All Grown Up: My First Three Months at Vox

All Grown Up: My First Three Months at Vox

Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I leap out of bed. I’ve never been so excited to wake up at 7 a.m. Until now.

It’s mid-August in 2013, and I’m about to head to the last class of my college career. After this last class, I will be a college graduate, and the “real world” beckons.

Leaving the comforts of academia behind and entering the working world is simultaneously one of the most exciting and intimidating experiences for many grads, myself included. I didn’t know what to expect, and though I tried to read as many “recent grad advice columns” as I could, I still wanted to know more about what it would be like when I finally landed a paid position in public relations.

After a multi-month job search, I found myself sitting in the Vox office as the firm’s newest employee. I was excited, overwhelmed and felt totally clueless (I still do, sometimes!). Fast forward three months and here I am, finally feeling settled into my job, feeling much more confident about my own abilities, and writing this post in hopes that it helps to ease the anxiety of any recent college graduate reading it.

I’d like to share three of my biggest takeaways from my first few months on the job:

1) I’ve learned more in three months of work than I did in four years of school.

I do a lot of media relations work here at Vox, which entails calling media outlets to pitch stories for clients and working with the media at events. This was scary at first, because it wasn’t part of my college experience.

Make no mistake, I learned a lot at the University of Oregon. The UO’s School of Journalism and Communication is top-notch, filled with wonderful professors and helpful advisors. I learned the basics of press release writing, blog writing, traditional reporting and social media. I learned the fundamental principles of strategic communications and public relations. I learned how to give presentations and engage people. The basics, however, don’t always cut it in the professional world. Think of what you learned in college as the 10 percent of an iceberg that’s above the water; the “underwater” part is what you learn on the job. Picture your first job as an extension of the basic skills you learned in college. Your education doesn’t end upon graduation; it is just starting.

2) I’ve learned to deal with failure.

Are you a perfectionist? I wouldn’t quite call myself one, but I come pretty close. When I was a child (according to my parents), I was reluctant to try new things because I was fearful that I couldn’t do it, perfectly, from the outset. Color outside the lines? No way. I’m a little better now, but still have those feelings whenever I’m given a new task or project. For instance, I’m constantly fearful that I am going to make a typo or write down some incorrect information. This is a good thing, to a point – being accurate is very important. But I spend way too much time editing and revising, perhaps out of fear that others won’t be satisfied with my work.

My first job has helped quell this fear by simply exposing me to the rejection that comes with public relations agency life. Pitches are regularly denied, and what the client wants isn’t always what they receive on the first try. It’s part of the business, but it’s a part that I’m still working on getting used to.

I’ll always remember the first time a client sent me negative feedback on a release, with the gist being “this sucks.” That was hard for me to deal with, but it also steeled me for future encounters with failure. It has helped me ask more questions of the client, which then has helped me deliver more content that is in line with their “voice” the next time around. I am learning to develop a thicker skin.

Being perfect on the first try doesn’t always happen, and in reality, won’t ever happen. What’s important is the end product.

3) I’ve learned to simply start working when I feel unsure about how to proceed.

Obvious, right? But not as easy to do. In the first few weeks of my job, I often found myself struggling to begin a task or project (perhaps again partly out of fear of failure). I found a very simple solution: Just start working. Jump in. Do stuff. Nike’s tagline really works here.

Let’s use writing a news release as an example. Each of us finds a way to organize our writing that “works” for us. For some, it is creating a short outline before writing complete sentences. Other people have to craft the perfect lead sentence or paragraph before moving to the second paragraph. For me, I discovered that I work better and faster if I just let everything flow out. Even if it is a jumbled mess, I then can reorganize and edit it into something of much higher quality. Having the ideas down on paper helps me refine – and perfect – my work. So find how you best “process” your writing, and then perfect it.

There are many, many more things I’ve learned in my brief time as a public relations professional, but these three lessons are standouts so far. If you’re a recent PR graduate or just about to start your first full-time public relations job, I hope they help you with your transition to the working world!

Do you have any other tips or secrets on acclimating to a new job? Let us know in the comments!

 

Photo Credit: Corie Howell via Flickr

2 Responses to “All Grown Up: My First Three Months at Vox”

  1. Don Bishoff says:

    Good job!

  2. Cindee says:

    Great perspective, Taylor! You Robertsons are Naturals at writing.

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