Bridging the Gap: Navigating Your Life as a New Pro

This post was written by Carol Kerbaugh, our Chapter’s Programming Coordinator, as part of our PRSSA 2012 National Conference series, where members of our Executive Board will be sharing tips from various breakout sessions. 

As soon as I saw Brandi Boatner’s name on the PRSSA National Conference program, I knew I would have to attend the Navigating Your Life as a New Pro session. When I heard her speak at last year’s PR Advanced conference here at BU, her story of persistence inspired me and her sassy attitude captivated me.

The three speakers – Brandi Boatner, Digital Experience Manager at IBM Global Technology Services; Christa Keizer, Account Executive at Edelman; and Sarah Siewer, Senior Account Executive at Public Communications Inc. – each took 10 minutes at the beginning of the session to introduce themselves and discuss how they got to where they are today.

A Q&A between the panelists and audience members took place during the second half of the session. The advice each speaker offered was advantageous for all in attendance. Below are several questions asked from audience members and an overview of the answers given from the panelists.

Advice for relocating to a new city after college?

The general consensus from the panelists: Do it. When else in your life are you going to be able to just pick up and move somewhere new? It’s the perfect time to start fresh and gain new experiences in a new city. Working at a PR agency when you’re new to a city is great too because so many agencies have young employees who you can socialize with outside of the office. The panelists did warn that it would be a smart idea to be sure to have a job secured before moving, unless you have the financial means to support yourself while you search for a job in that new city. Moving isn’t cheap, they advised. Between a security deposit on an apartment, moving expenses and furnishing and decorating a new apartment, you’re looking at a few thousand dollars just to cover the move.

When do you know when you’ve done enough unpaid internships?

The audience member who asked this question said he had completed six unpaid internships and believed his skills were valuable enough to demand something more than college credit in return. The takeaway point from the panelists: know your worth. If you have experience and skills that are valuable to a client or company, make it known that you are worth something. There should come a point when you realize that the work you are doing can’t be done by just anyone. When you reach that point, make it known that you are a valuable asset to your employer. If that employer is not willing to give you what you deserve in return, find someone who will. Yes, you’ve got to pay your dues in this industry but that can only go on for so long.

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