Starting a brand new career can be daunting, but it’s also exciting. If you enjoy writing, storytelling and being kept on your toes – you’re on the right path!
Here are 7 tips to get you on track:
1. Educate yourself
Enroll in a professional communications program to get your feet wet - weigh your options between a diploma and a degree. Perhaps you don’t have the option of going to school full time - explore online options that allow you to work while finishing school.
2. Marketing, public relations and/or advertising?
First you must understand the difference between marketing, advertising and PR – while they are often combined into one position, they play different roles. It’s your job to know when to apply each role. I view communications as an umbrella that covers marketing, advertising, and PR.
3. Create your personal brand
Getting experience can be difficult without, well, experience. So, how do you highlight your creative or technical writing skills? Talk about your passion online! Use platforms like Twitter to help demonstrate your social media writing skills. Aim to tweet three times a day when your audience is the most active. Before you start tweeting, ask yourself who and why people will be interested in your topic. If you’re not creating original content on your blog or website, use hashtags to find content your followers might be interested in. Get familiar with digital marketing and popular hosting platforms like Wordpress – regardless of which communications stream you choose, working knowledge of digital media will be an asset.
4. What do you love most about communications?
Take the time to research what type of professional communications you see yourself doing. For example, do you enjoy writing internal communications like newsletters, technical writing, or posting on social media? As the saying goes - if you find something you love doing, you’ll never have to work a day in your life.
If you are employed, let your organization know that you are interested in exploring the communications field. Tell them that you would appreciate the opportunity to listen in communications meetings or offer to take a communications team member out for coffee to see if they’re interested in sharing their story with you.
Attending events related to communications is not only a great way to build your network, but offers you an opportunity to brush up on your public speaking skills and learn more about the profession. Learn as much as you can about other people’s journeys, because you’ll most likely be able to get some useful advice and connections to help launch your own career.
After you take several classes and you feel comfortable with the knowledge you have learned so far – volunteer! Volunteer internally if you can, it’s a great way to show that you’re interested in your organization’s initiatives and want to learn more. That way, when a communications position opens up, you’re more likely to be considered. Volunteering externally is a great option too, especially if you are supporting a cause that’s dear to your heart. If you’re doing something you love for a cause that means something to you, it’s almost guaranteed that your creative juices will start flowing. There are a lot of non-profit organizations who cannot afford paid communications staff and rely on volunteers to help run their social media or write communications plans. Volunteering not only will you get some hands on experience that you can add to your portfolio, but this allows you to also get some communication references before you start working.
7. Show off your skills
Remember to start developing your portfolio early on so you have samples of work to show potential employers. Create an online network that highlights your skills on LinkedIn and/or create a website, even if you’re in the early stages of school and building your portfolio. As you start getting experience make sure you give and ask for endorsements on your projects.
That’s it! If you start practicing these 7 things you will have a greater chance of getting experience, finding employment faster, and meeting others who share your passion!