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7 Tips for Graduates: Spotlight on Communications Careers



In a year where outside experiences were hard to come by, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to contribute my time and share expertise with students interested in Communications careers.


Here are some tips for graduates shared in the University School of Milwaukee College Guidance webinar from myself and fellow USM Alumni panelists (bios below):


1) Networking is a MUST. Reliable sources were at the heart of Marcia Slater Johnson’s esteemed journalism career. Get your LinkedIn Profile refreshed and connect with your family’s circle now to open the door for future opportunities.


By the way, if you need help optimizing your LinkedIn profile, then let me know! I attended a national digital skills seminar on optimizing your LinkedIn and have helped >75 people from Coordinators to CEOs revive their profiles.


2) Understand all things digital. One of the things Angela Pitman Taylor loves about the Public Relations (PR) industry is how no two days are the same. In the practice of reputation management, storytelling is king. You must be an effective storyteller across all channels in order to be effective in the super dynamic PR industry.


Further, in order to make all of today’s digital platforms perform and work cohesively with your brand’s marketing strategies; you need to have an in-depth understanding of the digital landscape.


3) Say yes to everything when you’re starting out. Some of the best experiences I had early on in agency life in Chicago were acquired by raising my hand to help with literally anything (like being on a new business pitch team, working a million hours, and WINNING the pitch,) asking thoughtful questions, soaking up information like a sponge, and basically doing anything and everything to further your understanding your clients and their audiences.


4) Demonstrate results. Metrics are sticky. Case studies, testimonials, and proof points that underscore the success of your product or service are gold. There is a need for good storytellers (aka writers) to get complex content written succinctly and implemented efficiently. The webinar was 36 minutes. Here I am distilling it down to a 3-minute, < 800 word read with shameless plugs masterfully weaved in. Anyone can ramble on for pages and pages. Getting to the point and demonstrating the value you offer in 600 words? Easier said than done.


6) Internships are weighed heavily. Angela offered the following insight: many internships are paid but you can get a lot of experience wearing many hats in the communications industry by volunteering your time for a non-profit organization. Your experience doesn’t necessarily have to be with a corporate company or an agency in order for it to “count.” Companies and agencies alike would place great value on experience in a non-profit.


7) Give back. When you get the internship (yay!!), remember you are not just there to get coffee as it’s often portrayed in movies (although I did love those scenes in Devil Wears Prada haha). In addition to completing your tasks, bring fresh ideas and offer them to the team. After you have absorbed some of the challenges and opportunities within your team, speak up! Suggest things to provide value, helping overcome obstacles or improve processes. Interns see the world differently than people who have been at the company for 20+ years. Don’t get scared off by the pace. It comes with the territory.


BONUS TIP: Communicate :) (You didn’t really think the panel of Communications professionals would leave this one out, did you?) Seriously though, having excellent, successful interpersonal communication will help you align on expectations, ensure clarity on next steps, and help you be in lock step with your team.


If you’re looking for the long version, you can watch a recording of the panel here.


Also, here are my fellow panelists’ (impressive!) bios:


Marcia Slater Johnston is a freelance journalist whose articles have appeared in the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Tribune Magazine, The Chicago Daily News, Chicago Today, Crain’s Chicago Business, Catholic Digest, New York Daily News and other publications. She is a Milwaukee University School graduate of 1960. She is the winner of numerous awards.


Angela Pittman Taylor is the Public Relations Manager for Robert W. Baird & Co. Angela is directly responsible for the overall success and ROI of Baird’s significant commitment to public relations capabilities across its global footprint. She also leads Baird's Chicago-area brand strategy and co-leads the firm’s Inclusion & Diversity marketing strategy. She is the winner of numerous awards.


As for me, my bio is here.


What advice would you give to a new graduate interested in Communications? DM, tweet or email me and I will share with your credit to my circle, including the ever growing #MarketingTwitter


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