By Pamela Cox-Nulman, APR, CPRC
In hot pursuit of their first PR job, members of the student FPRA chapter at Florida Gulf Coast University received valuable career tips from four local public relations professionals at the student chapter’s final meeting of the year.
Luis Otero, Marketing Manager, Saks Fifth Avenue Naples, Melissa Simontis, APR, development director for PACE Center for Girls of Lee County, Barbara-Anne Urrutia, public relations manager, Lee County Port Authority, and Carla Ulakovic, Community Project Specialist, East County Water Control District, shared how they landed their first jobs out of college, along with tips to excel and propel a PR career once in the field.
The panel’s top 10 tips for job seeking graduates:
1.    Public Relations is hard work. To be successful you have to be willing to dig in and do everything from open boxes and stuff envelopes to pitching stories to the media and managing budgets.  
2.    Writing rules. PR professionals are storytellers and we have to be strong writers with solid skills to share and sell our story.
3.    Network, network, network. Family, friends, local business and professional organizations all provide job leads and connections.
4.    Have a portfolio of your best work from college classes, internships and community service activities.
5.    Be sure you have an error-free resume.
6.    Include a cover letter, tailored to the position, along with your resume when applying for a job.
7.    Always follow-up with a short note after making a new contact or interviewing for a position. It will keep you top-of-mind.
8.    Consider working for a non-profit. They are a great training ground to expand skills and meet people.
9.    Be open to opportunities. You first job is generally not your dream job, but it may be a stepping stone.
10.   Follow your passion and practice patience. A career isn’t built overnight, it evolves over time.