Last night, during the #PowerAndInfluence chat few people asked about networking tips. Networking is never easy at first, especially for students. I remember I was extremely shy and nervous at my first event at university. I was scared to talk to my lecturers, not even mentioning the practitioners that came along. However, practice makes it perfect.
1. Go to industry events
Events are a great way of practicing your networking skills, meeting like-minded people and building your professional network. Once you sign up to an event, check the speakers on social media and see what they like talking about. This way, you have a topic in mind when you approach them at the event.
At such events, you will have to get out of your comfort zone. Sounds scary, I know. But just remember that all those senior people were students before. They understand how valuable it is for young people to communicate with successful professionals like themselves, and they will never refuse talking to you. Ask questions about their job, the industry or a recent campaign. Listening and learning is part of the networking process.
If there are no local events that you can go to, ask your lecturers to invite alumni, who can share their journey since graduating. You will get the chance to network and get tips on how to break into the industry.
2. Connect on social media
Thanks to LinkedIn and Twitter, networking is easier than ever. Students can connect with practitioners and follow their careers. Join the conversation and comment on some tweets/posts. Again, ask questions. There are so many successful PR practitioners, who are always willing to talk to students and help them. You just need to approach them. Don’t be afraid to talk to people.
Ella Minty, Stephen Waddington and Richard Bailey are just some of the people, who will always find time to answer your questions.
Once you have built a rapport on social media, you can invite them for a coffee meeting. Face-to-face networking is better as you can discuss a variety of topics and build the relationship.
3. Follow your peers
If you are afraid to jump into the deep waters immediately, start by following your peers from other universities. For example, blogging is a great way of approaching like-minded students. Jessica Pardoe, Orlagh Shanks and Marcel Klebba are fantastic examples of PR bloggers, who have excelled at networking. Read their blogs, connect with them and ask for their tips. All of us have panic attacks when we need to speak with strangers, but by talking with people at your age, you can practice.
For more tips, read Marcel’s posts on networking. And if you have any questions after that, just ask.
For all Bournemouth students, who want to practice their networking skills, come along to “Meet the Professionals” event on 18th March. Book tickets at: https://bumeettheprofessionals.eventbrite.co.uk
No, unfortunately I am not secretly a pop star like Hannah Montana. My life revolves around studying and working in PR. At the same time. Bold move, right? Just says ‘yes’, I like to think that I am very brave for doing both things.
When I was near the end of my placement year and few months until I go back to writing essays, I realised that I will miss working. Never thought I would say this at my age, but it was true. I loved working in PR: getting coverage for clients, talking to journalists and discussing everything new and juicy in the industry. Therefore, I decided to get a part-time job in PR whilst being a final year student. I didn’t want to miss the connection I had with the industry and have a gap on my CV for a year.
Now, 5 months into final year at university and my job, I can honestly say this is the best of both worlds. Yes, I admit it’s very challenging and difficult, especially in some weeks, full of deadlines, but all the pressure is worth it.
World 1: University
Few months until handing in my dissertation, I can say that I will miss university. Final year is definitely not easy, but I learnt so many new things. For example, statistics. Yes, I studied correlations and regressions on a PR unit. Even though I disliked it at 2-3am on some nights, now that’s over, I realise how valuable it was. Data insights are freaking important for campaigns and I would have never known that if it wasn’t for Data Driven Marketing (Thanks, Joyce!). For example, now I know how human values can influence climate change beliefs in Russia and Sweden. A bit random topic, but the analysis can be very useful for sustainability campaigns. And knowing how to analyse data can be very beneficial for me in the future. It’s certainly a skill that I am putting on my CV.
A university degree in PR is a great starting point for a career in the industry. I know that there are people arguing the importance of it, but I believe that at university, you push yourself to get high grades and you develop yourself. For example, you learn how to meet tight deadlines (who said you can’t write a 5000-word essay the night before the deadline!?), how to do a proper research and you might overcome your fear of public speaking during presentations. And you meet amazing people, who support you along the way.
