Life after graduation can be a scary place, especially as a PR major. Thankfully, the Young PRofessionals series is here to help answer the hard questions. Olivia Adams, brand manager for Come Recommended, graduated in 2014. Here's what she had to say about life as a recent grad working in the digital space:
What did your post-grad job search look like?
My post-grad job search was a little different from most PR students. At the end of my junior year of college, I accepted a virtual internship with a digital PR and content marketing agency called Come Recommended, where I worked as a content creator trainee. I worked there the entire summer and my entire senior year. When March rolled around, I was offered a full-time position as their brand manager.
What does your daily routine at the office look like?
Since I work from home, my daily routine at the office is very unique. I have a home office where I do most of my work. My work day typically starts around 7 a.m. and I work until 3 p.m. As the brand manager for Come Recommended, I'm responsible for creating content for our blogs and managing the social media accounts for our agency. I typically write about two to three blog posts per day and spend the rest of my time doing research or monitoring social media.
What is your favorite aspect of the job?
What I love is that I get to use my creative juices daily. I'm responsible for coming up with content ideas for every piece I write, so I get a lot of freedom to use my creativity. I also love the people I work with. Although we're all working across the Midwest and East Coast, I feel close to them because we talk daily through Skype and keep in touch on social media. Finally, the flexibility that comes with working from home is amazing, too! It's nice being able to break away from work for an hour to meet a friend for coffee or take my dog, Molly, for a walk!
What aspects of the industry did college leave out?
Although I felt very prepared leaving the public relations program at Ferris State University, I thought I could of learned more about the data/analytics side of social media and content marketing. Ferris State PR definitely gave me the writing skills needed to become a strong writer, but I didn't full understand concepts such as SEO and link building. I had to learn about the science behind social media and content marketing from my current employer.
What are the challenges of your job?
My current position definitely brings many rewards and challenges. Since I work from home, I have to hold myself accountable for deadlines and projects. While my boss checks in with me throughout the day, I have to make sure I'm keeping track of time and not taking too long to complete projects. Procrastination can become a hard battle to fight when I get "writer's block" or simply can't get myself to focus on a piece. As a writer, you're forced to keep your creative switch on 100 percent of the time. Despite this "brain drain" I sometimes experience, I've been able to fight it by working during my most productive hours of the day and taking mini-breaks.
How about the rewards?
Aside from the challenges that come with the position, there are definitely some rewards. I'd have to say the most rewarding aspect of the job is when a blog post or article I write goes viral. For example, I've written and ghostwritten multiple pieces that have received 100,000+ hits on LinkedIn. It's pretty cool seeing something you write get so much attention online! I'd have to say the other rewarding part of this job is the fact I have 300+ blog posts and articles for my portfolio. It's been wonderful to gain so much writing experience so early in my career.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced going from college to the professional world?
I think the biggest challenge about transitioning into the professional world is keeping up with my networks and always meeting new people. Especially when you move to a new city, like I did, it can be difficult to meet new people and build your network. Working from home has been somewhat challenging because I have to push myself to get to professional events. Although this has been a little challenging, I've been able to get involved with professional networking organizations in Grand Rapids, MI and get involved with nonprofits I'm passionate about.
What advice do you have for aspiring professionals?
I think the most important thing PR students and new professionals need to remember is they have a long time to build a successful career and reach their dreams. I think many of us fall into the trap of finding our "dream job" right out of college and become discouraged when we can't make that goal happen. While some of us get lucky enough to find that dream job right out of college, for most of us, it still takes time. Even if your first job is a position that doesn't remotely relate to your dream job, don't get discouraged. Remember to work hard and continuously build your network.
How do you stay connected with the industry and news?
I read a lot of PR, content marketing, and social media blogs to learn about industry news and trends. Some of my favorite blogs include the Buffer Blog, Social Media Today, and CoSchedule's blog. Aside from reading, I also try to stay involved with social media by participating in Twitter chats and connecting with professionals online.
Bonus: What’s your favorite coffee shop in Grand Rapids?
Without a doubt, Kava House is my favorite coffee shop in Grand Rapids. It has super yummy drinks and a great atmosphere for creatives!