Hello fellow bloggers, communication minded peeps, and young professionals! We are excited to bring to you CM’s first guest blogger. Every month we ask one communication professional to write about their respective field and journey. This week we are pleased to introduce a fellow alum and IMC professional from our own community, Claire Dillard!
Claire is a Communication Studies graduate of the University of North Carolina Wilmington. After graduating she worked as a contractor for Bon’s Eye Marketing (Wilmington, NC), accepting a full-time position as Marketing Coordinator—her current position— in fall 2012. We had the privilege of meeting Claire when she served as Caroline’s mentor in the UNCW Communication Studies Department mentor program, Project Protégé. Having benefited from her advice, we felt we needed to have her share it with the world! Claire is currently a member of Ladies’ Night, and is active in Port City Young Professionals and the Cape Fear UNCW Alumni Chapter.
Then & Now: A No-Longer-Entry-Level Professional’s Perspective
I am beyond excited (and flattered!) to have been asked to contribute to the Communication Minded blog. After agreeing to write a post, I thought long and hard about what I wanted to share with you. A fellow graduate of UNCW (class of ‘12), I’ve decided to use this as an excuse for me to reflect on what I have learned – and what I wish I would have known sooner – in my two-plus years as a working professional. Enjoy!
When first starting out, no one expects you to know exactly what you’re doing. I’ll be honest. Even after two years, I still have days when I don’t know what I’m doing – and that’s okay. College courses are great for building a foundation of knowledge, but there are many things you won’t learn until you experience them firsthand. I knew the difference between a pitch and a press release. I knew how to navigate various social media networks. But what tone is most appropriate when emailing a certain editor? How much will my client need to spend on Facebook Advertising in order to achieve the best ROI? In the field of Integrated Marketing Communication, things are always changing. Staying on top of the latest trends is a fulltime job itself. Don’t fret when you feel a bit lost or have to Google a few terms you think you should already know – it’s totally normal!
Start building your professional network ASAP. This is especially vital for those in the PR profession. If you are responsible for pitching stories to the media, chances are you will be communicating with the same editors, journalists and news content managers time and time again. Don’t stay hidden behind your emails or phone calls. Get to know these people on a personal and professional level. Ask them to join you for coffee. Building that trust and relationship makes all the difference. No matter your profession, take the time to attend networking functions. You never know who your next client, co-worker, or boss might be.
There is no homework in the “real world.”Not to say that you won’t ever need to complete tasks after-hours in certain situations, but it took months for me to get used to relaxing when I left the office. Throughout our typical 17 years of school (K-12 plus four years of undergrad) we have grown accustomed to the routine of attending class during the day and then returning home where we completed our additional assignments and projects. But once you begin a 9 to 5 job, your work hours actually do end at 5 p.m. It sounds so obvious (and awesome), yet it was by far one of the hardest changes for me to grow accustomed to. Few people warn you about this but new graduates must prepare to battle the anxiety that comes with always thinking, “Isn’t there something I should be doing right now?!”
Even when college is over, education is not. Whether you are a new graduate still searching for a job, a young professional or a C-suite executive, take advantage of opportunities to educate yourself. From webinars to online courses to industry publications, there is always something for me (and you) to learn from. Here are a few sources I highly recommend:
You can love your job without loving everything about your job. I love being creative. I love writing advertising copy and searching for the perfect photo to accompany it. I love interviewing clients and using their insight to construct industry trend pieces. But that’s not all I do. I complete tasks like gathering media kits from numerous outlets and developing spreadsheets with ad rate and deadline information – not my idea of fun. I have found that it’s all about a healthy balance. Are you more happy in your job than not? Are you able to complete tasks that prove your worth and test your ability more often than those that require little to no expertise? Make sure you enjoy what you do even if you don’t enjoy everything you have to do. No job is perfect but don’t let that stop you from finding one you love.
Want more from Claire? She loves talking to fellow (and aspiring) communication professionals.