By Heather Pruitt
At the beginning of 2017, I was given the opportunity to become a Group Leader as a part of Eastern Michigan University’s Orientation program. As someone who loves interacting with people, and has a passion for Eastern, working this job has become one of my favorite things to do.
However, my favorite part about being an Orientation Group Leader is getting to know the incoming students. I am excited for them to find their place at Eastern, just as I have found mine, and to start writing their own story while they’re at college.
I enjoy talking with all students at FastTrack (the segment of orientation where students register for classes) but nothing gets me more excited than meeting a future PR major. Even though I have only encountered a handful, I am incredibly excited for everything that they are about to experience when they start PR at EMU.
While I am excited to see the students start their journey at Eastern, there is nothing that I want to do more than to tell them everything I wish I had known when I started. But with one short day, it can be a little intense for incoming students to register for classes, get their first taste of college, and be bombarded with advice about their program all in one day. So I decided to create a list of the six things I wish I knew about PR as an incoming freshman.
Learn to love writing.
When I started the program, I expected to exclusively be planning events, posting on social media, and standing up in front of my class giving presentations about the future of Facebook. While these aspects are apart of the Public Relations program, I was in the dark about how important writing is in the world of PR. Press releases, feature articles, crafting newsletters, and blog posts, are all incredibly important parts of PR. So learn to love writing, learn to love your writing, because it will become an important part of your life.
Start networking from the beginning
Within the first few weeks of starting my freshman year, I decided to join PRSSA. I’ll be honest- joining PRSSA freaked me out because I had to learn to network and get acclimated to college life. How was I, an 18-year-old, who was stressed about finding new friends, supposed to network with professionals for a career that was years away? I found that having someone in the program who I felt comfortable asking questions to, and getting help from, was reassuring. They can help ease any worries you have about entering the world of PR. Additionally, the earlier your start networking, the more people you come in contact with, which can benefit you in the long run.
Joining PRSSA is great way to start networking and to learn about PR. It allows you to learn how to network, as well as give you information about subjects that are relevant to the PR world. Joining PRSSA also gives you the chance for great leadership opportunities in and out of the organization.
Invest in a ‘professional outfit’
When I started college, I had no idea what clothes would identify as ‘business casual’. I didn’t even know when or why I would need them! I found that it is important to invest in clothing that is appropriate for the occasion. While it may not be frequent when you start college, there will be occasions that require you to dress in business casual and possibly business professional. Make sure that you are prepared and have outfits that fit criteria. Having the wrong outfit can leave the wrong impression! However, if you are unsure about what outfits are business casual or business professional, there are lots of ideas on Pinterest!
Make time to do a little PR everyday.
Make an investment to look at a PR blog a few times a week to stay updated with the ever changing world of PR. There are some professors who like to use current events as teaching points for their classes. When you are up to date, it gives you an advantage to speak up in class, and really helps fuel class discussions. Additionally, if you don’t have a lot of time I recommend subscribing to Help A Reporter Out (HARO). HARO is an online database that helps journalists with upcoming stories. They send you emails several times a day with topics that are relevant. This is a great way to stay updated on current trends.
Set out a timeline of how you want things to go.
It is one thing to know that there are goals you want to accomplish in college, however, it is another thing to achieve those goals. Create a timeline of what you want to do in your college career, and set dates to accomplish those goals by.