How to prepare for life after the classroom

I recently started teaching a course in the very PR program that taught me so much, and one question I've been hearing over and over from my students is "How can I get ahead in the field after I graduate?"

While I'm far from the finished article, and am still learning new things every day, I thought I would impart some words of wisdom to help PR students prepare for their journey after the classroom:

  1. Volunteer 
    Volunteer experiences enable you to get that all too important experience under your belt. Not only that, it allows you to learn the dos and don'ts of the field first-hand. While still in school, for example, I volunteered with the Children's Wish Foundation of Canada's Ontario Chapter, where I was able to use the skills I learned in the classroom in a real-world setting.
  2. Be careful with social networks
    These days, a Google search of your name can easily destroy your chances of getting that dream job. Make sure you put your best digital face forward by networking on LinkedIn, engaging on Twitter and sharing your thoughts on a personal blog. Don't forget to keep this simple phrase in mind when you're about to post something: Would you mind your grandmother to seeing it?
  3. Learn the Adobe and Microsoft suites
    Stand out from the crowd by becoming an expert in Word, Outlook, PowerPoint and Excel. Oh, and don't forget to up your game by learning Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and Premiere. Nowadays, a lot of places are looking for their PR peeps to be a one-stop-shop for everything. By knowing these applications, you will already be ahead of the competition.
  4. The news is your new best friend
    Make sure you stay on top of current events by following the news and setting up alerts for topics of interest. Consider this time an investment in your future.

What tips would you offer to PR students or recent grads? Leave your tips them in the comments!

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