You’re out of school and ready to enter the real world, but are you really?  I thought I was prepared after my four years of classes but turns out; there is so much I had yet to learn.  Yes, some lessons can’t be taught in a classroom, but I wish I had someone to warn me about some of the things I’d be expected to know.  So, here are my bits of wisdom from my internship a.k.a. my crash course in PR.

  • Research twice as much as you pitch

It’s no fun calling a reporter only to have the phone slammed in your ear.  Lucky for me, this happened on my very first day at my internship.  I was making my way down the media list I felt I had successfully made and I came across a reporter that hadn’t updated their job title and no longer covered anything close to what I was pitching.  With the access we now have to people on a professional and personal level across social media platforms, there is no excuse anymore to not figure out if the reporter is relevant before getting to that point.  Most reporters have a presence on LinkedIn and Twitter, making it easy to research their job title, or at least what they currently cover, with a few searches.

  • Network, Network, Network

It’s easy for people to lie or fabricate things about themselves online.  For this reason, people want to hire people they can trust, and who do they trust more than people they have actually met or formed a relationship with?  Networking is becoming increasingly more important.  Blindly applying for jobs is not the most effective method.  Get out there and talk to people, connect with them online and reach out to successful people in the industry for advice.

*Hint: People like to be noticed and appreciated for their hard work so by letting them know you look up to them, you’ve already begun to form that relationship.

  • Be a news junkie

I recently obtained a great skill: rapid response pitching.  With the continuous conversations that are happening online at any given moment, staying up on current events and trends is crucial when it pertains to the industry you are working in.  People like to get responses and see varying sides of an argument or story so by staying on top of the news you have the opportunity to actively partake in those conversations.  This is also important for damage control too since news is no longer limited to news sources.  You don’t want to be the person in charge of monitoring the conversation about your brand and miss someone commenting about how much it sucks.

  • Be prepared to read.  A lot.

Speaking of being a news junkie, be prepared to learn said news by reading.  A lot.  Get accustomed to spending a large part of your day reading through news sites; particularly ones that pertain to the industry you work in.  Being informed about things going on around the world is crucial so you don’t end up pitching your news right as everyone finds out a celebrity is back in rehab, totally masking your big moment.

  • Bigger isn’t always better

Just like with presents, good things often come in small packages.  Many students and recent grads look at companies with big, recognizable names for their first jobs or internships.  While getting into a well-known company is rarely a bad thing, don’t overlook the small start-up companies.  In smaller companies, the newer and younger employees and even the interns are actually given important tasks since there are fewer people to get the job done and many people often wear multiple hats.

  • Pay attention to detail- no matter what the task

Don’t be stuck in the awkward situation where you were in charge of ordering Jimmy Johns for everyone at a lunch meeting and you forgot to get one person their sandwich. (An unhappy, hungry coworker is the LAST thing you want).

In classes, teachers always require attention to detail so they are receiving quality work.  Obviously everyone aims to produce work that is near perfect but many people overlook the fact that not-so-important tasks call for this same attention to detail.  Keep this in mind when you are at the bottom of the totem pole and in charge of fetching the coffee, organizing files, etc. Screwing up small tasks is embarrassing and often frustrates people.

  • Time zones

Time zones are cool because when you travel, you get an extra hour, right? Wrong. Unless of course, you consider trying to schedule interviews with two people in two different time zones while you are in another one fun.  Get acquainted with Google calendar and how to use the time zone conversion or print out a time zone map and post it up on the wall so you aren’t left scrambling when trying to schedule a super important meeting.

So while this list may not make you 100% prepared to take on the real world, I hope it has been informative.  Either way, your first job or internship will be a crash course in all things PR.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

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