to take constructive criticism

No one likes to be criticized. However, constructive criticism is crucial to advancing your career. Learn how to effectively take criticism and apply it to future situations and assignments. Incorporating feedback shows that you are a good listener and are mature enough to learn for criticism.

Most importantly, advancing and excelling in your career is a process. Learn from mistakes, apply criticism and feedback accordingly and cultivate your skills. You never know when the next opportunity will appear.

Victoria Lightfoot (1)Victoria Lightfoot graduated from Georgia State University in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts in journalism, concentrating in public relations. She is currently the PR coordinator at the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau and volunteers on PRSA Georgia’s College Relations Committee and co-chairs the Travel & Tourism Special Interest Group. Connect with Victoria on LinkedIn and Twitter (@Victoria_Lenese)

How to control your future career {PRSA Colorado event recap}

Editor’s note: The following recaps Laura Cardon’s experience at PRSA Colorado’s recent workshop. Find your upcoming local PRSA events here.

After getting carded immediately upon entering the Mile High Moguls job search workshop, I suddenly realized I might be the only person in attendance that had graduated from college.

This turned out to be true, but I considered the night a success despite feeling a bit out of place. Andrew Hudson’s job interview workshop was incredibly helpful, AND I discovered that I still look young enough to get carded!

How to control your future careerMany of Andrew’s points drew close parallels to what we are already well-versed in as PR professionals:

  • Tell a story,
  • Prepare thoroughly,
  • Be honest, and
  • Create a personal brand that people want to be loyal to.

Sounds familiar right?

It’s easy to forget that you have this skill set when you’re searching for a job. Multiple rejections, or even simply no response at all, start to wear on even the most upbeat person.

But don’t get stuck in the quicksand – you have more control over your future than you may think.

Andrew was quick to point out that you actually enjoy total control over several aspects of your job search, and that doesn’t just mean interview prep.

You have control over your personal brand, woven together by:

  • Your personal social media presence,
  • A well-prepared elevator pitch and cold call script, and
  • A polished resume.

You control all of these things, and if you do your homework and enlist the help of others for advice, your chances of getting an interview increase exponentially.

Once you’ve made it into that interview, Andrew emphasized that you want to be a sigh of relief for your interviewers, that “ahh” feeling when they realized they have found exactly who they need.

You are the solution to their problem.

How do you present yourself as that sigh of relief?

Make it clear why you are the best candidate, backed up with specific examples of relevant work and how you will add value to the company or organization.

For example, don’t say you’re hard-working. Everyone is hard-working.

Show your interviewers how you are hard-working based on a story you can tell about a time you’ve gone above and beyond.

In the end, the most successful job seekers truly make it their full time job. (Click to tweet!)

If you’re not currently employed, it’s easy to get a bit lazy, but you’re much more likely to be successful if you treat your job hunt like you are going to work each morning.

Andrew suggested making a routine – spending x amount of time on cold calls, actively searching for jobs, interview prep, etc.

Don’t forget that looking for a job is a skill that can be developed. And under no circumstances forget to send a written thank you note to your interviewer!

Andrew Hudson’s Job List is an excellent resource for job seekers in the Denver metro area (it’s actually where I found my job). Just to be clear, none of the above advice is my own – it is all based on Andrew’s workshop and his fantastic advice. Linhart PR was kind enough to host us for the Mile High Moguls event, which benefitted PRSSA at Colorado State University. For more information about PRSA Colorado, visit

Other resources from Andrew:

Laura CardonLaura Cardon is a public relations professional living in Denver, CO. Originally from Maryland, Laura enjoys riding horses, hiking, and volunteering at the Denver Animal Shelter. In her spare time, Laura also shares her passion for the great outdoors with fellow beginner outdoors enthusiasts on her blog, Outdoors Beginner. Find her on Twitter @LauraCardon23.

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

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.