Earlier this month, Allie Duncan of NYC PR Girls shared a few reasons that make public relations one of the most stressful jobs on the market (Public Relations Executive ranked #6 on the Career Cast list of the most stressful jobs of 2014). And as an aspiring PR professional, the whole topic made me queasy. Like, gigantic-knot-in-the-pit-of-my-stomach queasy. Why would I pursue a career in a field that is inherently stressful? I mean, I know it’s healthy to be motivated by a little stress, but I can’t fathom spending the rest of my professional (and let’s face it: personal) life drowning in it… SOS.
This past summer I gained my first real and applicable work experience through my marketing internship with Fred Meyer Jewelers. As a copywriter, I dedicated the majority of my time to writing over 200 fine jewelry product descriptions for the ecommerce site. And not to toot my own horn, but I think I was able to uphold an air of professionalism, deliver good content and exceed expectations (toot toot). How was I able to survive in the workplace and not collapse under the pressure of being a newbie?
Something prepared me for this. So I decided to craft a list of reminders to assure myself (and others) that what I’m doing now will prepare me for a career I love. I won’t be a fish out of water when I graduate from this institution and embark on my journey as a public relations professional. Because I know the importance of the taking the following to heart:
Be timely, but be honest. Obviously, it is important to meet deadlines. But if something comes up, your professor, boss or client will be much more likely to understand if you keep them updated and informed. Life happens. Just remember to keep them in the loop.
Admit that you don’t know everything. On multiple occasions this summer I was afraid to ask for clarification, bound by the fear that my question would be considered stupid. But the times I stayed silent were the ones that got me into trouble. If you don’t know or understand something, speak up! It’s far better to ask questions than to make assumptions. And maybe I was blessed with a very inviting, inclusive and helpful work environment, but not once was I ridiculed for the questions I asked.
Revise, revise revise. And then revise again. You will never produce a perfect draft of anything on the first try. Get a fresh set of eyes to look over your work. They’ll help you catch any small mistakes and address miscommunication gaps.
Produce things outside of your classes. The classroom is a great place to learn methods and techniques, but a grading rubric can sometimes put constraints on your creativity. And while it can be difficult to prioritize outside projects with the plethora of deadlines on your to-do list, make time and create content that you care about. I assure you that your passion will shine through the work that you produce.
Form relationships. The University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication is full of knowledgeable faculty with a plethora of experience. Take advantage of this. Faculty can be an excellent resource for providing that extra insight or pointing you in the right direction. During my summer at Fred Meyer Jewelers, I offered my assistance whenever possible. I learned that when you are willing to lend a helping hand, someone will almost inevitably be there to return the favor when you need some extra help.
By consistently biting off more than I can chew – between credit hours, the thesis process and internship involvement – I almost always feel overwhelmed. But somehow I always survive, and I think it is due to my educational and life experience. And while I can’t comment on my future career in public relations, I can hypothesize that these reminders will help ground me when I get there. Comments, suggestions and reality checks welcome.