Graduate with confidence: Lessons to land your first PR job

Ethan Parry

Ethan Parry has made the transition as college student to a full-time PR professional. (Photo Credit: Universidad de San Martín de Porres)

It’s the day you’ve been dreaming of since freshman year. Those countless hours spent studying till 3 a.m. and writing 20-page research papers are about to pay off. Today’s outfit: a cap and gown. It’s your graduation day.

Finding that first job post-university life can be very intimidating. Emerging PR professional and BYU graduate Ethan Parry tells how he overcame the graduation stress of job hunting and finding.

As Parry progressed in the BYU public relations program, PRSSA was one of his most influential resources. Parry won the election and served on the PRSSA National Committee as the vice president of public relations for the 2014–2015 school year. This launched Parry into his internship in Washington D.C. and helped him gain many other experiences. As graduation neared, it was time to find a job, and Parry was ready.  

It can be stressful trying to manage a social life, school, work, etc. Job searching is like a full-time job. “My last semester of school I only took two classes,” Parry said. “I worked a full time job, served on the PRSSA National Committee, and yet somehow still found time to create countless resumes, revamp my website and print out business cards. Investing in the future was critical.”

Proactivity helped ease Parry’s stress more than anything else. He explained that public relations is all about being strategic and taking risks. It is important to network, followed up with others and to keep looking for opportunities every day.

(Parry at the Universidad de San Martín de Porres in Lima, Peru before presenting to faculty and PR students in PRSSA USMP chapter )

Parry poses for a photo at the Universidad de San Martín de Porres in Lima, Peru before presenting to faculty and PR students in PRSSA USMP chapter. (Photo Credit: Universidad de San Martín de Porres)

“I had faith and confidence in myself,” Parry said. “Something that I took with me as I graduated was our university motto, ‘Enter to learn, go forth to serve.’ I knew I had the skills necessary to excel at my new job and would represent BYU well.”

Parry was invited to speak this summer in Lima, Peru at the Universidad de San Martín de Porres to the public relations faculty and students. His advise helped encourage and inspire those within PR. Here is some of Parry’s advise to prepare for life after graduation.

  1. Find your passion. Get involved in what excites you the most.
  2. Never stop learning. Be a lifelong learner and continue to adapt and change. Be a sponge. Always look for professional improvement.
  3. Write, write, write. Always look for ways to improve your writing.
  4. Join PRSSA and PRSA. Join PRSSA as a student, and PRSA as a professional, go to industry events, meet people both inside and outside of the profession.
  5. Create your personal brand. Make sure everything you do represents you well. Paint the picture of how you want to be viewed online and offline.
  6. Learn graphic design. Today’s content needs to be visually appealing. Those public relations professionals who understand graphics design will excel.
  7. Be organized. Understand where to find information quickly and reliably.
  8. Stay up-to-date. Know what is trending and what is hot.
  9. Don’t waste time on things that don’t matter. In the PR world everything is done fast. You also need to be able to change your priorities at the drop of a dime.
  10. Ask questions. When you first start a job, don’t be afraid of asking questions. Companies understand there is a learning curve with every new employee.
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Ethan Parry poses with his Golden Key award at the 2015 PRSSA National Conference. (Photo courtesy of Ethan Parry)

Parry’s hard work landed him a job at Eastwick, a technology-focused communication agency in the San Francisco Bay area.

“I can’t believe how far I’ve come,” he said. “I feel that I’ve truly found my passion in PR. One of the most important principles I’ve learned in PR is to continue to learn.”

This last National PRSSA Conference Parry was awarded The National Gold Key award. Winners are those who excel and are outstanding in their academic study of public relations, have pursued ambitious professional development opportunities and are leaders in their PRSSA Chapter.

Preparing for post-grad life can be difficult, however, when you find a job that you truly love, it makes it all worth it. Keep believing in good things to come, keep interning, connecting and expanding your skills. Landing your first job isn’t as hard as it sounds.

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