Things I Wish I Had Known In College

Janet Krueger,  State and Local Tax Partner, Chicago, PricewaterhouseCoopers, contributes the fifth post of a 6-part series by a panel of successful women graduates of Northern Illinois University who discuss the topic:  Lessons from the Front:  If We’d Only Known this Back Then.

   Janet Krueger 

Learn to write.  Although many times we avoid classes or subjects we do not like or do well at.  There are some areas that we need to learn or improve that will benefit us in the future.  I was always more of a numbers/mathematical person and often avoided any class that involved extensive writing.  I was not as successful in law school in avoiding those types of classes, since writing was required in every class.  Take those writing classes and force yourself to learn and improve in those areas where you feel you have weaknesses.

Politics — how do they work for you.  Politics in professional organizations is hard to define but usually is related to the influence, impact and your relationship with certain individuals.  Politics and their importance was  something I never thought of or appreciated in college.  My father worked at Standard Oil and the only thing we really knew about politics from that experience is that you had martinis at lunch.  Obviously, in those days, it was appropriate. 

I wish I was more aware of politics and what it meant when I was at Northern.  Politics are everywhere – teams, sororities, etc.  Main thing is to be aware of them – don’t necessarily have to participate in them but it is important to figure out where you fit and how they may or may not benefit you in your career.  You may want to speak with someone you trust about politics in the organization and how you can use them to enhance your career development.

Importance of Networking and socializing.  Although you may have a very full day and very little time, it is important to set aside time to get to know others in your organization on a personal level.  The connectivity you gain from those casual or non-business related conversations can prove to be invaluable.  There is a new sense of respect and connection that is achieved through getting to know someone on a personal basis.   You may learn something then that will benefit you in the future when you need their help.  People truly like to help other people. 

Remember this – it will serve you well: you never know who your boss may ultimately be down the road and a relationship that you did not think much of now may benefit you in the future.  Relationships you develop are helpful in whatever your profession.  To enhance or grow your relationships expand your network by joining organizations, getting involved in charity events or volunteering to take the lead in company initiatives.

2 thoughts on “Things I Wish I Had Known In College

  1. Hello. I am a Public Relations major at Georgia Southern University and I appreciate the advice you have provided. I am currently taking Intro to Public Relations and am beginning to familiarize myself with the field. I completely understand the necessity of learning to write. Although I’ve always enjoyed writing and find it fairly easy to get creative with it, I find difficulty in pleasing different professors’ writing styles. It seems as though because every professor is different, there is no true uniform best way to write. In regards to your discussion of politics, I really had not considered the direct importance of politics in relation to success with PR. Understanding someone’s or a corporation’s political background can help you read a person, in a sense. And lastly, to comment on Networking- of course, that is a vital skill in PR. Over the past few years with looking ahead for my personal career goals and current part-time jobs, networking has helped me to travel to conferences and meet future employers. Thank you for the advice!

  2. Hi Janet! Thanks for the great information. I just started my first job and agree that building relationships with your colleagues plays a vital role in the work environment. Great advice!

    I also asked this question to a few pr professionals who reviewed my portfolio before graduation. Here’s what they said:

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