Dear PR Graduates, In the next few weekends, thousands of you will cross the stage of your respective university and walk into the "real world." It can be a day filled with mixed feelings - excitement, relief, anxiety, anticipation... We've all been there.

There's no crystal ball to tell you exactly what starting a PR career will look like, but let me offer a few tips I wish I'd known when I walked the stage a decade ago.

1. The learning has just begun.  You may have walked out of your last classroom, but successful PR pros are committed to lifelong learning. In my career, I've had to become an expert on oil and gas, data centers, telecommunications, agriculture, utilities and more. If you like the constant pursuit of knowledge, you're in the right place.

When you start your first job, get ready to be an active learner. Ask questions. Read trade magazines and newspapers. Pick up a new book. Not only will it pay off at work, you can carry a conversation with just about anyone.

2. Your schedule will be rocked.  Gone are the days of Fridays free from class, 10 a.m. start times and afternoon naps. PR is more than a 9-5 job - but there's also room for work-life balance. Find a routine that works for you (and your employer).

Are you an early bird? Come in before everyone else to get a jump on the day. Work better when you have a break to clear your mind? See if your boss is cool with you taking a break to go exercise in the afternoon.

3. Invest in yourself.  Several people (parents, teachers, family, friends) have invested a lot of time (and probably money) to get you here. Now it's time to invest in yourself.

Take the job that may pay less now but gives huge career potential. Be willing to pitch in for professional development opportunities. Consider squirreling away some cash for retirement.

 

Most of all, enjoy this time. You've passed a major milestone, and you're ready to start the next chapter of your story. Take a minute to look back on all you've accomplished, and then look forward to all that's to come.

Congratulations and job well done,

A Nostalgic PR Pro

 

Photo by Penn State via Flickr