The Career Development Day put on by PRSA St. Louis and hosted by the SIUE PRSSA Chapter, offered multiple professional development opportunities for current students, young professionals, seasoned professionals with years of experience and even educators in communication disciplines.
As mentioned last week, the morning keynote speaker was Danny Rubin. Rubin conducted an interactive writing workshop using one of the templates in his new book, “Wait, How Do I Write This Email?” Participants learned how to tell their own stories in their cover letters and professional bios incorporating Rubin’s advice of, “Don’t SAY you are creative and hard-working, tell the things you’ve done that SHOW you are creative and hard-working.”
A “Young Pros” panel gave participants a chance to ask questions and learn from those who “not so long ago” were sitting on the other side of the table.
Showing initiative, keeping up with trends and always taking time to talk with the speaker (hint to ACS 213 students) were some of the tips shared by these successful young professionals. They also emphasized some of the most important hard skills they have benefited from in their early careers. A few they mentioned included:
- Know how to write: This includes understanding search engine optimization
- Know Excel: Used a lot in collecting and reporting data.
- Know analytics: You need to know how to communicate ROI…and as asked at the conference, “What is ROI?” Return on Investment, and that is what your clients are going to want to see.
The luncheon keynote speaker was Angela LaRocca, brand manager at Unidev. She also serves on UMSL’s Digital Marketing Advisory Board and is a board member for the American Marketing Association’s St. Louis Chapter.
LaRocca shared her enthusiastic advice that she obviously lives by: Be fearless; be persistent; be creative and have fun…all while talking to people who are doing what you want to do. Maybe you’ll want to venture over to a Venture Cafe Gathering?
There was also a media panel with professionals sharing advice on the best way to pitch to the media. As we all know, there really isn’t a news cycle anymore. Therefore, the professionals emphasized the importance of being in the moment. Staying tuned in to what is happening around you, gives you opportunities to piggyback on a topic using your client’s story. Julie Flory, assistant vice chancellor for campus communications at Washington University, gave an example of how they pitched one of their professors as an expert to talk on the issue between iPhone privacy and the current demands of the FBI. The story got picked up by several media outlets including USA Today.
Geoff Goldman, director of media relations for Fox Sports Midwest, also encouraged participants to not be intimidated by the sports/entertainment industry. Goldman said the opportunities are there; candidates just need to bring their “A” game.
- Be a problem solver
- Bring in multiple skills
- Know the business side of the business
And Kenya Vaughn, web editor for stlamerican.com and arts editor at St. Louis American Newspaper, said one of the best ways to break into the industry is to be a great intern. Don’t just do the bare minimum.
The Career Development Day wrapped up with professional roundtables. Participants had the opportunity for one-on-one conversations with several different industry professionals. I had the opportunity to talk with Abby Theban, who shared some great internship advice including the importance of knowing AP Style rules and how to write a news release. She said for her internship interview at FleishmanHillard, the writing test took place before she sat down for the actual interview. She also said poor grammar can quickly weed out candidates. So maybe brush up on your Schoolhouse Rock…”Lolly, lolly, lolly, get your adverbs here!”
Theban recently shared more tips in a PRSA St. Louis blog post. It’s advice you have heard before, but maybe hearing it from a
successful young professional will catch your attention more than hearing it from a professor or reading it in a textbook. Welcome to the real world.
Career Development Day was a tremendous success, and I was glad to see several SIUE students, in and outside the communication disciplines, take advantage of it. I would also be remiss if I did not acknowledge the following PRSSA Chapter members for their contributions toward the success of this event.
Dylan Stanley: logistics coordinator
Desiree Bainbridge: blogger
McKenzi McClain: graphic designer
Simmonne Bolla: photographer
Thank you all for your willingness to step up and “do more than the bare minimum!”
Pull up a chair and let’s talk.