Transition to the Real World: A New Professionals Guide on the Transition from Student to Young Professional

A recap from the New Professionals session at the 2015 PRSSA National Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

How did you find your first job out of college? How did you use your PRSSA membership in interviewing?

“I was working part-time as a cashier at my current company. As I was gearing up to graduate in December, I requested an informational interview with my now boss. I presented some ideas to improve/add-on to their current communications plan. He was intrigued and invited me to complete a three-month trial internship. A lot of my experience came from PRSSA activities and internships, so I was able to leverage my membership.”

What has been the biggest challenge transitioning from a student to full-time employee?

“Time management, by far, the hardest part about moving into full-time work is understanding when you should stay late or come in early. As PR professionals, we’re always plugged in and on the go. Don’t get burned out trying to impress the boss that already thinks you’re doing a great job. It’s also important to learn how to balance your extracurriculars. You did this in college and now you are learning to do it with a full-time job. Don’t hesitate to take 6 months to a year off to enjoy some free time. You’re allowed to dictate how much you want to put into your professional organizations.” —JR Rochester

“The initial transition from college to the real world can take some adjusting, but finding the right mentors to guide you can make all the difference.” —Jess Noonan

How did you leverage your PRSSA network for your career and transition?

“When I began my job hunt my final year of college, I made it a point to reach out to PRSSA members that I had met at National Conference, Regional Conferences and at my Chapter. We shared advice and tips we’d learned from our own experiences as well as what we’d heard from speakers and mentors. That kind of help and support was tremendous. Once I was hired, I leaned on PRSSA friends who had graduated one to two years earlier to talk about preparing for the transition. I also leveraged the professionals I had met through PRSSA, too. I told my mentors what type of position I was looking for and they helped me hone how to speak my experiences that highlighted relevant skills. During my interview at Edelman, two senior leaders on my current team knew people in my network, which I found out through LinkedIn mutual connections.” —Brian Price

What has been your biggest challenge as a PR professional?

“Showcasing all of my potential skills. Employers believed that executing social media on a daily basis was what I was solely interested in doing. I had to show them that I was interested in traditional PR, media buying and media direct relationship building, as well. It’s important to lay out all of your skill sets on the table when you enter the job and also communicate what you’re interested in learning more about. Staying organized and not being afraid to ask for help are two things that can help you better transition from student to a PR professional.” —JR Rochester

How did you build relationships at your first job?

“Ask questions. Take time to connect with people who aren’t in your department. If you’re short on work at the beginning, ask your boss if you can help with other tasks or suggest potential projects you’d like to research. Showing initiative goes a long way with a lot of people.” —Hilary Jurinak

Why did you stay involved with PRSA? How did you find a way to be an active PRSA member?

“I joined PRSA Chicago after months of attending events and seminars. I waited to join the Chicago New Pros board until I had a better understanding of the Chapter. I am now the Chicago Chapter’s PRSSA liaison, which is a role that is very comfortable for me.” —Brian Price

What advice would you give to your 21-year-old self?

“Challenge yourself to keep up with as many peers and professionals in your network as you can. Stay formal as much as you can, but also remember to relax. Visit Hilary and me in Chicago and we’ll connect you with peers that work in your similar interested fields.”

“Looking for a job can be a lot of fun. Find what you’re most passionate about and turn that into a career.” —Hilary Jurinak

“Be yourself. Employers love creativity and seeing what you’re fully capable of. Stay confident and your character will shine.” —JR Rochester

“Don’t get too caught up in the day-to-day and always try to look at the larger picture. Particularly, keep in mind where you want to go with your career and how what you’re doing today impacts your tomorrow.” — Jess Noonan

Connect with Brian, Hilary, Jess, and J.R. online!