“Cheshire Puss…would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’
`That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat.
`I don’t much care where–‘ said Alice.
`Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’ said the Cat.
`–so long as I get somewhere,’ Alice added as an explanation.
`Oh, you’re sure to do that,’ said the Cat, `if you only walk long enough.’”
This is sooo similar to the conversations I’ve had over the years with students, previously at Curry College, now at The University of Tampa, who have come to me looking for suggestions on what they should be doing in preparation for their futures and how to get started.
I always try to emphasize, though, that, unlike the Cat, I’ve been in their shoes more than once in my own professional lifetime and am here, now, to help each and every one of them…hopefully…find the right road.
I get it. “What’s next?” is a scary question when you’re just starting out on your professional adventure. As the years and the experiences build up, you’ll have better reference points. But this is “Step One.” Deeep breath.
The bottom line here is “don’t be afraid to ask for help.” If you’re a student, start with your advisor or with the professor whose class you really enjoy and you feel like he or she actually has a clue when it comes to “real life.”
Or…and here’s a plug for becoming an active member of a pre-professional organization (for PR majors, it’s PRSSA with connections to the local PRSA chapter) and taking advantage of the learning and the networking opportunities that come with the package…put yourself out there to see and be seen!
But, most important…ASK QUESTIONS!
Over my own somewhat disorganized professional past, I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have had colleagues to whom I could turn when I had a question. For those of you who know me, this wasn’t easy…I’m a certified introvert and would much rather sit in my dark bedroom with my teddy bear than go out and actually talk to someone. But I knew in my heart-of-hearts that putting myself “out there” was the smart thing to do. So I did…and it has paid off countless times.
So take the initiative. Give some thought to what you think you would like to do and, then, decide who you want to start with for information.
Just remember that not every person is going to have the answer(s), so be prepared. And don’t hesitate, if the person to whom you are talking doesn’t seem to have exactly the answer(s) you want, to, first, ask if he or she knows someone else you could talk to. Or do some extra sleuthing yourself and find other possibilities.
It’s not always going to be a smooth process. There will be bumps in the road. But, in time, you will start getting a clearer idea of which “road” you want to take. And, although it may not always be the perfect direction, at least you will be moving…and that’s a good thing!
And, oh…by the way…enjoy the trip!