During my first six months as a member of the BIGfish team, I’ve been immersed in the technology industry and experienced all the perks that come with working at a small PR agency. I’ve also learned a lot, both as a PR professional and as someone who’s working her first job out of college. For those of you preparing to take the leap from college to “real” adulthood, the BIGfish team put together some of our most helpful advice on how to put your best foot forward at your first job.
Dive headfirst into your new role.
This was especially important for me since I had no prior experience in the tech PR industry. Submerge yourself in client work, especially if you have access to previous pitches, press releases or media lists. Learn the language your coworkers use when writing about clients (no need to reinvent the wheel), explore and read about past and current projects and pay close attention to the conversations in the office – and ask questions about things that need clarification.
Anticipate what comes next.
After a few weeks in the office, you’ll notice a rhythm to the work flow. You’ll realize the way the team works and see the processes in action. Once this all connects, apply it to your own projects and anticipate future needs before someone asks for them.
Stay on top of current events in your industries and beyond.
This seems like a no-brainer for someone in the PR industry, but it really is essential. Ensuring you know what’s going on in the news will prevent you from doing something silly, like sending irrelevant or insensitive tweets during a breaking news event. Not only should you be checking national news outlets, but you should also keep a close eye on the top outlets in any relevant industries. Follow them on Twitter and skim their homepages every morning. It’s the easiest way to keep an eye on competitors and potential media contacts!
Get to know your coworkers.
Let’s be honest – you spend more time with your coworkers than most other people in your life. Invest some time into these relationships. If your office is anything like the BIGfish office, you’ll have outings outside of work to get to know your new coworkers; even something as simple as talking about your weekends and asking about their lives creates a harmonic relationship in the office. It’s so much easier to give input and get involved in the office when you feel comfortable with your coworkers!
This is a personal struggle for me, mainly because it took awhile to sink in that I wasn’t an intern! Remember that as a full-time member of the team, you’re not only encouraged to speak up; it’s actually part of your job to participate and give input. Your coworkers and supervisors want to hear what you’re thinking. Who knows, maybe the next great idea will be yours!
Still looking for more? Check out some advice from my amazing coworkers:
- Bristol: Remember you’re no longer an intern. I know Adriana already touched on this, but it’s worth repeating. You were hired because you’re qualified for the job, and thus, you need to start doing your job right away. Don’t be afraid to speak up: share your ideas, give valuable feedback, embrace that fact that you’re a “real” member of the team, not just a temporary, part-time employee. In doing so, your supervisors will give you more responsibility and you’ll become a more productive contributor to your team. I’d be willing to make a bet that your team would rather hear a bold, crazy idea, than nothing at all.
- Brigid: Stay organized. Although you (hopefully) had a lot going on during the past four years in college, taking on a full time job in PR means you’ll have a lot of projects to manage at once. Make sure you write everything down; everyone forgets things once in awhile, so make sure to keep a note of every task that needs to get done so nothing slips through the cracks. Lucky for us, BIGfish has an organized system in place for all our documents, assignments and client work so it’s easy to stay on top of everything from the get-go.
- Meredith: Ask questions. It’s hard for your supervisor(s) to know exactly what you are or are not familiar with. They also have a lot on their plates and may not always be aware of what you’re working on. Make yourself known, and keep your team and managers in the loop. The more questions you ask, the fewer mistakes that are made and the more efficient the entire team is. Efficiency is one of the key elements that turns a good PR team into a great PR team.
- Jess: Jump in. Actively participate in discussions, brainstorms and conference calls. Whether you are offering solutions, information, research or just feedback, adding your input will get you noticed as an essential part of the team.
- Dave: Read, listen, watch, repeat… When you’re starting out in any industry, but PR in particular, it’s critical to consume as much media as possible and then consume more. You can only start to understand the formulas that make stories great by consuming media. Pay particular attention to the way your teammates develop and craft story ideas to pitch out. Take note of which of those stories get picked up. Based on this analysis, push yourself to adjust your own ideation and storytelling to incorporate what you see is working and eliminate what is not getting traction. This is an activity you want to constantly repeat as the media does not sit still and yesterday’s pitch will get you nowhere tomorrow.