3 Tips for College Students Seeking a Career in Internal Communications
This week marked my return to school - but it’s not what you think. Yes, I DID send my newly minted 5th and 8th grader off to school for what will hopefully be a more “normal” year. But what I mean is that I myself went back to school, to speak with students taking an internal communications course at City College taught by a dear friend and former colleague, Edward Ford.
I’m occasionally invited to talk with college classes about my career, but what made this talk extra special was that it was my first in-person professional meeting since pre-covid times. I had the pleasure of answering the students' questions, giving feedback on their group assignments, and sharing some key insights from how my education prepared me for my career in internal communications.
Here are three tips I shared that may be useful for anyone – student or not – considering a career in internal communications:
1. Focus on the fundamentals
No matter what you study in college, I encourage using your time in school to solidify some core skills - organization, time management and accountability. Think of your college years as your chance to develop your professional working style.
It's the perfect opportunity to practice juggling competing priorities, hitting deadlines despite distractions, and collaborating with all kinds of classmates. These skills will give you an immediate boost once you enter the working world!
2. Don’t get paralyzed by imposter syndrome
When you're pursuing a job in internal communications, you'll have to sell your interviewers on your abilities to analyze, advise, influence and communicate. Now, this may sound like a terrifying prospect - after all, not many us, particularly women, are comfortable convincing others of our abilities. But remind yourself that even some of the most brilliant minds - including Michelle Obama! - suffer from these moments of self-doubt.
When fear creeps in, clench your fists, straighten your back and hold your head high - cause, damn you're good!
3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Yes, you need to believe in your own skills and abilities. But as you’re embarking on your professional career, don’t shy away from asking for help. Seek out mentors and sponsors. Join industry communities on LinkedIn, Slack and beyond. Take a step further and get involved with professional associations for communicators like IABC,PRSA, and CIPR.
If you’re grappling with a particular challenge, don’t suffer in silence. The community of professional internal communicators is incredibly collaborative and filled with brilliance, so don’t be afraid to seek it out!
What advice would you share with the communicators of tomorrow?
I’d love to hear your tips on LinkedIn. And to everyone heading or sending a loved one back to school this fall, best of luck!