As a PR student myself, I know it can be difficult to really get yourself out there and to really feel successful. Although I'm still a student too, here are my best pieces of advice for fellow PR students for this year:
1. Build up your presence online. I know this is pounded into us all the time, but it really is important. The more people you network with and connect with, the more chances and opportunities will come to you.
2. Build a blog/website. Blogging gets you noticed. There are tons of things to blog about in the news, in new technology, about case studies, about crises and about your own opinions. Start a blog and a website to showcase your materials and showcase yourself on the site.
3. With building your presence online comes watching yourself online. I know this is pounded into us constantly as well, but it really is so vital. No matter where you are or what you are doing, someone is watching what you are posting. It could be an employer, a student, a professor, etc., but someone is watching and it could affect an opportunity or an impression for the future.
4. Manage your social networks. Just because there are 32840932 social networks out there does not mean you necessarily have to have a presence on every single one of them. Should you be aware of the newest ones, especially the popular and successful ones? Yes, but you can know about them and not actually be on them. Join what you do and join the ones you actually like and intend to actually be on and stay on.
5. Gain experience! I think this is really the most important one. Apply for internships or some type of job experience. If you're like me and there don't seem to be a lot of jobs around you, look for virtual internships and jobs online. You can also create an opportunity for yourself by asking a local business if they would like to take you on as an intern too.
6. Go to networking events. Local PRSA Chapters and other associations have networking meetings, sometimes at least once a month. Put yourself out there and start networking at these events. You never know where one connection could take your or what friends you can make at these events.
7. Adopt a mentor. I have three mentors and they are absolutely invaluable to me. They are the most incredible and the most helpful people I know. They are there to guide me through the roughest situations and to correct me when I make errors. I fully suggest everyone adopt one and you can through networking with professionals!
8. Research companies. As we head into 2012, companies and organizations are changing. Research what types of companies and businesses you think you would like to work for and try to reach out to them to find out more information.
9. Do informational interviews. Great concept and very helpful. I think 99% of companies are willing to do them. In your research, call companies you think you might be interested in and ask if they do informational interviews or if you could do a tour of their business/agency.
10. When you're doing informational interviews, they will probably ask what experience you have or what you've been involved in. This is where student organizations come in! JOIN PRSSA or another PR, marketing, journalism or communication related organization. PRSSA has been the most beneficial organization to me and I've grown tremendously because of it. Join the local Chapter at your university or you can become an affiliate member if you do not have a Chapter.
** Apply for scholarships and awards through companies and organizations too!
11. Stay close with your professors. I know some professors can seem like they are on your case all the time, but quite a few of them are just looking out for your best interests and can actually be very cool and very awesome! I don't know what I would do without a few of mine, especially our PRSSA Adviser, and they have really helped me out a lot!
12. HAVE FUN!! Get creative and have fun with your college years!! Although it is important to get ahead in your career and to do all of the above, it's also so important to have fun too. Do something you have always wanted to do, take time to make a craft, spend time with friends, take up a new hobby, etc. Just make sure you are enjoying what you're doing :]
I really hope this posts helps you prepare for 2012! Always feel free to reach out if you have any questions about anything, especially anything PRSSA, at anytime!