Events of the past few weeks here in the Boston area have reminded me of one important thing as you start out on your search for either your first adventure in your chosen profession or the next step in your career.
I’ve done enough bashing of the MBTA on Twitter as well as on Facebook and elsewhere, so I’ll leave it at this…there are some companies that you really don’t want to work for…especially as their public relations representative.
I counsel my students at Curry College, where I head the Public Relations Concentration and teach most of the undergrad PR courses, to pay close attention to the first steps in a job search, like resume and cover letter construction, opportunity research (where are the jobs?), personal appearance, etc.
One thing I’ve been a little lax on is the importance of doing your homework when it comes to the actual places you’re applying to…who are they, how are they doing, how are they communicating….
I speak (sadly) from experience…two different jobs in the course of my career that, to put it politely, “did not go turn out well.”
The first was part my fault, part the company’s. I did some of my homework, but not enough. Reader’s Digest version…bad management for the most part; lack of clear business focus for the rest. I left the company very shortly before it self-destructed.
The second was entirely my fault. This was nearly 10 years since Fiasco # 1, and I should have known better. I simply did not do my homework.
I did basic research…very basic. The little birdie sitting on my shoulder kept saying “check ‘em out, Kirk.” But I was blinded by the excitement of potentially doing some really cool stuff for an organization that I thought I understood.
Bad choice # 1…I quit.
Bad choice # 2…I got fired.
Learned a TON from both experiences, most especially that really digging as much as possible into the background of an organization…AND the people who run that organization…is vital.
> DO your fact-checking online and elsewhere…reputation…operational success…the nuts and bolts.
> TALK to current and, if possible, former employees…what do they think of the organization or, if applicable, why did they leave?
After doing all this, focus your thoughts on how you might be able to help the organization in its communication initiatives. What skills and/or experience can you bring to the table?
If you’re just starting out in your career, you might be asking “what can I ‘bring to the table’?” And that is a legitimate question.
Look back on your internships…you DID do at least a couple of internships, didn’t you? What did you have a chance to do that you really enjoyed doing…and your internship supervisor thought was well done?
Build your case on those strengths…you’re just starting out…you’re not expected to be the world’s walking expert quite yet. But be prepared to tie your strengths to their requirements and needs.
Bottom line here…starting out on your career path or moving up doesn’t just happen. A bird doesn’t fly by and drop an opportunity on your head.
You have to do your homework…and choose carefully. Good luck!!