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From novice to natural

From novice to natural

Congratulations, college graduates! You’ve finished school, and now you’re ready to begin your professional career. You feel prepped and ready to take on the world — or at least your first “real” job. The world is
your oyster.

But before you get ahead of yourself in your idealism, let me share with you a professional secret: Chances are, despite how well you understand the job description, how many interviews you sat through, and how stoked you are about your new colleagues, you will still find it tough to keep your head above water in the first weeks at a new job. Between remembering names, grasping the office culture, and – oh, your actual job duties – it can
be overwhelming.

Whatever your new gig may be – agency, corporate communications, non-profit or other – here are some tips to get organized, make great first impressions and become a natural in no time.

Wake and Intake
First thing in the morning, either at home or once you get to your desk, it is important to drink coffee do a quick run-through of relevant news. A former colleague who worked on Capitol Hill dubbed this routine the “morning digest.” He used a special folder of bookmarked tabs in his browser that he would spin through. Keep it manageable (no more than 10 outlets and blogs) so that you can scan for headlines, pertinent stories and mentions of your organization or clients.

Improve Your Outlook
Whether you use Microsoft Outlook or another email software, make it work for you from day one. Professional email moves at an exponentially faster pace than college email, and your job is to keep up. Implement an email organization system (folders, rules, archiving, flagging – whatever it takes) within the first week and you will be a happy camper, and others will wonder how you do it all! Check out Merlin Mann’s Inbox Zero or Lifehacker for email solutions and tons of other productivity tips. Once your system is in place you can tweak as necessary, but get it in place fast, before you’re floundering in your inbox.

Write, Write, Write
If writing is not a part of your core job description, make it known that you would like to take a stab at drafting press releases, pitches, marketing copy, invitations, etc. At age 22, the first press release I drafted came back full of red – I think I almost fainted when it landed on my desk. However, I was lucky to work with fantastic wordsmiths, and I ultimately found the editing process hugely valuable to my writing skills. Practice! You may find that college staple, Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style, very useful. Many of my colleagues over the years still swear by it. In addition, proofreading is just as important now as it was when you wrote that brilliant cover letter that landed you the job.

Style is King
Yes, the professional dress code in your new office is important, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. In PR and communications, your organization will have a style guide they adhere to. Most likely the AP Stylebook will reign, but it could be another – at my first job it was Chicago Manual of Style. Figure out what is used, get a copy of the book and become an expert. If you will be using AP style, I suggest sitting in on @APStyleBook’s weekly #APStyleChat on Twitter to keep up on the latest changes and common mistakes. You will improve your writing and be a go-to for editing projects in your office (and you’ll be able to throw out zingers like “Janet, hyphenating ‘email’ is so 2011”).

Lastly, congratulations on your new gig! Keep Albers in the loop about what you’re doing in the PR and communications world – connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.