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Navigating the Marketing, Communications and Public Relations Industry as a Young Pro

Zane Landin

Public Relations Student Society of America National Committee members and undergraduate PR student, Zane Landin, will discuss how young professionals are breaking into the marketing communications industry and adapting during these times. Zane will be discussing how young pros can stand out, contribute to the evolution of traditional ideas of marketing, and overcome obstacles in professional development in the face of COVID-19.

Matthew Cummings: I >would imagine in your role as VP of career services for PRSSA, that it comes with a mix of working with students so they can ready themselves for a long career in this field, but also advocating for students. What do you think is unique about young people, and what they bring to the table as they're entering the field that employers should really be excited about?

Zane Landin: I think that young people have a resilience mindset, and that a lot of young people are not necessarily going by the status quo anymore. I think that's super exciting with PR and communications. The amount that young people will be able to do when they enter the workforce will be unimaginable. I'm really excited how the field will change, because of the minds of millennials, or Gen Z, because of the different mindset they grew up with. They may have more innovative ideas on how to engage audiences, making sales. I think that they just bring resiliency. Especially, when it comes to social issues, and just changes to make our society a better place.

Matthew Cummings: What does the future of public relations look like in your mind?

Zane Landin: It's hard to gauge what's going to happen in the future, but I hope, and can imagine that public relations will be taken way more seriously. What I will say about the pandemic, it has not been more clear to me, that PR is definitely essential when it comes to any emergencies, or anything that needs to be addressed very quickly. Businesses had to adapt so quickly to the pandemic, and they had to get information out fast. I hope post-pandemic that there'll be a flux of PR people coming in and more people are interested in this field.

Matthew Cummings: How has COVID-19 impacted your expectations for entering the workforce as a young professional.

Zane Landin: I will say that unfortunately COVID-19 has put a damper on the interactions and the experience that you've gained through internships. There’s just an odd feeling about doing everything online. During the summer, I really felt disconnected with my coworkers and employers, because I didn't even get to see some of them. I didn't feel like I was getting as many hands on experiences that make internships memorable. That's not the fault of the employer, of course, that's just kind of how it is right now. I hope that we can try to find a way to improve engagement, figure out a way to foster interns and give them more opportunities. It's just really hard to build connections right now, because everything is online. When it comes to a culture of care, my expectations are that the workforce needs to be more cognizant and aware of mental health and diversity and inclusion.

Matthew Cummings: What do you think is the biggest fear that young professionals have entering our field? How can experienced professionals help in calming that fear?

Zane Landin: The fear was that I won't have a job after graduation, and what am I supposed to do? I think a lot of students are experiencing that. I know a lot of students that tell me, "I'm applying for a hundred jobs. I have not heard anything yet, and I don't know what to do." I think employers and professionals can just open themselves up. They can create mentorship program, have employers or professionals be open to mentorship and mentor these students. I think that's the biggest thing right now that students need, and have always needed. We needed these things before COVID, but now that COVID has happened, we need them 10 times more. If you can't find a mentorship program, there's a lot of different resources where you can find mentors. You can use LinkedIn to find public relations professionals and see people that may be working in your desire to field. If you go on LinkedIn, and you go on your school page, there's an alumni section, and you can filter out where they work, what they do. You can reach out to them and say, "Oh, I see you graduated from my university with a communication major and you work at Google. Can we just sit and chat about what it's like to work at Google? Do you have any advice for a young person like me wanting to get involved?" Another thing that students really can utilize is reaching out to alumni or reaching out to their alumni office to help them connect with people.

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