Written by Jaclyn Robinson, firm director for Allen Hall Public Relations. 

As a Portland native, job touring in San Francisco brought excitement, awe and a nervous anticipation for what the future holds. Walking into each of the agencies I had the privilege of visiting I was sure I would be intimidated, but to my surprise, intimidation was the last thing I felt. Not only did every agency welcome us, the people we met were incredibly down-to-earth and honest with us about their careers. They showed us around, answered our questions and assured us that life after college is not as daunting as it seems. They also gave us great pieces of advice that I think every college student should hear before entering the crazy, fast-paced professional world. Here are a few helpful takeaways from the trip:

1. Set up informational interviews.
How many times have you heard, “It’s all about who you know”? Odds are, quite a few, but do not be discouraged if you have yet to make connections at your dream agency. You do not need to know anyone to do your research and reach out via LinkedIn. Simply research a professional at your agency of interest and request to connect. Be sure to send a personalized message stating that you are a student interested in learning about their experience and ask to set up an informational interview. If the informational interview goes well, make sure to let your connection know when you apply; it may help move your application along.

2. Thank you cards are important.
After an informational interview, a tour or even a call, but sure to send a thank you card. Every person we met with on this trip stressed the importance of sending thank you cards. When professionals give up their time for you, it’s a big deal, and you need to acknowledge the fact that you are appreciative of their time, regardless of if you are planning on applying to their agency or not. As you move up in PR the field becomes smaller and people will remember the things you do that set you apart.

3. Do your research.
It seems self-explanatory, but research is crucial. Research the agencies you are interested in and the people at those agencies before you reach out. Set up a Google alert for the agencies you want to follow and address something recent and relevant in the news at your informational interview. Being a PR professional is all about keeping up with the news, and often creating it, so showing that you are proactive and already practicing media monitoring makes a great first impression.

4. It’s all about culture.
The only thing I heard more than the word “Bitcoin” in San Francisco was “company culture.” Almost every person we met said that the most important thing about the workplace is the culture, meaning the people you work with, and the energy of the environment. When you are looking for jobs, aim to find a culture that you feel comfortable and happy in and you will not only look forward to work each day but be more productive overall.

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