It has been exactly a year and five months since I graduated Florida International University (F.I.U.). Still, it feels like I was packing lunches to study in the library last week…
F.I.U. was the best experience of my life. I am forever grateful for the professional knowledge my communications professors provided. The issue with college is that one semester really is not long enough to cram years of experience into. Needless to say, there’s a lot of information that falls through the cracks. Professors are coerced into being more focused on passing rates than actually guiding students’ transition into the professional arena.
College students often consider getting a job to be the biggest issue they are going to face after graduation. What is not being taught, is that the real difficulty comes with maintaining your position within that job. It’s one thing to accept a job offer and another thing to actually work and continuously meet all expectations covered within the position.
“Welcome to reality; here’s your desk, here’s your new email address, here’s some random documents on our server, here’s your first 5 assignments, figure it out, good luck!” – Part-time receptionist at the front desk.
This is NOT a joke.
The dirty truth is, the lion din is a place where you either make it or you don’t.
Thankfully, you don’t really die after your first job (although sometimes it feels like it). Instead, you get another job and prep yourself with the knowledge of past failures and prepare for the lions once more. And you do this again and again, until you – somehow – survive. Even then, survival is an everyday battle.
A little dramatic? You don’t know the half of it.
The first skill I wish my professors prepared me to develop before I graduate is ATTENTION TO DETAIL. For some this comes naturally, for others it’s a learned talent. This is especially important for those in communications. Every letter, every design, every email, every project needs consistency and correctness. Don’t trust spellcheck or even your own eyes. Print every document before it is sent and check it twice more after you think it’s good to go. FYI Adobe programs don’t have spellcheck– learned it the hard way once. To help me develop this skill later on, I started solving word searches and reading articles much more often.
Secondly, I wish more professors taught me how to work under time restraints and pressure. After I graduated college I was so used to due dates that extended past several days or even weeks. When I first was handed an assignment at work due immediately, I completely panicked. Panic is everyone’s kryptonite in an office setting. It usually brings huge mistakes and irresponsible overlooks with it. I have never made as many mistakes as I have in an agency where all I did all day was put out fires and work with minute-long deadlines. Therefore, I believe quick exercises that require students to develop a project or train of thought within a short time would be a great addition to the classroom.
Developing a creative, make-it-up-as-you-go attitude can really do wonders within the communications field. In college, we have little room to develop critical thinking skills since we are have been taught what/how to think starting as early as elementary school. In a workplace, your boss will never hand you a nicely outlined prompt for you to highlight and circle. Here there are no guidelines. Here there are no rubrics of how to successfully approach a project. There is only a client/supervisor with an idea you must breathe life into correctly, the first time you approach it.
I hope this post will help others out there, rather it be a student or a professor, to see where they can strengthen themselves to prepare for a smooth transition into the professional world of communications.
Good luck out there,