As someone who constantly asks for career advice, I thought I knew everything about working in the marketing and public relations world.
Throughout my entire college career, my professors, advisors, friends and family had provided me with endless piles of information on everything from choosing the correct shade of blue for an interview to taking the ideal classes that would give me the necessary knowledge to be successful in a public relations career. I had even interviewed numerous people in the marketing and public relations industry to ensure I was on the right path.
I thought I knew it all – and quickly I found out I was wrong.
Take press release writing, for example.
I’ve taken classes that taught me the document’s anatomy, like date line, boiler plate, the storytelling idea of the inverted pyramid, and more, but taking that classroom experience to the real world is a completely different story … and I realized there was a tremendous amount I hadn’t learned in the classroom or by osmosis from advice I’d sought out.
While learning the history behind a discipline is important as are academics, what makes or breaks a young professional is his or her ability to translate those pieces of information into real-life situations.
I learned that different clients required different voices, tone and verbiage in their PR and social media materials and I was required to think critically about clients’ brands before setting off on my next round of tweet writing. I also learned to ask, “So what?” when thinking about the approach we should take with various clients’ news. That is, I learned to ask why what product or service a client was about to launch mattered – and why someone should care.
I also learned about the back-end of websites and again, how to notice the differences between various clients’ website setups – and vary what needed to be done based on that particular client’s specifications.
The entire public relations team, especially Kelly, Lauren and Kelli, constantly gave me constructive feedback that allowed me to continuously improve each time I completed a task. At first I was afraid to make mistakes, but I realized it’s all part of the learning process – and I even started to look forward to some of their red-lined edits.
There is no replacement for real-world experience. I am thankful to everyone at Altitude who welcomed me to the team and made me feel comfortable right away. I never felt like the stereotypical intern because everyone treated me as an equal. I was included in everything from the lunch and learns, pitch meetings, new employee welcome dinners, client meetings and more
The entire team was more than appreciative of all my work, which greatly boosted my confidence as I completed different tasks. By the end of the day, I would feel accomplished with everything I completed and all the improvement I was making.
I’m truly lucky to have learned from such talented people who have guided me to becoming a better professional. I now know there is a great deal I still have left to learn and the best way to learn it is from fully immersing myself in and not being afraid to make mistakes along the way.
— By Naseeba Saeed, Altitude’s Summer 2017 intern from Penn State University.