From Full-Time Student to Full-Time Communications Professional

You counted down the days with anticipation to graduate, and finally you made it. Now, you’re ready to move onto the next chapter and start your career in communications. Application after application and when you finally land that first job in your field, it’s only up from there. Starting your career is a wild ride as you are introduced to the real ups and downs of working full-time for real professionals and doing real work that matters. But do your professors, their assignments and tests really prepare you for what your career in communications is actually like?

When my first assignment was given to me, I was excited and anxious to impress my team. I poured everything I had learned in school into my pitch. After hours working on it and triple-checking my work, I sent it off to my boss only to hear that it sounded robotic. “How could this be?” I thought. After reviewing the work I put together, I learned that it wasn’t me personally; instead, bad habits developed throughout my academic life. As students, we are taught to follow the rubric, stay within the lines, and never colour outside them; be structured, formal, and creativity is limited.

Working in communications does not require you to follow the set guidelines you were taught in school. You were hired because your employer saw the value, skills and strengths you presented during your interview. As an employee, you are set with specific criteria and guidelines to meet, but that doesn't mean you need to squash your own personal creativity to get the job done effectively.

Your employer looks at how your work stands out and how it meets or exceeds their expectations. As a communicator, we’re meant to use our words in the way that sounds most natural all while achieving our overall goals. 

As a recent grad and a new member of the workforce, you will not have all the answers and it's not expected that you will know everything. So ask the questions, get tips on how to communicate more effectively both internally and externally. The skillsets graduates leave school with are a foundation that you build upon as you hone in on your skills throughout your career path. Though school provides the basic knowledge and preparation for what we might entail as we enter a new career, it is our responsibility to learn how to adjust and adapt to the clients and work you are assigned to.

Tips on starting your career in communications successfully: 

  • Be your authentic self. PR and communications is about building relationships, so don't feel the need to stick to a structure for format when communicating; let your creative juices flow and fuel the ideas that can aid the work you produce

  • Highlight your already existing skills and talents to your boss to have the opportunity to further build on them

  • Ask questions; no question is a silly question!

  • Be proactive and ask for feedback from your co-workers, bosses, etc. (This can include weekly or bi-weekly touch bases to find out how you are doing and what you could do to improve)

  • Take the initiative - Don’t wait for someone to tell you what to do. Take your chances, try it yourself, think about where you can add value and then ask for it to be reviewed.

Be yourself and ask questions to help you grow and learn more in your real-world experiences. It is natural to have hiccups from time to time; after all, you are new! However, do not let this discourage the work you produce.