9 musts for every communications grad

Image

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.

Advertisements

My millennial sister is moving to Texas

Image

Jessica Levco

I’m celebrating my four-year anniversary of living in Chicago.

This year, I’m turning into an adult—a real person, with real responsibilities. I bought a condo. I water my plants. I’ve run two half-marathons.

But it wasn’t always this way.

Four years ago, when I moved here, I had no idea what I was doing. I had no job, no friends (OK, OK, maybe one or two), no money, no food, nowhere to live—nothing.

But it’s amazing that over time, all those “no’s” have turned into “yes’s.”

Now, it’s my sister’s turn to make some “yes’s” of her own.

She graduated from college last May. After realizing that living with mom and dad isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be, she’s moving to Austin, Texas this week with a friend of hers from college.

She keeps asking me for advice on how she should be living her life.

How do I buy a car? How much should I spend on rent? How do I get a job? How long should I boil water to make  spaghetti?

Millennials face an endless amount of questions when they first start out. Unfortunately, I don’t have an endless amount of answers.

But maybe you do. Readers: what advice would you give to my sister? 

10 ways to know when a millennial becomes an adult

Jessica Levco

We know you’re old enough to be considered an adult.

But when you start to compare your lifestyle to other people in your PR or communications office, do you ever feel like you’re faking it?

A lot of your co-workers are married, pop out babies, talk about their mortgage, worry about retirement, and spend their weekends at Little League practice.

And even though you’re only a few years younger than them, you sometimes feel like you’re in College 2.0. You’re still renting an apartment, staying out until 3 a.m. on Saturdays, and just recently mastered the art of boiling water (for your Ramen Noodles).

But even though you haven’t hit the traditional milestones that signify adulthood, you might be starting down that path—whether you like it or not.

Here are 10 ways to know if you’re becoming an adult in the PR or communications field.

Finding a steady job—and something that you like. A lot of your friends might be stuck in a dead-end job or working on something they are passion-less about. This feeling of aimlessness will make them feel more childlike. Don’t fall into the trap. If you’re already thinking that you don’t enjoy your workday, it’s your responsibility to make the change.

Moving to a new city. Speaking of changes, this is one of the most adult moves you can ever make. Especially if you’re doing it solo. Just the act of figuring out how to take apart your dresser drawer will make you feel like a competent 40-year-old.

Being financially responsible. Don’t ignore your HR manager when it’s time to sign up you’re your company’s 401K plan. Take $100 out of your pay check each month and put it into your savings account. When you get older, you’ll thank your younger self for being so prudent.

Being financially irresponsible, too. Remember: It’s OK to enjoy your money. If you want to order filet mignon every once in a while, we won’t tell.

Not asking for permission. Unless you’re defaming your company or selling insider information, try to see what you can do without constantly asking for a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ from your boss. As a millennial, you’re young, fresh, and eager—see how much you can get away with. (Example: We started Ragan’s Millennial Mafia before we told our CEO what we were up to.)

Going to networking events alone. This is one of the greatest, boldest things you can do for your career. If you tag around with co-workers, you’ll only end up talking to them. If you go by yourself, you’ll be forced to talk to people you normally might not get the chance to meet.

Being careful using social media. You know you’re growing up when you de-tag pictures of yourself from doing keg stands, playing beer pong or holding up a ‘Stop’ sign you stole. But be careful: Office holiday pictures can be just as scandalous.

Choosing your own vacation. For most of your life, you’ve taken trips with your friends or with your family, but adulthood is the chance to do something for yourself. Study a new language.  Save your money. Pick a place. Go. See what happens next.

Updating your wardrobe. You know you’re on the verge of adulthood when you get rid of all those Abercrombie sweaters you wore in high school. Look through some fashion magazines and figure out your own style to wear in the office.

Making a commitment to something for longer than a year. Mine was a three-year subscription to The New Yorker. I probably won’t be living in the same apartment complex three years from now, but there’s something gratifying about making a long-term commitment to something that I enjoy. Plus, I saved $30.