The season of pomp and circumstance is immediately in our rearview mirror. Graduates from the Class of 2023 are embarking on an exciting journey into the post-pandemic workforce. As they enter the realm of public relations, both graduates and organizations face unique challenges and opportunities. We reached out to two communications professionals for their valuable insights and tips for this transition. Here's what they had to say:
Building a Supportive Culture
Kara Armit, Vice President of Human Resources at 360PR+, emphasizes the importance of building a supportive environment, stating, "There’s no shortage of data on the challenges 2023 graduates are facing as they enter the post-pandemic workforce. Many aren’t accustomed to a traditional business environment. On the flip side, organizations aren’t accustomed to working with a generation that has prioritized mental health, diversity and inclusion, and social responsibility. There’s certainly a lot we can learn from each other."
To effectively support and engage new hires, empathetic leadership and a culture of wellness are paramount. Armit suggests that organizations can achieve this by "providing opportunities to work with trusted brands and demonstrating a commitment to DEI initiatives."
Adaptable and Tech-Savvy Talent
The Class of 2023 is undoubtedly adaptable and equipped with advanced technological skills. Armit explains, "Their ability to flex and bounce back from difficult circumstances will serve them well for a career in PR. As digital natives, they’re also the most tech-savvy generation to enter the workforce." Organizations should embrace their insights and ideas, recognizing the value they bring to the table, even for seasoned professionals.
Empowering the Class of 2023
Samantha Margolis Fogle, President at the Mint Agency , shares the positive impact new generations of PR practitioners can have on organizations.
Fogle asserts, "There’s absolutely no downside for organizations in embracing new generations of PR practitioners. There’s so much knowledge, passion and enthusiasm as they enter the workplace."
She emphasizes the importance of providing support and maintaining a work-life balance for graduates transitioning from the classroom to the workplace.
Creating Autonomy and Encouraging Innovation
Mint, an independent agency, fosters an environment that encourages autonomy and entrepreneurship among its employees.
Fogle states, "We know how important potential mobility is to young PR practitioners and new graduates. We are able to offer autonomy and a sense of entrepreneurship to our employees that really helps them grow according to their skills and interests."
The agency invests in employee learning through training and mentorship, ensuring they are well-prepared for success.
Embracing Diversity and Listening to Ideas
Recognizing the value of diverse backgrounds and perspectives, Mint actively involves the Class of 2023 in organizational conversations.
Fogle emphasizes, "Younger PR practitioners are at the forefront of understanding what matters to consumers, especially as value-driven brand behaviors continue to increase. It’s so important to listen to the Class of 2023 and empower them to vocalize and realize their ideas."
By integrating new graduates into discussions, organizations can tap into their fresh perspectives and contribute to meaningful growth.
Navigating the Professional Office Setting
For many graduates, the professional office setting might be an entirely new experience. To bridge the gap, organizations like 360PR+ provide an Office Etiquette 101 session, covering important topics such as attire, work hours, email communication, and time-off requests. Armit highlights the significance of providing guidance to shy graduates, noting that "giving new graduates who may be too shy to ask questions a little guidance can go a long way."
Mint also places great emphasis on helping new graduates transition smoothly into the professional setting. Fogle shares a success story, stating, "One of our recent additions to the team... hadn’t worked in an office setting before, especially coming out of COVID. We helped her understand that different backgrounds are a huge asset in PR, and that her fresh perspective was valued across our work." The agency provided support, guidance, and networking opportunities, ensuring that the new hire felt comfortable and empowered to ask questions.
"Having a buttoned up and thorough onboarding plan has never been more critical,” Armit adds. At 360PR+, they have implemented programs such as the Buddy Program and a formal Mentorship Program to create connections for new employees.
Advice for Graduates
Fogle encourages graduates to actively participate in their organizations, stating, "Never shy away from vocalizing your ideas and asking questions. Having a fresh perspective is so important—your opinions matter." This advice emphasizes the value of their unique insights and the importance of being engaged contributors to their teams.
Meanwhile, Armit highlights the vast learning opportunities within the communications field. She acknowledges that trying to master everything at the start of one's career journey is unrealistic. Instead, Armit suggests focusing on fundamental principles that can be built upon over time.
- Be curious. "The desire to learn new things... will allow you to learn, grow, and think creatively."
- Be uncomfortable. "Taking on a challenging project or assignment isn’t easy, but in discomfort, there is growth."
- Show up. "A strong work ethic and willingness to simply do the work is often the secret sauce to success."Armit's guidance emphasizes the importance of continuous learning, embracing challenges, and maintaining a strong work ethic as key ingredients for long-term success in the PR industry.