Homework. Meetings. Group projects. E-mails. Library. Coffee dates. Internships. Work. — Welcome to the life of a college student. On top of all of these priorities, we’re also expected to prepare ourselves for the “real world.” However, who has time to redo their resume, read up on the latest industry news, and set up informational interviews with professionals on top of these other responsibilities? Not this girl. However, I realize the importance of all of these things, and I’ve developed the perfect solution…or at least one that works for me. — A 60-minute session once per week devoted solely to professional development.
I schedule in my “PD” session just like it’s any other commitment so that I never have an excuse to miss my one-hour time to develop my professional and networking skills. I have an ongoing list on things I need to do during my PD session, including updating my resume, reading top articles from PR Daily or other blogs, and editing my own blog. Here are a few tips to get the most out of your own PD session…
1. Begin a list of things you should do for your own career. These tasks can include creating and updating a resume, ordering business cards, writing cover letters, contacting local professionals to set up informational interviews, or writing for your blog. Use time during your PD session to work on these sometimes time-consuming activities.
2. Develop an industry reading list. For all of my fellow Twitter list lovers out there, you know that there’s a ton of great material posted from other industry professionals each week. (By following hashtags such as #HAPPO, #prssa, and #prstudchat, you’ll be introduced to hundreds of great PR-related readings.) However, it’s quite time consuming to read all of the articles from tweets throughout the week. Therefore, if something sparks my interest, I’ll copy the article link into a document. During my PD time, I’ll read each of the articles and make notes in my PD guide (see #3!).
3. Create your own Professional Development Guide. Whenever I attend a professional speaker at a PRSSA meeting or the like, I will take my favorite tips from that speaker and copy them into a Word document. I’ll also copy key quotes or ideas from articles into this document. This is my way to organize what I learn from speakers and different articles/blogs in a comprehensive manner, rather than having notes on a thousand different post-its or legal pads.
4. Learn something new! I use my PD time to learn more about a new social media platform or to develop a new skill, such as using Adobe design programs. It’s obviously not easy to develop new skills in only an hour, but at least I have a basic knowledge of a tool.
5. Update your contact list. I keep all the business cards I receive in an organizer, and I’ll occasionally go through and reconnect with some of my contacts via e-mail. My e-mails are usually short but are a great way to stay relevant in the minds of local professionals that I may be helpful when I begin my job search.
So pick a time, open a Word document, and start making a list of things you want to do to advance your PR career! My next 60-minute PD time is scheduled for Friday at 9:30 a.m…when is yours?