As this year’s winner of the Daniel J. Edelman/PRSSA Award for Outstanding Public Relations Student, Jessica Colburn is a perfect example of how leadership and hard work can lead to incredible opportunities.
Over the past four years, Colburn has played the role of both a college student and a PR professional. Her accomplishments should serve as a blueprint for success to PR students everywhere. Colburn offered several tips for students looking to pursue a career in public relations:
Pursue as many diverse experiences as possible! While internships are important, Colburn noted that getting involved on your school’s campus is one of the most beneficial ways to learn.
“They know you’re a student, so it’s a safe place to make mistakes and grow,” she said. “Working for different campus organizations allowed me to gain confidence and improve my communication skills.”
2. Volunteer Activities
Participating in volunteer activities is an important part of acquiring professional experience. Offering help where you see a need can oftentimes turn into an opportunity in the future.
Jessica said her PR internship at Alabama Lunabotics began as volunteer work. “I reached out to the organization and started giving public relations advice before I became of a member of the team,” she said.
Networking with professionals in the field, and following through with these connections, is paramount to landing internships and jobs, especially in the PR industry. Colburn said that someone with whom you initiated a conversation or helped once could be the person who helps you jump forward in your career.
“I was able to gain media coverage for the LessThanUThink campaign’s PSA that appeared on screen at the 2013 BCS National Championship. I followed a Washington Times columnist on Twitter and he invited me to connect on LinkedIn,” she said. “Because I had reached out to him in the past and initiated the relationship, he let me write a guest post for his column and later featured me in his new Twitter chat.”
As this year’s Edelman/PRSSA award winner, Colburn will receive $2,500 and a three-month paid internship in one of Edelman’s U.S. offices.
This article was written for Culpwrit by Shelby Calambokidis, student editor and writer for Platform Magazine, the online PR magazine publisehd by students at the University of Alabama.