Guest blogger Samantha Starr currently serves as a Senior Account Executive for DEVENEY, an engagement agency that handles everything from public relations and social media to craft design and advertisement. She leads both PR and Advertising accounts including Keep Louisiana Beautiful, Bayou Rum, Fisher & Phillips L.L.P, Prospect New Orleans and NEW ORELANS WILL. Before joining the DEVENEY team, Samantha began her career as an intern for Paula Rosado Public Relations in New York City. Samantha graduated from the Manship School of Mass Communication in December 2013 with a concentration in Public Relations.

New Orleans Photography by Adrienne Battistella

Samantha Starr, 2013 Graduate of the Manship School

You’ve just graduated college; maybe you’ve landed a sweet internship or your first job. The first thing you realize (or at least I did): there is a big, wide world in the communication industry and you have to find your place in it. You learn pretty quickly that specializing in something, becoming an expert, will get you far in this industry. But fresh off the graduation stage, how do you decide what the best fit is for you?

The answer: you never stop learning! That’s right, lessons will always be a part of your career. The best way to figure out what your niche in the communication world is to try everything. Agencies are a great place to find your niche because they do a wide variety of work for many different clients. And don’t be shy, speak up. If something interests you, volunteer to assist with as many projects and tasks as possible. This will help you figure out a few things:

  1. Your ideal client or industry:

The amount of “focus areas” agencies specialize in are far more than I care to count. A focus area refers to the type of client that an agency represents. Agencies typically specialize in a few focus areas such as travel and tourism, health care, crisis communication, nonprofits, food and beverage, entertainment, sports and the list goes on. Working with a diverse set of clients will help you hone your interests, allowing you to choose a specialized career path.

  1. The type of work you enjoy most:

You’ve just graduated with a degree specializing in PR, so you like doing PR work right? Don’t be so sure. Many agencies today are moving to an integrated approach in order offer clients full service. Get your feet wet in other aspects of the industry, such as assisting an advertising account executive with a direct mail project, the social media manager with content strategy – each really are quite a different gig from traditional PR. And you can only benefit from viewing each work day as an opportunity for professional development.

The PR umbrella alone holds a world full of specialties from traditional pitching and reputation management to developing strategic plans and event coordination. Some you may enjoy more than others. But remember, jump in where you can for real-world, first-hand, valuable experience.

  1. Your super powers:

Most of the time you’ll excel at the work you’re genuinely passionate about, but you might find there are other skills that come naturally. Let’s be real – who graduates college knowing everything you’re good at? Not me. Jumping into new situations allow you to show off your assets and explore other strengths to contribute in different situations.

Above all, gaining a wide variety of experience while trying to find your niche in this giant industry will provide you with a large repertoire of skills to add to your resume. Becoming a specialist is important, but developing a diverse skillset from the onset of your career will only help establish your position as an eager go-getter ready to take on anything.