When I arrived on campus this fall my goal was to find a job. In a perfect world, I would find a job that would cater to my interests in PR and teach me PR skills. But in reality I was only a college student who needed to find a job with flexible hours that would allow me to make some extra money. I realized I would have to put my search for a professional PR job on hold until after I graduated.
I ended up getting a job as an usher at Boston University’s Agganis Arena. Working as an usher is a more demanding job than it seems. It requires patience, and the ability to work with a variety of people. But what does any of this have to do with PR, you ask?
Here are the skills I have learned from my ushering job that will help me in my future career in PR.
Stay on your toes. I don’t just mean this literally (as an usher/ticket taker you are standing on your feet all night long). I’ve learned to be alert and respond quickly to unexpected situations, such as issues with tickets, seats, special accommodations for guests, and so on. I might find myself running back and forth across the arena in one night just to help a customer! (Six laps around the arena is a mile, so I get in my exercise for the day). In the fast-paced world of PR you never know what task you might be handed. It is essential to have the skills that help you tackle any issue that comes your way.
Stay informed. People ask a lot of questions. It is necessary for me to know where everything is in the arena, facts about the event happening in the arena and what events are coming up. Nothing is more disappointing to a customer than an uniformed employee. As an employee of the arena, I am representing the rest of the arena. The same idea exists in PR. You are a representation of your client. Not only is it important for you to know everything about your client, but also know everything about your competitors a well. That way you have an easier time representing your client. Being an usher has gotten me into the habit of doing a little research on each even that will be occurring.
Deal with negativity. Unfortunately, there are times when people are not happy with the policies in the arena, their seats, the show, etc. However, a happy customer is a returning customer. It is important to learn how to assess the situation and think critically about the best way to solve the problem, while keeping your cool. In PR, seeing all sides of your client’s perspective is important, dealing with negativity should be handled in the same way. After all, you want to ensure that your customer remains with you and refers others to you in the future.
My point is, explore a job in customer service before heading off into the PR world. Although the thought of dealing with customers may seem grueling, it is rewarding and you meet many interesting people. The communication skills that you learn from a customer service job will stick with you and give you good practice for your future in the PR industry – plus you get to make some extra money on the side!