By Brooke Beatty
Four years ago, I knew about ten percent of the public relations enigma. My vantage point started with Sex and the City’s, Samantha Jones and ended with Scandal’s, Olivia Pope. However, after incredible classes at DePaul University, a flurry of internships and ultimately a full-time job, I have some advice for PR pros.
You intern to figure out what you don’t want to do
Four years ago my career goal was to work in politics. I dreamed of writing talking points for officials, preparing for big interviews and swaying public opinion. So, what did I do? I tested this theory and secured an internship on Capitol Hill. However, after one summer I knew politics was not for me.
This realization was scary, but I am thankful for the experience. This was not the only internship that helped me find clarity. Internships allow you to test the waters. I urge you to speak with team members and visualize yourself in their shoes.
If you are lucky, you will find that sweet internship. For me, this happened my senior year. After working for agencies and in politics, I decided to test out in-house public relations and things clicked. But, here’s the deal, I would never have tried on the in-house public relations shoe if the political one did not fit years earlier.
Study your passion
If you have the chance to double major or minor do not pass up the opportunity. Study something you care about. This might be the only time in your life that you can go to a class and learn about say, wine tasting or environmental justice.
One may assume, these classes will not help your public relations career. I could not disagree more. I decided to double major in Environmental Policy because it seemed interesting. Although these classes did not expose me to public relations specific skills, these classes made me a better writer and critical thinker. In all my job interviews I mentioned how the transferable skills in each of these classes could make me an asset to any team.
Mentorship is powerful
I am a product of mentors. If college taught me one thing it is that the world is filled with unknown and you cannot accomplish great things alone. If you find someone you admire, like a professor, advisor, boss, etc., pick their brain and invest in the relationship. In essence, public relations is maintaining relationships. Throughout college, I identified individuals who I admired and I built the relationship through emails, lunches and phone calls over time.
Mentorship is the principle facet of my professional development. This past winter, I was presented with two post-grad opportunities and it was my mentors who prepared me for the countless rounds of interviews and who advised me on my final decision. I urge you to find mentors whose counsel you value and trust.
College is one of the most exciting times in your life. Revel in the unknown and push yourself to take advantage of every opportunity. These are just a few of my many tips to maximize your four years. If you have more questions, please reach out I am always willing to pay it forward.
Brooke Beatty is a recent graduate of DePaul University and a Communications Leadership Development Program Associate at Lockheed Martin. She will spend the next two years rotating around the company in the areas of external and internal communications.