The annual Meet the Professionals event at Southampton Solent is a valuable networking event for students. This year it was in the newly completed Spark building and attracted a much bigger crowd.
It is a fantastic opportunity for Southampton students studying public relations, advertising, marketing and creative subjects to see what’s available in the local area, network and pick up valuable advice.
I went on a pretty long journey to get where I am today and a key part of that journey was sending myself back to university to do a PR Masters in 2014. I’m hugely passionate about PR and feel that the wonderful education Southampton Solent University gave me was an important contribution in my progression. It’s given me wonderful opportunities and still does.
One of those opportunities happened at the start of February 2016, I was invited to attend the CIPR hosted Meet the Professionals event, to represent my current company Lee Peck Media.
25 media professionals attended to offer help and advice to current students in the creative industries at a speed-networking event. Yes, this is a bit like speed dating, all the professionals stay seated while every 10 minutes the students rotate around the room.
I spoke to lots of students across the evening and even managed to network myself a little.
Lauren Witty, the current Wessex CIPR student representative, did an excellent job at getting a large mix of regional professionals to attend. 25 in total – the best turn out in the events history. It was easily double the size of when I last attended this event in 2014. Congratulations Lauren – your hard work paid off!
Laura Bradley, one of the students who attended, has written a great blog on her site The PR Girl with five key points that she took away from the event. I am always interested to see what people find notable and the advice they gain from these kind of events and whether that information was useful or not. It’s great to see that Laura’s experience was very positive and the key points were useful ones!
Obviously, I am now on the other side, so I thought I’d give you my five key recommendations from the Meet the Professionals event. These were the most popular things that I said in response to students questions that evening:
Be brave – This isn’t easy. It’s daunting out there but be brave, professionals and companies were once where you were. We all start somewhere.
Grow a thick skin – You are going to get some knock-backs, but it’s time to man up and be more elephant! Learn what you can from these experiences, can you get feedback? As soon as you can pick yourself back up, dust yourself down and keep going, your opportunity is out there. No, seriously, put that Ben and Jerry’s down and grab yourself a Kleenex – you can do this!
Never stop learning – Don’t be afraid to enrol yourself on courses, speak to your peers, ask for advice or shadow a colleague. The industry is evolving all the time, but don’t worry there are many ways to keep your skills together including your CIPR membership, you tube, the infinite resource that is Google, online courses, local colleges and universities.
Find a way – If it’s your dream industry or company and you’ve tried and failed to get in through a direct application can you get another job with them and then side step in to what you want? This could be an option. I did, so can you!
Dig the journey – Unless you are the luckiest so and so, and if you are count your blessings, don’t worry if your journey is the path less travelled. Don’t worry if it takes you longer than others to figure out where and what you want to do, you will learn so much that will contribute to your future, more desired, career (and life in general).
Here’s a selection of my tweets from the event:
Thanks to everyone involved – I hope to see you there next year!