Today is the second HAPPO (Help a PR Pro Out) — an event designed to connect PR job seekers with companies that are hiring. This time, the focus is on helping PR students who will be graduating this spring. If you want to participate, follow the #happo hashtag on Twitter from noon — 2 eastern.
In HAPPO spirit, I’m turning over my blog today to a few students who will tell you about their experiences and why you should consider hiring them. First up: Rebecca Odell.
As I prepare to graduate from Kent State University with a Bachelor of Science in public relations on May 15, I find myself delving into “reflection” mode.
I reflect on the hours I spent locked in my room with a strong cup of coffee and a trusty AP Stylebook, perfecting an assignment. I reflect on the hours my roommates (who are both PR majors) and I spent sitting around the kitchen table, bonding over snacks while tackling numerous PRSSA projects. I reflect on the difficult decisions I made that led me to where I am today.
One of my public relations professors, Bill Sledzik, recently wrote a popular blog post about my generation: Gen-Y. We’re the “self esteem” generation: the kids who grew up with helicopter parents who overscheduled our lives, praised us with kind words and filled our bedroom shelves with little-league trophies.
OK: I’m guilty. This Millennial adores words of affirmation (what can I say? It’s my love language,) and if you searched my childhood closet, I bet you’d discover several first-place medals I won during elementary school coloring contests.
So what’s the problem? Is it terrible to like knowing my mom thinks I’m awesome and I’m talented enough to color pretty pictures in the lines?
Gen-Y loves self-esteem boosters, but maybe Bill brings up a great point. As I transitioned through my undergraduate education, I was grateful when professors offered kind words to reward my hard work. But when it comes down to it, these fluffy, heart-warming moments did not get me anywhere.
Maybe what students really need in their lives is a “tough love” mentor. These rough-around-the-edges pros truly want to see students grow into skilled, confident young professionals, but they opt to skip a comforting, affirming approach.
I’m grateful for the professors who told me when my writing skills were sub-par; I wouldn’t be where I am today if those red-ink-stained papers were replaced with smiley faces. I’m thankful for the mentors who encouraged me to place more responsibilities on my plate; otherwise, I wouldn’t fully discover my capabilities. I’m glad a “tough love” mentor pointed out (with flawless tact, of course) when I needed to step up my leadership skills; if she didn’t, I would have never discovered my hidden abilities.
“Tough love” mentors don’t have to be professors or supervisors. My fellow PR students constantly pushed me to move forward and keep pressing on; they truly challenged me to always put my best foot forward and pick myself up after every fall.
As I transition into my career, I am thankful for mentors (like Bill) who taught me to check my ego at the door and strive to refine my skills every day.
So mentors: Don’t be afraid to show #HAPPO participants some tough love as you guide them into their news careers. And Gen-Y students/soon-to-be grads: Don’t be afraid to swallow a large dose of tough love before you take on the real word. Reality may bruise your Gen-Y ego, but the punches will better prepare you in the long run. Bring it on. 🙂
Rebecca Odell is a senior public relations major at Kent State University. She has more than two years of higher education, health care and agency internship experiences under her belt. She will join Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s interactive marketing team as an intern in May, and she is searching for a full-time public relations position in Columbus.