9 musts for every communications grad

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Robin Farr

In a recent post, HubSpot blog listed 20 things every marketing student needs to know. Great advice, so we’re going to spin that for all you communications grads about to hit the streets.

Here are nine things every communications grad should know (or do), broken down into stuff for right now, for when you start your new job, and for the rest of your life.

Right now

1. Learn basic HTML. Seriously, it will help you. You’re going to have to build content at some point, or at the very least fix something that’s gone sideways. Years ago, before I even planned to work in communications, I asked my husband to teach me how to make a website. He was a grump and made me learn HTML instead of using whatever website-building program was big at the time, but it’s been a very handy skill to have in my communications work. (Just don’t tell him I said that.)

2. Get active on Twitter. Chances are you’re well acquainted with Twitter already, but if you aren’t, get on there. You’ll find great connections and tons of resources and learning opportunities. A degree in communications from Twitter University is the best pretend degree you’ll ever get.

3. Having a blog isn’t really experience. Having a blog is great for a lot of things—writing, staying up to date on social media trends and technology, making connections, etc.—but developing and promoting your own content isn’t the same as being the voice of an organization.

When you start your first dream job

4. Communication is about more than writing. You have to be a good writer, which I listed as an essential skill for corporate communicators in an earlier post. But I’ve known too many communications newbies who think that working in corporate communications is all about writing. You also have to be able to develop a solid communications plan. You have to roll it out effectively. And being able to handle issues management doesn’t hurt either (see No. 7). Communications is also about more than sharing information. It’s about engagement, dialogue, building trust—all those warm fuzzies.

5. You’re going to hear “no.” And you thought the B you got on your final project was bad. Part of communications is being able to plan (see No. 4), and sometimes your latest brilliant idea will land with a resounding thud when it gets to the desk in the corner office. Sometimes people won’t want to word things the way you do. Sometimes (gasp!) they won’t want to communicate something when you know it’s important. Just expect it (and try not to take it personally).

6. Meet the important people in the company. That doesn’t necessarily mean executives. When you start, figure out who knows what’s going on, who can get things approved fast, and who is a communications champion. These are all very helpful people to know.

7. Proofreading is good for the soul. This is true whether it’s your own writing or someone else’s. Just do it.

For the rest of your life

8. You can never really know how people will react. This ties into the aforementioned issues management part of the job (see No. 4). Companies do things all the time that their audiences—whether employees or customers or the general public—don’t like. The message can be taken the wrong way even when intentions are good, so here’s my advice: Be clear. Be thorough. Be prepared to respond.

9. Don’t be afraid to be creative. I’ve seen way too many communications efforts that are so dull you’ll wish you were back in the lecture hall. Please, please don’t contribute to that. Creative is good, trust me. So there you have it. Whether or not you’ve walked across the stage yet, you’re officially ready for your career in communications. Congratulations, and good luck out there.

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An open letter to a Baby Boomer CEO

Dear Baby Boomer CEO,

I’m a Millennial. I am young, talented, eager, and driven to get my foot in the door. It seems many people in the workplace, including you, often think my generation is unprofessional, non-attentive, and unmotivated.

This portrayal could not be further from the truth.

Millennials love challenges. We live for the excitement of diving right in and sharing our ideas. Every job-related experience is new to us. You think we’re un-attentive? No. We just don’t like to be bored. Does that mean we’re bored working for you? No. It means we are seeking to change tasks within our job and keep it exciting. Take advantage of our desire to keep learning, doing, and succeeding in your workplace.

We are talented. We have the skills you’re looking for. Not only did we go to college, but we’re taking our education beyond the classroom. Millennials complete more volunteer work today than any other generation, says the Corporation for National and Community Service. Aside from volunteer work, millennials eagerly accept unpaid internship opportunities.

Do you know how well millennials can multitask? You may find our addiction to social media and technology annoying, but we’re productive. Judith Lindenberger, president of Lindenberger Group LLC, says that millennials can easily complete tasks, talk on the phone, communicate online, research, write, create, read, study, demonstrate, and teach information to others simultaneously. We use every bit of technology that has enveloped our lives. Think of how advantageous this skill can be to you and your company.

I’m not expecting you to give me a handout. I’m a creative professional who just happens to be young. I want to be a part of your company. Put me to work. I’ll prove to you what I can do. And so will the rest of my generation.

Sincerely,

Mitch Kohl

Editor’s Note: Mitch Kohl really is looking for a job. If you know any openings, send him a tweet.

Your first real job: 4 tips from a millennial

By Kristin Piombino

Congratulations to all the new college grads out there!

Toss your tasseled hat into the air; take last-minute pictures of all the campus landmarks; and stay out all night with your friends at your favorite bar because in a few weeks, you’ll be sitting behind a desk with a Real Person Job.

But don’t worry.

As a May 2010 grad, I can assure you that joining the workforce as a millennial can almost be as much fun as college.

Almost.

As one of the newest millennials to join Ragan’s Millennial Mafia, I wanted to share what I learned during my first month on the job.

1. Seize opportunities, even if it’s not ‘work’ related

If someone invites you to lunch, go. If there’s a networking event on Friday night, go. If the person in the neighboring cubicle asks you to join the workout group after work on Wednesday, go.

Get to know the people you’re working with. Not only will you have friends and enjoy going to work every day, you will feel more comfortable around your co-workers and be more inclined to share your ideas.

The faster you can start contributing, the better.

2. Don’t turn your work in late

Keep track of your to-do list, meeting schedule and upcoming projects. Why? If you don’t get something done on time, other people’s projects could be affected. This is much worse than getting docked a letter grade.

Also, communicate openly with your boss. If you have a long-term project, let your boss know your progress and when he or she can expect it to be finished. This shows that you’re reliable and hard working.

3. School’s out! But the learning never stops

No matter what the job is, you won’t know all of the material you’re going to need on day one. Be prepared to learn. As a writer and editor, I’m currently learning basic HTML. Maybe you will have to learn a new technology or another language. Whatever it is, be ready to take a lot of notes, ask questions and master it.

4. Go beyond the first impression

Your first impression doesn’t end when you ace the interview and accept the job offer. The first few weeks on the job are essential for proving yourself. Show that you’re excited to be there and that you’re willing to work hard. Take initiative on extra projects, work quickly and be friendly with your co-workers. You’ll prove that you’re dependable and hard working, and quickly gain more responsibility and interesting assignments.