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I recently participated in the PRSA New Pros Brown Bag discussion “What PR Bosses Wish Their New PR Pros Would Do But Won’t Tell Them” led by Michael Smart.

My first thought upon signing up for the discussion was – how rude! I’m pretty certain my bosses want me to succeed, so why would they keep valuable, career-advancing information from me?

Well, that’s not the case.  The point Smart was really trying to drive home is not that your boss is keeping secrets and playing mind games to see how you react (at least most of them are not) . Rather, as a new pro, it is our responsibility to be proactive and not wait for our bosses to tell us what we should – or should not – be doing.

Of course, the “correct” way varies from person to person, agency to agency, boss to boss. During the course of our careers, we will meet micro-managers, macro-managers, supervisors for PR, supervisors that will never understand PR, coworkers we will butt heads with and those we will want to be our best friends. The first few years of your career will teach you how to deal with every walk of life and how to create your own identity.

Unfortunately for millennials – who now largely make up the young professional demographic – their identities have already been etched in many hiring managers’ and supervisors’ minds.

Millennials are known for acting privileged, misplacing priorities and all around feeling overqualified for many of the jobs available to them post-college. It’s a sad truth, but, according to Smart, it is the truth. He was recently a part of a human resources discussion in which “dealing with millennials” was addressed, citing these flaws.

While far from being fair, New Pros need to break this stereotype and show their bosses that they are the real deal. Some advice:

  • Always error on the side of professionalism. Perhaps the biggest difference in the latest generation to enter the work force and its predecessors is that millennials are comfortable having public lives, that is, are more likely to share personal information on public social networks. If ever in doubt if something is SFW, don’t risk it, don’t post it.
  • Be accountable. Own all your projects no matter what obstacles you encounter. Don’t bring the obstacles to your boss until you have solutions you can propose.
  • Brag. Really. Show off your accomplishments, finished work and prove your worth. Remember- it’s about the results.
  • You want your boss to NOT think about you – the employees he or she is thinking about are the ones he or she is worried about. You want to be able to let your boss leave early on a Friday before a three-day weekend with the confidence that you are holding everything down.

Lastly, if you have any concerns within your position, schedule a time to talk with your boss. Write down all your concerns, goals and ideas. Just be sure to be as quick and convenient as possible, accommodating others first.

Stephanie Lough
Stephanie Lough
A former HMA Public Relations employee.

7 Comments

  1. Joey Wilhelm says:

    This is some great advice, especially for the kids who will be entering the work force from the “everybody’s a winner” generation. Also I have to say, this can really apply very well to all career paths — not just PR. Working in web development, I have to follow a similar set of guidelines or I would get nowhere.

    • Stephanie Lough says:

      Great point – this is really advice for all fields.

      It is a tough spot millennials are in, and this is just speaking from my own experiences, because while I agree that we are the “privileged” generation, we are also some of the most competitive, cut-throat, over-achievers of any generation. It’s interesting how much this was pointed out when applying for college – that we had to be in every extra-curricular and get the highest grades and test scores to be worth anything. Now, post-college we are “the extended adolescents”. Maybe we just got burned out working our butts off in school, only to graduate during one of the worst economic times.

      But that’s another blog post entirely 🙂

  2. Smart had some smart things to say.

    • Stephanie Lough says:

      Zing!

      If only the same could be said of Michael Scott. But then I don’t think The Office would have been nearly as successful.

  3. David Landis says:

    Stephanie – I would also add that you need to learn how to manage “up.” By that, I mean, anticipate what your boss needs to know BEFORE he/she asks and deliver added value without your superior asking for it. Don’t just do what you’re told, anticipate what comes next, and present new and innovative ideas on a daily basis. Above all, demonstrate results. And, make sure you stay later (and arrive earlier) than your boss. Great post. Cheers, The Boss in San Francisco (David Landis)

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