With summer in full swing, it’s easy to waste away in front of a television with a season of The Office under your belt and a burrito bowl on your lap (definitely not speaking from experience, just heard from a…friend). To avoid “brain drain,” try taking advantage of the off months to hone in on skills that you’ve considered trying out but that pesky 8 a.m. lab just wouldn’t let you.
Here are some of the professional skills that I am hoping to grow while I’m away from school for the next few months:
Graphic design is no longer just an option for public relations practitioners. No matter what realm of public relations you’re in, you will likely come across a need to incorporate some sort of graphic design element in your work — and it’s nothing to fear! Make graphic design less intimidating by starting small. Playing around with the different tools that each software program has to offer is a low-stress way to familiarize yourself with graphic design and get those creative wheels turning.
Google Analytics is incredibly useful software — it’s also extremely complex. Give yourself a leg up by passing the exam and earning your certification. There are plenty of study guides and tips available for those who, like myself, are petrified of the idea of an online software exam. The material is broken up into digestible chunks, perfect for reviewing between Netflix binges.
Prior to this summer, I was not convinced that a working knowledge of coding could benefit public relations professionals, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how useful it can be. Want to create interactive infographics to demonstrate the results of a campaign? Or sort through a list of one thousand different reporters to find the ones you need to contact? Coding has got you covered. Coding is all about details and efficiency: two words that all PR professionals live by.
You probably saw this one coming a mile away. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been told to start a blog, but how could I, an aggressively average college student, have anything interesting or worthwhile to say? Yet here we are. Blogging is an excellent way to stretch your creative muscles and experiment with different writing styles. Think about the kind of blogs that you enjoy reading, and go from there. Choose a topic, throw your inhibitions to the wind, and start writing!
One of the greatest things about public relations is the learning never stops. Take the time to invest in yourself and practice these skills. You and your future employers will thank you!
*Cassie Downey is a student practitioner at Martin Waymire and a senior at The University of Alabama. She is majoring in public relations with a minor in Spanish.