If I told you five years ago that you would uproot your life and move to a “real city” on a whim, would you believe me? Meh, probably not. I’m living it right now and, most days, it’s still unbelievable. You have so much to be proud of, and I hope you remember that even on the toughest days.
Life after college is a whirlwind. You will become roommates with your parents for a short time, move to a foreign place where you know no one and cannot grasp the concept of paying to park, live with a “circus family” and work five billion jobs before you land a “real one.” Like I said, a total whirlwind. But just as all good things come to those who wait (and work their asses off), opportunities to flex your PR muscles will come along. Are you ready for them?
Here are a few pointers to better prepare yourself for life in the real world:
Meet people. Learn from them. All of them.
Professional networking is essential to PR success. Almost everyone in the business world knows that. However, you will meet other people outside of “business” that will be placed in your life for a reason. Is that idea completely cliché? Yes. Does that make it any less important? No. Seek these relationships and foster them. Whether they are a new roommate, new friend or someone you sit next to on the bus for a half-hour, they will have something to share with you. Just because it isn’t “business” doesn’t mean there are not lessons to be learned. The personal experiences and knowledge of others will translate to your professional career, providing perspective and unique approaches to make your transition from student to entry-level to professional a smooth one.
Success = Sacrifice.
Not everyone will have recruiters banging down their apartment door immediately following college graduation. This is not pessimism; it is reality. The world of public relations is highly competitive, and your door will remain untouched for a few months. Why? Because you’re too busy banging down the doors of others. PR encompasses your ability to be personally and professionally proactive. Opportunity is not born; it is made. You may have to accept a few “duds” or work some odd jobs to make ends meet while gaining experience through unpaid internships or apprenticeships. Your ability to make sacrifices early on will teach you how to appreciate the success it spawns and speak volumes about your character.
Remember to play hard.
PR never sleeps. Sometimes it doesn’t eat or leave its desk for twelve hours, either. It is hard work and dedication, long days and longer nights. But that is the thrill of it—a nonstop, never the same, perpetual state of chaos thrill. Just as you work hard, you must also play hard. When the opportunity for “you” time is presented, take advantage of it. Go on adventures, revisit old stomping grounds (FIREUPCHIPS!), scream every lyric to every ‘90s song ever created ever and laugh until your stomach explodes. You are only 22, after all. Your ability to play hard will fuel the fire to work harder, pushing you forward in your career and propelling you to that dream you’ve always, well, dreamed of.
In closing, the beautiful words of your favorite author: “Enjoy it. Because it’s happening.”
Big Telly out.