Don’t Forget Your Professors

A helping hand!

This is a guest post from Kelli Matthews.

You Never Know Where Job Leads Will Come From.

Just this week I got an email from a friend who practices PR in Portland, Oregon. In the email my friend said that she was looking for an intern, she included a job description… and it asked me not to share the description widely, but instead to recommend a few stellar students who I thought would be a good fit for her agency.

This happens a lot. And it really underscores a lesser-known reason why it’s important to build relationships with your professors. Recommendations and job leads can come from unexpected places.

What can you do to build this relationship? These are tips that I’ve found work for me. Obviously, as with anything in PR, know your audience and use the most appropriate channels for each person you want to keep in contact with.

  • Drop me an email once in a while to tell me what you are up to, what kind of work you’re doing, what you like, what you find challenging, etc. I love hearing what students are doing and it also keeps your experience top of mind if you are in the position of looking for a new job.
  • Connect with me on LinkedIn. Sometimes when I get a request to provide recommendations for a job opening, I go to my LinkedIn contacts and scan the list looking for former students who might be interested. Keep your LinkedIn up-to-date and use it actively to share professional accomplishments.
  • Follow (and interact) with me on Twitter. I’m very active on Twitter and I love to hear from students there. In fact, I sort students separately from the rest of my Twitter friends to make sure I don’t miss connections.

I want to know what you’re interested in (particularly when you’re in job search mode). If you’ve enjoyed working in high tech PR, but your dream is something in the wine business, let me know. Be careful of course about what you share in a public forum.

It’s not difficult, right? And really nothing beyond what you’re doing to build your professional network connections, anyway. Just don’t forget that professor who you relied on for resume and job tips in college is still a great connection after you get your degree.

I also want to note that it’s not embarrassing and I’m not going to think less of you if you’ve been waiting tables, doing sales, working retail or [fill in the non-PR job here] since last we talked. Not only might I know of job openings, but I might even have some tips for getting back into a “PR state of mind” and freshening your skills. You never know!

I’d love to hear from students and professors! What do you think? What tips would you add?

Kelli Matthews teaches public relations and social media classes at the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communications. She also owns a PR, marketing and design agency, Verve Northwest, based in Eugene, Oregon. You can follow her on Twitter @kmatthews, connect on LinkedIn or just read her blog, PRosinTraining.

Photo credit: Bay Range

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