I was asked to come back to Kent State University (my alma mater) and speak at PRSSA’s annual Communications Connection event. This was my second time speaking at this event, and it’s still crazy to me because I feel like it was just yesterday that I was the student attending this event to gain knowledge from area professionals.
The topic I was given was “finding your strengths” and I thought I would recap the key points I told the students.
- Identify what you love to do and recognize what you excel at. Build on those strengths and find opportunities that will allow you to do what you love.
- It’s OK to not know what all of your strengths are! This can take time, and that’s totally fine. (There is a great book, StrengthsFinder 2.0, that takes the guess work out of identifying your strengths and weaknesses.)
- Take advantages of committees (i.e. PRSSA Kent and AAF Kent), internships and jobs. This will allow you to gain valuable knowledge and get experience in multiple areas. You never know when these opportunities will turn into a passion you didn’t even know you had.
- When interviewing for an internship or job, I highly recommend having a section in the back of your portfolio that highlights things you are passionate about. Even though this may have nothing to do with the job you are applying for, it says a lot about you and your personality. For me, I highlighted several of my favorite photos that I had taken, along with several of my favorite posts from my Vera Bradley blog. Besides, it’s easy to talk about the things you love! Embrace it.
- If you know your strengths, but your current internship or job doesn’t necessarily list that in the job description, I would encourage anyone to volunteer. Volunteering is one of my favorite things to do- especially when I can use a skill that I’m already good at, and help an organization that may struggle in that area due to lack of resources and time. Either way, it’s a great networking opportunity and you’re gaining real-world experience, too!
- On the other hand, if you know what one of your strengths is, let’s say- media relations, yet your current internship or job doesn’t list that in your responsibilities, speak up and talk to your supervisor or boss. Letting them know (or better yet, showing them) that you are interesting in a particular area, is one way to get on their radar. Ask if you can sit in on their next media pitch or see if you can help craft the next media list, the worst they can say is “no.”
Do you have any tips that you would add? I’d love to hear them.