· Get an internship. Even if most organizations have already picked their summer interns, it’s never too early to start looking for and researching future internships. Seek out a fall internship, and reach out to professionals this summer to build your network. Networking is a vital tool in the public relations industry and can help with setting up interviews and ultimately landing positions.
· Organize your portfolio. After finishing a school year of classes, you probably have completed several individual and group projects that showcase your skills and talents. Summer is a great time to collect and organize content that can be added to a portfolio—or used to start one. Play around with online resources, such as WiX, WordPress, or Weebly, that make it easy to build your own online portfolio. Every public relations student needs one eventually, so you might as well start it now!
· Update your LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the leading professional online networking tool that assists with the job search for all professionals. If you don’t already have one, create one! Use the summer to update your personal profile by getting a professional headshot taken, updating your bio, or adding skills to your profile. The summer is a time to connect with and reach out to professionals, build relationships with people doing what you want to do, and research different companies in the industry for future employment.
· Start a blog. Write about public relations, life, your favorite TV shows—anything that interests you and lets others get to know you better. All that is important is to write and build your authenticity. A blog will help build material for portfolios and provides the opportunity for students to brush up on writing skills, the most essential tool in public relations.
· Read! It’s important to keep up with what’s occurring in the public relations industry, and the best way to do that is to read. Whether it’s books, tweets, articles, or blogs, it’s important to read and stay in the loop of this ever-changing profession. There is an infinite amount information available, all you have to do is take the time to find it and start reading.
· Clean up your social media pages. We all have embarrassing or inappropriate posts that have accumulated over the years, and it’s time to dig deep and get rid of them—before someone else does. How you present yourself on social media is how you present yourself to anyone with access to the Internet. It’s important to make a good impression and not let social media interfere with your professional career. Treat your social media pages as a tool to help your professional career, not hinder it.
· Reach out to local businesses. As public relations students, ambition comes natural. Use this inclination to your advantage by offering a few weeks of your time to help promote a business for free. Any potential employer will be impressed to hear you took the initiative to gain additional experience simply because you love the industry.
· Step outside of your comfort zone. In public relations, it’s important to connect to culture. Summer is an excellent time to get that experience. Try a new food, explore a new place, take a trip, or cross something off of a bucket list. These experiences can be a great way to have fun and prepare for the future. Being worldly and experienced are qualities that can only help in your future. (Added bonus: These experiences can be written about in the new blog you’re starting this summer.)
So take a break from Netflix, stop complaining about how bored you are, and use the next three months to complete this list! Don’t waste your summer; stay connected to the public relations world and watch yourself become a better professional.
By Lauren Vahldick
PRecisely PR is the blog of the Illinois State University Chapter of the PRSSA. We write about Chapter events, the public relations industry, member profiles, and more.