Students: How to be PRoactive

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PR students rejoice, this post is for you.

(Note: Anyone else that’s come along for the ride, Hi…)

Ah, university. Isn’t it amazing?

(Note: Be sure not to dwell on debt, deadlines and death by Domino’s)

We’re all on a journey that – much like a supermarket conveyor belt you’re loading up – goes far too fast.

And then as quickly as it started, you’re sent out of the shop with your groceries and the receipt – if you catch my drift.

Yes… the receipt is your degree. Can’t a blogger make analogies these days?

For this reason alone, it’s crucial for students – and particularly those in PR – to be proactive throughout their course. The communications industry is highly competitive and unlike many career paths, a specialised degree isn’t necessary (although truthfully, can be preferred). 

I’ve pulled together a few of the top tips that I’ve discovered over my three years and wished I knew from the off.

You’re welcome, by the way. 

  1. Don’t get complacent: Taking into account university term times and that delicious month off for Christmas, those three years at university (or 36 months for those converting) actually amount to about 24 months. You’ve lost a year before you even start. Crazy huh? By all means relax on your months off, but don’t for a second believe you’ve got ‘loads of term time’ because it goes quick.
  2. Get LinkedIn: While the slogan ‘professional social network’ doesn’t sound like a barrel of laughs (and a place for memes this isn’t), LinkedIn is an essential tool for students to present their experience and appeal to potential employers, especially in an increasingly digital world. Since joining 18 months ago, my connections online have led to two placements – so it’s definitely worth your time.
  3. Update your CV regularly: While LinkedIn is certainly helpful in terms of online CV building, updating a paper copy regularly will help you when it comes to applying for jobs and grad-schemes. If you’re stuck, then contact your SU – at some point throughout the year, there will be a CV building exercise somewhere. In the meantime, stick to two-sides of A4 with concise (but interesting) facts.
  4. Stay engaged: Relationships are key to successful careers – BASIC DEFINITION OF PR – and it’s important for you to utilise them when necessary. Connect or follow some of your career idols online and start a conversation, it’s good to start building a reputation for yourself as an outgoing and interesting individual before you graduate because you’ll stand out. It takes time though – trust me. If you need a couple of hints of where to start, talk to your course-mates and lecturers.
  5. Work Experience is key: Sure, you could nail your course and come out with a 1st class degree. But, if you haven’t gained a single bit of work experience in your three years at uni – was it worth it? Because if were brutally honest here and there were two job applicants in front of me – one academically excellent and the other well applied in the field – I know which I’d pick. Get in touch with local businesses, whether it be agencies, charities or in-house communications teams and ask them to take you on for a couple of weeks. Yes, you’ll probably be working for free – but the skills you’ll learn and the experience you’ll gain are quite simply priceless.
  6. Join an academic society: It might not be as cool as snow-sports, or even as kooky as Quidditch (Yes, UWE has one of those..) but academic societies are a great way to meet people on the same wavelength as you, deliver events onto a professional platform and enjoy the odd drink or two. What’s not to like? My role as the VP for the UWE PR Society has taught me so much and helped me to further develop my skills before graduating. While it’s an added responsibility for me, you can still enjoy the benefits without taking on a committee role (I’d recommend doing so though).
  7. Blog: In a world that’s turning faster than ever, my last point might just tick you off. ‘How on earth am I going to find time to do that?’ I hear you say. Make time. In advance of every placement I’ve undertaken, I’ve been asked for the URL of my blog. And while I’m not as consistent as I’d like, the comments have been positive. The sheer fact that you’re actively trying to improve your writing and be interested in a topic is admirable. Give it a try, it’s easier than it looks.

And while I’m not trying to lecture you – quite the opposite in fact – I really hope that some of the things I’ve suggested help you out. For the most-part, university is a preparation for your career and you’d be silly to bury your head in the sand.

Opportunities are always there for the taking, you just have to be looking in the right places.

(Note: I joined Bloglovin this week – still unsure how it works – so feel free to follow me on the link below).

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