World 2: Part of the Crowd
I work part-time as a PR & Marketing Executive at Crowd, a global creative agency. It’s not a PR agency, so I don’t have a mentor or someone to teach me new PR skills. Instead, I am putting everything I learnt on my placement into practice. I do PR for Crowd and being the sole PR person for an agency with 12 offices globally, it’s not easy. But it’s different from what I have done before and this keeps me excited and curious. I get first hand experience on how creative agencies work and at the same time, I work in PR. I write press releases; opinion pieces and I secure coverage in top-tier publications. Even though my job is mainly media relations, I gain an understanding of how digital marketing campaigns work.
I would be lying if I say it’s very easy to manage a job and university. It’s not, but it’s possible and worth it. Experience is everything when you enter the working world after graduation. People from your course or other universities are competing for the same jobs as you. So, you need to stand out from the crowd somehow. Moreover, I certainly improved my time management and organisation skills while juggling my assignments with working three days a week.
To all students out there, no matter what year at university you are in: get work experience. I can’t stress enough how important it is to show on an interview that you have at least a faint idea how an agency operates. Try and get a few weeks of experience during the spring or summer break. And if your timetable allows it, get a part-time job while studying. It’s possible to get high grades and work at the same time.
Yes, this exists (I Googled it, must be real). I am at the point in my life, where I can do whatever I want, but I am scared to do anything.
The past 23 years have been planned for me – elementary school, high school and then university. I knew what’s next and I knew what I had to do to achieve it. But now I have so many choices for the future that I am not sure which one is the right one. Do I continue my education and enrol for a master’s degree? Do I apply for a graduate scheme? Do I apply for a normal entry level job and start climbing up the career ladder?
So many questions and I do not have the answers for them. I know that many students experience my issues and have similar worries. And I understand that this anxiety about the future is a normal stage of everyone’s life. But I cannot help but wonder if I am making the right decisions.
There is one thing that I know for sure – PR is the career for me. I have no doubt in that. I loved my placement and I love my current job (although, it’s quite difficult managing studying and working at the same time). I love the feeling when I secure a coverage in the media. I like meeting new and exciting clients. It’s an industry that changes every day and I cannot wait to be part of it, but first I need to decide – what’s next?
After three years at university, I am not running with open hands towards another degree. But I cannot get rid of the feeling that this might be a good option for me. In Bulgaria, my home country, having a master’s degree opens so many doors, so I might be partly biased. And my parents are keen on me continuing my education. I am considering a master’s degree only because I am not sure that I will ever go back to a university once I start working. I know that I cannot foresee the future, but I have this feeling that one dissertation in a lifetime is enough. But on the other hand, having a master’s degree gives you this additional expertise that you might need to go to a managerial position later. I am not saying ‘No’ to this option yet, so I have chosen few degrees to apply to just in case.
I think that graduate schemes that are 12 months, just like placements, are fantastic option for students like me. Students, who have no idea what to do with their lives. I like the rotational schemes, where you get the chance to work across different departments and gain knowledge about a variety of PR sectors. This way, you find out what you like and what you hate. But, unfortunately, there are not many companies offering these schemes. And I am not sure if a normal graduate job is for me. Of course, if I find some amazing opportunity in an agency that I really like, I will accept it. But what if I start working and then I never go back to university to do a master’s degree. My fear from the previous point will come and haunt me.
I have experience only in B2B PR and media relations. I haven’t worked in Consumer PR or any other sector, so I would love to try a different area of PR before choosing a master’s degree.
Around the world
I know that students take the time after university to travel and see new places. I would be lying if I say I don’t want to travel the world, but I don’t want to have that gap on my CV. It might be stupid, because you learn new things while visiting different places, but taking time off is not on my list. I would prefer to get a job at a global agency that will allow me to go and work at one of their offices in another country. Every day can be an adventure in the PR industry!
Although, I am extremely happy that Harvard referencing might not be part of my life after June, I am scared. I am excited for the new challenges ahead, but I just hope that whatever decisions I make, they will turn out to be the right ones. But as soon as I choose an option, my life crisis might be over and a new chapter begins.
Hi there! Welcome to my blog about PR and things that I find fascinating.