What I wish I knew when I was young


Career Advice from the Communications Professionals

By Guinnevere King, August 7, 2016

I enjoyed attending the “What I Wish I Knew when I was a Young Pro” event presented by Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) New Pros at Outlet Coworking in Midtown Sacramento. The panel was led by Julie Hooper, Director of Public Affairs at Randle Communications, John Frith, APR, Owner of The Write Stuff Communications and Patrick Harbison, Owner and Executive Director of PHPR Agency.

One of my favorite things to do at PRSA New Pros events is arrive early and to meet other aspiring professionals. These events are always a great opportunity to reconnect with colleagues and fellow new professionals in the communications field. Before each event, the atmosphere is always friendly and vibrant.

At this event, after everyone had an opportunity to mingle with guests and speakers, Patrick Storm, President of PRSA California Chapter and Director of Lemon Tree Agency, kicked off the panel discussion with several career questions, prompting speakers to share advice and to help New Pros learn alternative paths to take toward their own dream careers.

  1. “What were your career goals as a new professional in communications? Are you at the point you thought you would be at it this time?”

Julie Hooper, Director of Public Affairs at Randle Communications earned her B.A. of Political Science at UC Davis. Julie is passionate about public affairs and public relations. She landed an internship after graduation through Sacramento State’s Capital Fellows program and started working at the State Legislature. Throughout her internship, Julie became more knowledgeable in policies and learned how to influence public perception on different issues. Julie found her career at Randle Communications because she wanted to keep the fast paced direction in public affairs and wanted to explore challenging opportunities in public relations.

John Frith, APR, and Owner of The Write Stuff Communications earned his B.A. of Journalism at University of Southern California. John began his career as a newspaper reporter before making the switch to PR when he was offered a job as a congressional press secretary. Without a background in PR, he found his new job challenging but he took the self-starter approach and learned all he could about public relations. Currently, he has the best of both worlds, practicing both journalism and public relations.

Patrick Harbison Owner and Executive Director of PHPR Agency earned his B.A. at Sacramento State in Communications Studies with a concentration of Public Relations. Patrick always knew he wanted to own of his agency and after graduating, he joined organizations and went to social mixers that aligned with his interests so he could reach his goal. Patrick always knew to be successful, he need to continuously make connections and maintain strong relationships with media. Patrick had a clear idea of what he needed to do in order to excel as a communications professional.

  1. “What were some steps you took early on in your career that helped you advance and progress in your role?”

“Prioritize earned media connections in radio, print and television. Say yes to every networking event that aligns with industry key influencers.” – Patrick Harbison

“Stay involved in PRSA, SPRA and other organizations that offer educational, networking opportunities because it is very important to stay up to date and connected.” – John Frith

“Working hard by watching PRSA webinars, listening to social media marketing podcasts and surrounding yourself with people that stretch you.” – Julie Hooper

  1. “What are some of the things you wish you could tell people before they walked in and sat across from you trying to get a job?”

 “Spend a little more time researching the organization, company and what they are sharing on social media because it shows your enthusiasm and what you are interested in.” – Julie Hooper

“What separates the person from who gets the job and who doesn’t? Their attitude, researching the interviewer and company, ask questions, take the extra steps to learn and sell yourself to the hiring manager that you are a good fit.” – John Frith

“Use a PR strategy to figure out who the employer is, hiring person and stalk them online to find a mutual acquaintance that both parties share and work that extra angle so you have a way in before you get there. Use any leverage to get the job and showing your worth after you received the job.” – Patrick Harbison

  1. “What is one mistake you made early on in your career and how did you grow and learn from it?”

 “Saying yes to every client at an under rate to beat other competition and get the client. Don’t undervalue yourself because there will be a financial expectation from newer clients. Find a good balance to make money and a steady income, but it shouldn’t come at a cost to your professional career and personal happiness.” – Patrick Harbison

“Remember, the successful employee makes the boss look good and you want to do everything you can to make your boss’ job easier. Don’t say no to opportunities even if it is going to be increasing your workload, always try to be the person to step up and take the added responsibility because it will benefit you in the long run.”  – John Frith

“Remembering details matter. Having aspirational goals and recognizing you are not going to get the corner office tomorrow. Still grow and experience what you are doing now and not thinking about what you are going to do next.” – Julie Hooper

  1. “What are good questions to follow up with after the interview?”

“Don’t ask about how much the job is going to pay. Ask about how you can help with some of the issues the organization is currently facing. Demonstrate you have the ability and knowledge to do what the company is about.” – John Frith

“You don’t ask questions you don’t know the answer to. Tell the interviewer what you are passionate about and ask if they can accommodate those special skills because it shows you have a value to what they might be interested in using and they will follow up with it. Ask a strength you know the answer to and it will help you come across more confidently towards the end of an interview.” – Patrick Storm

“Human connection. Everyone loves to talk about themselves. Ask them a question about their background to show your interest and it allows the interviewer to share and connect with you on a more personal level.” – Julie Hooper

“Show your true personality and express yourself especially if you have quirks because it sets you apart from other candidates, but don’t go overboard.” – Patrick Harbison


  1. “What is a good way to introduce yourself at a networking mixer?”

“Vodka. Offer to buy a round because it is a nice way to break the ice. Ask them about why they are there and see if they are related to the organization. Be open and be engaged. Don’t be intimidated. Use it as an opportunity to meet new people in the room.” – Patrick Harbison

“Talk to somebody about themselves. What organization are you here with? And ask about what they do there because people really love to talk about themselves.” – John Frith

“Challenge yourself to meet new people.” – Julie Hooper

 “Make a game with your friends and challenge them to earn more business cards than you. Reach out to them afterwards through LinkedIn messaging or sending an email about how nice it was to meet them. Strike while the iron is hot.” – Patrick Storm

Finally, the panel finished after each speaker gave their best advice to help new professionals learn the do’s & don’ts in finding a job. After properly shaking hands and thanking each panelist, business cards were exchanged for future follow up.

The most  valuable bit of information I walked away with this was from Patrick Storm who said, “your happiness has value because no amount of money is going to make it worthwhile and it is going to make your performance suffer if you are unhappy, which is going to make you look bad.”

To get a recap of the “What I Wish I Knew when I was a Young Pro,” panel, visit PRSA’s California Capital Chapter’s Facebook to watch recorded video. Stay up to date with panelists by following @randlecomm, @JulieHooper, @JohnFrith and stay in the know with chapter news: @PRSASacramento on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn