The first two months in my first job as a PR account coordinator were pretty darn rough. I wasn't getting the work done in the way it needed to be done. For whatever reason, I just wasn't getting what it meant to do the job and my work was shoddy. I could sense my superiors were a tad annoyed with me, but I was nervous and not asking for help. I had several PR internships prior to this job, but for whatever reason, I wasn't acting like I was ready for this. I was put on a 90 day plan -- the thing about 90 plans is that you have 90 days to get dramatically better at your job or you're done!
I called my dad that night to tell him what happened. I was pretty shaken up. I was living in a small San Francisco apartment that commanded HALF of my paycheck. If I lost that job, I'd certainly have to move home. Crying, I asked my dad what I should do about the situation. He asked me, "what are they paying you a salary to do?" And I answered, rattling off the list of my tasks. Then he said, "quit the crying and do the damn job they are paying you to do."
It might have sounded insensitive, but it's the reality check that ultimately lit my fire to turn it all around. I set aside the fear of the 90 days counting down, worked extremely hard, and made it known that I was invested. I shocked myself by how much I learned and what I was capable of, and I look back on it now as one of the most amazing, meaningful experiences. Oh, and I didn't get fired in the end :-)
Hi Carli-- RIGHT ON going for a career in PR! It's challenging, fast-paced, and it can be very enriching and personally rewarding.
I agree with Chris -- he provided some awesome feedback.
One more idea would be to add more detail around what you've learned in your PR studies -- it will help the hiring manager understand the skills you have and how they relate to the PR internship. Under "Bachelor of Arts, Public Relations & Marketing" add bullet points around what you've learned to do. Have you learned how to write a press pitch? Pitch the media? Build a media list? Coordinate interviews? Draft a press release or blog post? Etc.
After you've had an internship or two, you can remove these bullet points and focus on listing the accomplishments achieved during your internship on your resume, but since you're just starting out, the hiring manager might be interested in some of the PR skills you've learned through your studies.
The moment when you drop down on your knees with a monumental realization that you want to be an engineer, a marketer, a doctor, a you-name-it...isn't coming. Don't worry about picking a career path or determining a "what you want to do" with your life. If you don't know now, thinking about it isn't going to help you come to that realization. Simply doing will help you arrive at a sense of what you want and don't want.
Here's why I recommend you start now. It's not about how waiting will look to your future employer. You need to start now because by posing this question to the universe you've admitted that you have a decision that you need to make - and that decision can be made now or later - but you're only delaying making it by "coasting". Why not free yourself of the mental anguish that not taking action brings about?
Here are some thoughts on where to start:
1) Forget passion - follow your curiosity instead. Author Liz Gilbert talks a bunch about this in her book on creativity called Big Magic. We've heard since childhood to follow our passion, but not everyone is passionate about something. Not passionate about - anything?! That's freakin' okay! Gilbert argues it's pretty messed up career and creative advice to be told to "follow our passion," and I couldn't agree more. She argues replace "passion" with "curiosity", and get to following the breadcrumbs :-) No doubt you're curious about some things more than others. Try writing out all of the things that you'd like to know more about. Think back on your life in the last year - what piqued your interest? What could you stand knowing more about? A quick examination of what makes you feel something should provide some clues on where to point your arrow with your job search.
2) Now's the time to learn, not earn. Once you've nailed down some potential industries of interest or roles of interest based on your curiosities, look for entry-level roles and internships that will provide you with the greatest opportunity to learn - from the team, from the work, from the company. Now isn't the time to prioritize what you earn over what you can learn -- if you pick a role based on what you can earn alone and thwart following curiosities, you're likely going to want out pretty quick. If you can find a job with a high ceiling for learning AND earning, well, that's wonderful!
3) Your first job won't be your last, so just pick one. Your future employer knows that as a new grad, you will likely only invest 1-2 years in the company before moving to your next. So don't worry about needing to think "long-term" with your first job or you'll add more burden to the decision-making process than it requires. So pick a role and don't worry if you end up making a "bad choice". There really isn’t a bad choice if you're learning and gaining a better understanding of what you want and don’t want.
The longer you wait, the longer you're just standing in your own way. Good luck out there!
Being a student assistant and taking on other campus jobs are actually excellent ways to prepare yourself for post-grad internships and a full-time career job. You're using and building a host of skills working these on-campus jobs, and you can showcase your experience and the responsibilities you had on your resume. Think your plan of stacking up on on-campus jobs and going after a computer science internship sounds really solid. Can you join the computer science club now? That might be something to prioritize over an on-campus gig since it's directly relevant to your desired career direction...