Jay talked about how he is a Journalism graduate from Western University where he graduated on the Deans Honor List. He parlayed this into his first job with the Professional Anglers Society located in Peterborough, it was here that he honed his craft within Internal Communications. His duties consisted mainly of making sure each and every employee was aware of what the organization was doing and how their job contributed to the day to day activities. Jay spent two years there before a headhunter from Dofasco recruited him to another internal communications position with them. Jay spent another five years with them until his dream job presented itself with Mohawk College, he now spends his time writing speeches for the President and VP while at the same time being an active member with the IABC. He has been employed with Mohawk for six years and the one part of his job that he especially enjoys is writing speeches, it allows him to directly represent the school through the President and explain all of the cool and progressive things the college is taking part in.
Jay was quick to remind us of one key fact, writing will always be prominent in the industry, not even the rise of social media will change this. One thing he said that really stayed with me was that as students we should already have a good idea on what sector we hope to work in and start doing research on some of the organizations within that sector. Once you're confident enough he also noted how it would be a good idea to contact them if for nothing else than to open the lines of communication. Once we've started this conversation the most important thing to do is to keep yourself at the top of their mind, even if you have to bang down a few doors.
Jay specifically pointed out how PR organizations, whether they are large agencies or small not-for-profits, place a lot of importance on how easy you are to work with. Your talent and knowledge can only take you so far, if you're not somebody who can take constructive criticism or put your ego to the side and sacrifice for the good of the client, you won't last very long. Demonstrating both the soft and hard skills we have learned from Tim over the course of the program is another point Jay passed along, during the interview process potential employers want to see how we would handle any situation that might come along.
Now that I've had time to think about what he was sharing with us I've realized that there is no reason to be concerned about not being prepared to enter the industry. Employers know that after our program is completed we will have a solid foundation of knowledge related to public relations, however, the learning will not stop once we graduate. It is only the beginning.