As the job search process heats up this spring, the seemingly endless possibilities and deadlines can feel overwhelming. Entering your first professional experience can also feel quite daunting. Check out these 10 tips from Public Affairs Communications students to help focus your search and find success in your professional life.
Abby Peacock is a third-year PAC student majoring in journalism. Last summer, she was a legislative intern in the Office of Rep. Andrew Clyde in Washington DC.
Tip: Be observant! Take notice of the stressors in your supervisor’s day and intentionally find ways to help.
“As an intern for a member of congress, I quickly noticed how busy each day could become. My supervisors would often have so much on their plate that it was difficult for them to pause and look for ways for me to help. I started to intentionally take notice of the tasks that I could assist with. Once I took initiative and offered to help with something specific, my supervisors gained a greater trust in me. They started to give me more responsibility, which allowed me to learn more and cultivate important skills. I highly encourage people to take initiative in their jobs or internships by simply being observant, because it will lead to a more intentional, impactful experience.”
Bryson Henriott is a fourth-year PAC student double majoring in political science and public relations with an Applied Politics certificate and a Personal and Organizational Leadership certificate. Last summer, he was a government relations intern for The Home Depot in Washington DC.
Tip: Show up!
“It seems simple but just showing up is half of success. There were so many opportunities I got to experience because if my boss ever asked if I could do something, go with him somewhere, or to go meet someone I always said yes. I always grew up hearing “hard work beats talent when talent does not work hard.” Everyone at UGA is talented or they would not be here but that extra step of hard work and showing up is what separates you from everyone else. People take notice of those who say yes, show up early, and do even the mundane tasks as perfectly as possible. If you show up, doors will start to open.”
Elise Kim is a fourth-year PAC student double majoring in journalism and international affairs with a minor in Spanish. Last summer, she conducted research for the Student Press Law Center and worked part-time as a media monitor for PLUS Communications in Washington DC.
Tip: Start looking for jobs/internships as early as possible and take advantage of the resources that UGA has to offer!
“When I got accepted to the Grady DC Internship and Field Study program last summer, I knew I would have to find an internship. However, I felt very indecisive about what type of position I actually wanted to apply for, so I kept putting it off. Eventually, it was April and I still hadn’t applied to anything because I felt so paralyzed by my fear of choosing the wrong internship that I didn’t even have any to choose from. Thankfully, I was eventually able to find some opportunities and I ended up learning a lot from the whole experience. I now know how important it is to start your search early and to just start applying to places, even if you aren’t 100% sure you could see yourself there—that’s nearly impossible to know just by reading a job description or looking at a website anyway. I also realized that I need to take advantage of as many of the resources that UGA has for its students as I can. I am graduating in May, so I am currently in the job search process and I have been able to get really helpful guidance from the career center.”
Austin Clark is a fourth-year PAC student double majoring in political science and public relations. Last summer, he was a communications intern in the Office of Sen. Jon Ossoff in Washington DC.
Tip: Be a planner and convener!
“Everybody who starts an internship is looking to make new connections and find new friends. Capitalize on that need by stepping up and planning after work and weekend hangouts at restaurants, museums, or coffee shops. Those who show up will be thankful for an out of work opportunity to chat with their colleagues, and associate you as someone who can bring people together. At the end of the day professionals are only as strong as their network – strengthen yours by offering a low stakes, low pressure environment to truly get to know your colleagues!”
Anna Womack is a third-year PAC student majoring in public relations with a minor in communication studies and a Personal and Organizational Leadership Certificate. Last summer, she was a public relations intern at Sloane & Company in New York City.
Tip: Don’t forget the importance of networking!
“Everyone says networking is important. While we are all oftentimes annoyed by the saying, it means everything in today’s industry. Throughout my internship, I tried to always go above and beyond and leave something a little bit better than I found it. In doing this, I prioritized building connections with my superiors and coworkers, and it has paid off now as I am in the job search process. Networking in New York City was nothing short of daunting, but it has expanded my connections outside of Georgia and taught me so much about the industry in other places.”
Cale Ledford is a third-year PAC student majoring in public relations. He has worked as a tour leader with the UGA Visitors Center in Athens, Georgia since the fall of 2021.
Tip: Be willing to get out of your comfort zone.
“When I started with the UGA Visitors Center, I had a lot of self doubt and felt like I was not qualified for the job. That sense of imposter syndrome kept me from becoming a better tour leader. All of that changed last summer when I gave upwards of 100 tours and worked over 150 hours at the Visitors Center. Almost every day of the summer, I had to get out of my comfort zone and develop my own tour of UGA. Getting out of my comfort zone helped me lose the self-doubt that I had and gave me the opportunity to develop some of my favorite memories from college so far. In the end, it is human nature to want to stay in your comfort zone, but I encourage you to defy the odds and try something different, because it could end up changing your life.”
Sydney Bennett is a fourth-year PAC student majoring in public relations with a minor in communication studies. Last summer, she was a marketing and content intern for Powtoon in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Tip: Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
“While my job was PR based, I was a member of the marketing team. I had never done much marketing work besides in my intro to marketing class at UGA. There were tons of terms being thrown around in meetings that I didn’t understand. I was by far the youngest person in the room and one of the only Americans, so I was always afraid to speak up and ask for clarification in fear of sounding uneducated or dumb. I am so glad I did because I learned so much from asking clarification questions and was able to use these new terms in my work and projects. I think that in a job or internship it is important to ask questions to be sure you do your work correctly and well.”
Sarah Dorr is a fourth-year PAC student majoring in public relations with a minor in general business. Last summer, she was a public relations intern for PR Consulting in New York City.
Tip: Utilize UGA’s vast alumni network!
“If you’re struggling to find an internship, especially in a new city, I recommend centering your search around alumni. LinkedIn has great filters where you can sort UGA alumni by industry and location. Once you have your filtered list, see what opportunities are available where they work and reach out! UGA and especially Grady alumni are so enthusiastic about helping fellow Dawgs out in any way they can. This approach to the internship search was such a game changer for me when it came to finding my position in New York City!”
Jenna Monnin is a fourth-year PAC student double majoring in journalism and political science. Last summer, she was the Hotline Editorial intern for National Journal and a policy intern for Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press in Washington DC.
Tip: Use informational interviews to build your network and focus your job search!
“Not everyone knows exactly what kind of job they are looking for, and that is O.K.! I am interested in both journalism and politics, so it was really hard for me to narrow down my options while searching for an internship in DC last summer. Networking always felt a bit artificial to me, so I had to change my outlook on the entire process. Not every coffee meeting, zoom, or phone call needs to end with you getting a result or a “win” in your job search. Treat these networking opportunities like informational interviews and be curious. Speaking with professionals in my network allowed me to gain a better understanding of what I was going to encounter in the real world and helped me focus on attainable opportunities in DC.”
Anna Chapman is a fourth-year PAC student majoring in journalism. Last summer, she was a social media fellow for the Georgia First Amendment Foundation in Atlanta, Georgia and also worked remotely as a scheduling intern in the Office of Sen. Jon Ossoff.
Tip: Ask for clarification if you don’t understand something!
“Never, ever feel ashamed for asking for clarification about something you’re tasked with completing. Your supervisors have probably worked in this field a lot longer than you have and may assume you understand something when you actually need a bit more guidance. While working with the Georgia First Amendment Foundation, I’ve had to create communications content about complex legal decisions and processes. I ask my supervisors to read my copy and ensure I have accurately and succinctly conveyed the events without misrepresenting the legal matters.”