As the final year of college approaches for aspiring PR pros, so does the stress of preparing for a career after graduation. Students often fear that they are behind, or that they do not have the experience necessary to land a job right out of school. However, as a recent college graduate who dove headfirst into agency life, I am here to tell you that you are exactly where you need to be. It is not too late to establish an impressive skillset before graduation. Some of the most essential skills you need to begin your career are different than the technical PR skills people often associate with the job. 

While knowledge in PR related responsibilities can give you a leg up during the interview process (it never hurts to have some PR experience!), hiring managers are often far more impressed with proficiencies in interpersonal skills, adaptability and organization. Practice these three skills while you embark on your final year in college and you will be ready for a career in PR in no time! 

Interpersonal Skills

Client Work

No matter if you are working at a small firm and are placed on multiple accounts or at a large firm and are on a team focused on one client, you are going to be working with people outside of your company. You will find that sometimes your clients do not prioritize the same kinds of communication etiquette that you do. Knowing how to communicate effectively and appropriately with people of all kinds of temperaments is an important skill employers look for. 

How to achieve these skills

Learn your clients’ language. Have you ever been spoken to where someone is using industry terms that you do not understand? It does not feel great to be left out of the loop- especially when you are trying to get on the same page. Not every client is going to have PR or communications experience, and ‘PR-talk’ will mean nothing to them. Avoid this by researching your clients’ industry before you meet so that you are able to communicate your point to them in a respectful and understandable way. 

Team Work

Each team that you are on will have its own preferred communication practices. Learning how to collaborate in a way that serves your team proactively will reflect in not only the quality of work that you produce, but also the quality of your company as a whole. To quote my father, who has years of team leadership experience and is full of insightful advice, the goal is for your team to run like a finely tuned Swiss watch. Otherwise meaning: precisely, reliably and beautifully. 

How to achieve these skills

  • Set communication standards right off the bat. Learn how your teammates like to be contacted, addressed and spoken to. 
  • Respond to teammates in a timely manner and be sure to provide your work by the set deadlines.
  • If you need someone to review your work or help you out, give them a heads up and ask them a few days in advance as not to bombard them with last-minute tasks. 

How to practice this while you are still in school: 

Interpersonal communication skills can be easily applied to group work in a college setting. Think about the kinds of communication needed to succeed in this setting, and put your skills to the test! 


Some of the most admirable qualities a person can have while working at a PR agency are how quickly they can adapt to a new setting and their willingness to learn new things. Life moves a mile a minute in PR, and client needs and expectations change daily. By having a growth mindset and understanding that plans change, trends move quickly and occasionally (hopefully not often!) crises need to be managed, you will stand out as an ideal candidate.   

How to achieve these skills

Let go of your pride and realize that while you may be right about certain things, there is a lot in the world that you still need to learn. This never changes! People that have worked in the industry for years still have to learn how to adapt. You may be talented at certain task and then one day there will be a more efficient or updated way to do it. That is okay. It is not an attack on you, so do not take it personally- just be willing to grow! 

How to practice this while you are still in school: 

  • Pay attention to the edits and feedback given on your assignments.
  • Take note on trends that are happening in industries that you have interest in. 
  • Read different formats of writing to learn how to pick up on various writing tones. 

Time Management and Organization

PR pros know how to juggle their time wisely. Whether it is organizing meetings all week (some scheduled and many impromptu), finishing projects with a hard deadline or scheduling times to pitch the media, time management is a must have. 

How to achieve these skills

  • Create to-do lists. It is often helpful to have an ongoing to-do list so that you can see all of your tasks at hand. You can also mark/color code your priorities and know which tasks to complete first. 
  • Heads-down time. It can be difficult get started on tasks when you are in and out of meetings all day. Set blocks of time out of your day to work on specific projects in order to give yourself the time to focus. 
  • Calendar apps are your new best friend! Keep track of your meetings and priorities via a calendar. Choose to be notified about certain events coming up in case you need an extra reminder. 

How to practice this while you are still in school: 

  • Chances are that you have already got a solid organization plan down. If you do not, play around with different kinds of life organizing and see what works best for you! For example, I have never been great about keeping a day-by-day agenda, but a running priority tracker, updating my calendar and to-do lists do wonders for me! It takes time to figure these preferences out, so give new techniques a try until you have found one that works best with your life.
  • If you are feeling overwhelmed with the number of tasks that you have at hand, give some heads-down time a chance. It feels nice to block everything else out and work on one project at a time.