I graduated college in 2002, just after the burst of the Dotcom Bubble and the Enron scandal.
The stock market was in a downturn, consumer confidence was low, and there was a glut in the job market. Here we are in 2020 amid a global pandemic with unemployment near 8% — which makes graduating in 2002 seem like a breeze in comparison.
Graduating in the throes of a tough economy can teach you a lot. I quickly learned that if I wanted to land a job in PR and communications, I needed to hustle and get creative. As young communication professionals forge their careers in the fires of 2020 and beyond, consider these tips:
Learn to network. You can’t be shy, timid or prideful in this regard. Ask family and friends to introduce you to people in the communications industry. Reach out to successful people you admire. Make it easy for others to make introductions on your behalf. Include your resume and LinkedIn profile, along with a brief request your colleague can send to their contacts.
Meet people virtually. Set up a free Zoom account, and schedule short calls with communications professionals to learn about their career and gain tips on how to improve your own. Don’t be afraid to ask if they know of anyone hiring. Send a thank-you note and a LinkedIn request following each meeting.
Invest in yourself. Attend industry events, submit your work to Awards programs, and join professional organizations such as IABC and PRSA. Maximize your memberships by networking at events, asking questions and requesting to meet with leaders in your specific field or desired niche.
Volunteer time and expertise. If you can’t obtain a full-time role in your preferred industry, volunteer in professional organizations or join communications committees for nonprofits so you can practice your craft and network.
While in college in 2001, I volunteered as a communications specialist for the local Red Cross chapter following the aftermath of 9/11. It was the first time I’d worked in a crisis environment, and it provided a tremendous opportunity to gain relevant work experience.
Create a five-year plan. Sometime today, sit down and write out a plan for what you want to accomplish over the next five years. The pandemic may have affected your short-term plans, but it doesn’t have to derail the long-term vision for your career.
Write in detail about where you want to be in your life, what job you will have, and where you’d like to live. Reflect on your goals quarterly, and work toward fulfilling your vision.
It’s OK if you’re feeling overwhelmed or less than sanguine about the job market. There are opportunities, and there is always hope. Stay motivated, keep learning new skills, and be intentional about finding your purpose.
Jessica Nunez is founder and president of TruePoint Communications, a Top 100 PR agency in the nation and a three-time recipient of the Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Privately-Owned Companies in the U.S. TruePoint exists to propel brands forward. Learn more at www.truepointagency.com.