What to Expect as a New Communications Professional

TORONTO, April 21 /CNW/ - With spring on its way, many students across the country are studying for exams and looking forward to graduation. Students have spent the last few years studying and training through co-op programs, volunteering and networking to make themselves employable. Once they begin their first career, students have to make the transition from the classroom to the professional world. A lot of what is expected of a new professional cannot be taught in school but only learned through experience.

In the classroom, students are given the basic skills and information about the professional world such as proper etiquette and respecting deadlines. What they're not taught is that in many jobs the typical 9-5 doesn't exist anymore. There will be weekends and evenings they will have to give up; they will have to figure out how to approach and pitch ideas to senior management, and how to deal with a crisis and the unexpected.

New business communicators and public relations practitioners face many of these challenges. The ever expanding role of communications now encompasses areas outside the traditional roles, such as graphic design, social media, event planning, and photography.

"Junior professionals are being asked to bring a variety of new skills to their first jobs thanks to the evolution of our profession and the increasing role of social media in communications," said Sharon Beattie, VP Membership at the Toronto Chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC). "They're also looked upon to bring a crucial insight and perspective on the young demographic."

Students are often not aware of the various roles communications play in an organization. Communications is not limited to news releases, media engagement, pitching ideas or stories and networking. Communications encompasses a wide range of roles that fall under the same umbrella; including internal communications, media buying and planning, research analysis, marketing advertising and much more.

Still, most reasonable employers do not expect a new grad to know everything.

"A willingness to learn and a positive attitude are key soft skills for a new professional. However, the technical skills learned in school are also important, including strong writing skills, and a clear awareness and understanding of media, combined with social media savvy," says Beattie.

Andre Beadle is the Marketing Assistant at Applied Electronics Limited. He graduated from Seneca's Marketing e-business program in 2010 and is currently a part-time student at Ryerson University studying Marketing Management. As a student, Beadle felt his school had prepared their students well enough for the real world by providing career-focused classes. These classes were structured based on a survey that was conducted to find out what companies were looking for and what they expected.

"If there is one piece of advice I can give to students who want to get involved in their field and have a better chance of being hired is to intern and volunteer, you gain valuable experience," says Beadle, "Not everything I learned in school is applicable to what I do now but in the long run I know it will make me more a well- rounded employee."

What can current students and recent graduates do to help them get, and excel in, their first job? Professional associations such as IABC provide great networking and volunteer opportunities and chances to gain new skills. Associations like IABC also offer a Mentorship Program where new professionals are paired with experienced senior professionals who provide advice, encouragement and other assistance to the mentee. Both mentor and mentee achieve professional growth and career advancement through this program.

"In the end, knowledge is power," said Beattie. "Taking all that you've learned in school and adding great advice from real world professionals will allow you to be prepared to offer the greatest value in your first job."

About IABC/Toronto
With more than 1,700 members, IABC/Toronto is the largest IABC chapter in the world. The organization provides these members with multidisciplinary resources and a global network of more than 15,000 communicators, in 80 countries, working in diverse industries and disciplines to identify, share and apply the world's most effective communications practices. For more information please visit http://toronto.iabc.com


For further information:

Scott Fry
Director - Marketing Communications

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