If We Had Known Then What We Know Now

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MP&F professionals share advice for college students

“If you could go back to college, what would you do differently while in school?”

This was one of the many questions college students asked panelists and me during the University of Tennessee’s biennial PR Day. I was thrilled to participate and be invited as an alumna.

PR Day - Group photo 1_resized

MP&F’s Mara Naylor (left) with some of UT’s PR Day presenters.

After I finished talking with the students about the lessons I had learned so far throughout my professional journey, I was curious to see how my colleagues at MP&F would respond to the same questions. Here’s how they responded to the most popular questions students asked during PR Day:

What do you think are the most important traits or skills to be successful in your chosen field?

Alice“Those who choose to work in a PR agency setting must have a strong work ethic and be able to work well within a team structure. If you’re not willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done – whether it’s spray-painting shovels, driving a client four hours to an event, or staying late to help a co-worker finish a presentation – you won’t be successful.” – Alice Chapman, Partner

ErinMercer“Find a way to be curious about everything, whether it sounds exciting or not. Be like a sponge and absorb all information.” – Erin Mercer, Account Supervisor

Ashley M.“You have to be flexible. Clients change their minds, projects can shift focus, things are constantly evolving, and edits can come right before a deadline. Being flexible and open-minded is very important.” – Ashley Mock, Web/Graphic Designer

Michelle H.“Social-media-savvy people are valued as news becomes more and more digital. I believe it’s important to have a strong social media presence, to understand how different channels work best and to be able to analyze results from social media efforts.” – Michelle Heard, Assistant Account Executive

If you only had known then what you know now, what would you have done differently while in school or what would you tell students to do during their time in college?

Selby M.“I cannot stress enough the significance of networking. That is how I got all of my internships and my very first job, so it is important to take the time to reach out and follow up. Also, don’t stress about the little things. Obviously, getting a job is important; but things are constantly moving, and you’ll land on your feet.” – Selby McRae, Assistant Account Executive

Maddie T.“Be specific about the internships you choose. If you’re thinking about a career in public relations, pursue internships or attend information sessions with a diverse array of public relations agencies: small, large, corporate and nonprofit.” – Maddie Taylor, Account Executive

Audrey W.“Get to know your teachers, and have a mentor. You’re never too young to begin building your network, and you’ll never know what you’ll learn from them along the way. Also, be mindful of the big picture; this goes for projects and internships. Study the conceptual materials rather than solely memorizing facts.” – Audrey Webster, Assistant Account Executive

The advice the presenters and I shared with the students at PR Day touched on each of the suggestions my colleagues shared above. Networking, professional development, project management, continuous learning, social media … the list goes on and on. If you could relive your undergraduate experience, what would you do differently? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

 

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