Lisa Johnson Kiefer met with PRSSA members for dinner on Wednesday, November 1 to discuss her background as a PR professional. She has over ten years of experience in PR firms and in cutting-edge PR research as well as her own private firm. From a UF Gator graduate in 2007 to a top executive at a Washington D.C. research firm today, Lisa shared incredible insights into the industry, tips on job and internship applications, networking advice and more. For those that did not make it, here are Lisa’s biggest pieces of advice for students interested in all things communications.
1. Care more than others
Most students in your field may be going through the same courses as you, but how many truly care about getting involved? How many actively befriend professors, become involved in organizations or volunteer for their passions? If they are involved in professional organizations, how many of them are actively participating in committees and creating media content? To be set apart from others in the field, simply caring about networking, participating in meetings and being truly involved in extracurricular activities makes a difference. Lisa says most of her employees or applicants do not make that effort. Many don’t follow up on emails, reach out for networking opportunities or show face at events. The ones that do, though, stand out!
2. Don’t rush over applications
As the chief hiring position at her department, Lisa is attuned to the application and interviewing process, and she shared what she looks for most in applicants. First and foremost, review the cover letters and resumes! She receives cover letters with other companies in the document, files names copied from other application letters and sometimes no cover letters at all. She stressed the importance of proofreading your application, which is employers first impression of you.
3. After you land a job, practice humility
If you have secured a killer internship or dream job, you’ve leveled the playing field with yourself and your colleagues. Although you may have had wonderful experiences and feel seasoned in the field, you and your peers will have a similar salary and the same job title. There is no superiority for having that one internship last summer or being magna cum laude in college. Humility and a collaborative attitude are essential to being a good employee- more so than feeling better than others for your long list of accomplishments.
4. Give it at least a year
If you have landed a job, congratulations! Lisa suggests that you stay at a company for at least a year before you decide how you feel about the position, good or bad. If a job feels depressing, frustrating or not exciting, a little time at the company may make you change your mind. Similarly, if a position feels great, wait for around a year to see all facets of the company, the company culture, responsibilities and more. You may fall even more in love, make connections, and succeed, or you could find unforeseen difficulties with colleagues, bosses or clients.
We thank Lisa for her generous advice and all the knowledge she has shared with us to prepare us for a successful career in communications. Make sure to come to an upcoming meeting with more professionals through PRSSA to connect first-hand with talented individuals in PR. Is there a specific sector or PR field you would like us to cover? Send us your suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by Laura Henschel