Transitioning from College to Career

    By Bailey Gannett, Associate Communications Specialist at Cherwell, Communications Committee

    As the school semester finishes out in the next few weeks, many young PRSSA members are eager to try on those graduation caps and step into the next phase of their professional careers. Having been in that same position this time last year, I can empathize with the anxiety, enthusiasm and uncertainty that unfolds as that career path begins taking shape.

    When moving from college to career, it is important to take time to ensure it will be as fluid of a transition as possible. Below are some tips for the PRSSA students who will soon (hopefully) become PRSA members in May!

    1. Take Time for Reflection
      Graduation is such a busy time, and many students are overwhelmed with the amount of projects to wrap up, tests to take, job interviews to schedule and offers to decide on. I, too, was guilty of not taking as much time as I should have to truly reflect on my college days and what was ahead. Please be sure to take time for yourself, whether that’s a week, a month or more, to truly reflect on how far you have come and where you want to go. Not everyone knows what they want to do when they graduate, and that’s alright! Take the time you need to figure out what truly makes you happy, so you can feel confident as you transition into the career world.

    2. Networking is Key
      Do NOT waste time mass applying your resume to every PR or communications job in the area. Instead, focus in and strategize on three to five target companies that you really have your eye on. Do your research ahead of time to understand what type of work culture you want, what type of job responsibilities will be required and which type of people you will work best with.

      Once you have those target companies defined, spend this last month of school networking with key individuals who can help you navigate into that space. Whether it’s making relevant connections on LinkedIn, taking a mentor out to coffee or doing an informational interview with a PR professional in that organization, it can help you to advance your career and speed up your transition. Professionals in the space can offer valuable advice, insight and guidance as you trade out that graduation gown for a blazer.

    3. Understand the Changing Environment
      Once you enter the work world, a lot will change. Dress code, email etiquette, time commitments and even the types of peers you interact with on the daily will shift. Be mindful of these things as you start your first job, and do not get down on yourself if it takes you a while to adjust. If you are working a 9-to-5 office job, it will take a few months for your body and mindset to really “click” with your new lifestyle. Yes, waking up at 6 a.m. and not feeling like death is actually possible! You will find that there is more free time in the evenings and weekends to fill with hobbies, PRSA events or time with loved ones.

    4. Seek Out OR Connect with Other Young Professionals
      Whether it’s keeping in touch with your peers from college or joining the PRSA Colorado New Professionals niche group, it’s important to stay in touch with other young professionals who are going through the same transition you are. This way, you have people to bounce ideas off of, learn from and strategize alongside. Other young professionals know what you’re going through and can be a great shoulder to lean on.  

    5. Keep the Learning Cap On
      As you transition from college to career, it’s important to recognize that you truly never stop learning. Take advantage of your mentors, bosses, workshops, conferences and PRSA events to stay sharp and in-tune with the industry. Just because you no longer have classes does not mean that you have to stop learning. Your career path should involve continuous growth and professional development. One of the best things you can do for yourself is to remain involved in PRSA to learn new trends and skills as well as meet people who can help you navigate the college-to-career path.

     I remember how uncertain it all felt at this time last year, but I promise you, it all works out in the end. Good luck with graduating, and I hope to see you at future PRSA Colorado events!

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