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How to Successfully Start Climbing the Corporate Ladder

How can you set yourself apart from others at your firm/company? What are some skills you need to learn in an internship/entry-level position in order to get promoted? What is the best way to approach your supervisor about a promotion/raise?

These are just a few of the questions posed to panelists, including myself, at a Public Relations Society of America San Diego/Imperial Counties chapter event for New Professionals (aka New Pros) last week. The audience was filled with eager beginners who were at the early stages of their PR careers, had yet to formally start a career in PR or were wrapping up their studies at local universities. Greg Block, director of communications for San Diego State University, Rebecca Buddingh, account coordinator at Allison+Partners, and I did our best to steer these newcomers in the right direction. Here’s a recap of some of the advice shared by the panelists:

  • Write. Write. Write. – Writing was unanimously declared an extremely important skill to develop. How do you bolster your writing? Practice. Read. Then practice some more.
  • Get used to working with journalists. Media relations is an essential component of effective public relations. Yes, it can be scary to pick up the phone and call someone you’ve never met to convince them to write a story about your client, but to get coverage, you need to earn it. When asked, “what would you say to an intern who was scared of picking up the phone and pitching media?” Greg and I declared in unison: “Get over it.”
  • Don’t be afraid to speak up. Be inquisitive. Ask questions. Contribute ideas. Speaking up shows enthusiasm and curiosity to better understand the business. Engagement will help you stand out to your superiors. In the same vein, don’t be afraid to speak up if you’re interested in a full-time position with a company.
  • Work hard. Nothing will set you apart from other interns or employees more than your work. Go above and beyond to deliver. Don’t complain. When it’s time to ask for a raise or a promotion, your past work needs to do most of the talking for you. Be a valuable contributor to the team and it won’t go unnoticed.
  • Be a sponge. Learn as much as you can. Engage in professional development by joining professional organizations, attending conferences, participating in webinars and reading case studies. Ask to sit in on strategy sessions or listen to a colleague pitch media. Absorb as much information as you can and learn from those around you.

The attendees at last week’s PRSA event are already a step ahead of others because they chose to put themselves out there and attend a professional development and networking event. That’s the kind of drive employers want to see in interns and entry level employees. What other skills would you recommend budding PR pros develop at the beginning of their careers? What is your general advice for any young person entering the business world? Leave a comment below and we’ll be sure to pass it along to the New Pros group.

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