Attention Students and Young PR Pros: Add Patience to Your Skills Sets

Attention Students and Young PR Pros: Add Patience to Your Skills Sets
November 20, 2014 Doug Haslam

By Kirk Hazlett, APR, Fellow PRS

(Note: This blog article originally appeared on A Professor’s Thoughts)

As a (now) “professional” teacher doing my thing at Curry College introducing young undergraduate communication majors and others to my own lifelong career choice/passion of public relations, I talk about a lot of stuff. (Just ask ’em… they’ll tell you!)

Communication skills, relationship building, internships, and job skills the list can and does go on and on.

It occurred to me recently, though, that I’ve sort of missed one of the more important aspects of successful professional life… patience.

I talk about getting things done quickly, efficiently, and effectively, but I don’t really spend enough time talking about the role that patience plays in getting those things done.

I know this isn’t an earth-shattering concept, but it has really become apparent to me while I’ve been on vacation how valuable patience can be. (Note to cynics: I mean this in a positive sense!)

  • Communication skills are developed over time. There’s not a pill that you can take that will make you a great communicator.
  • Relationships are the same. They’re developed slowly and carefully. It’s not “speed-dating.”
  • Internships are a way for you to figure out what it is you like and don’t like doing or what you are not great at. This takes time and usually happens over the course of several internships.
  • Job skills come with experience, which means you spend time doing things in order to learn how to do them well.

I’m not naïve enough to believe that I’ve found the “secret sauce” that will change your life.

But I do know that when practiced patience can do wonders for your health, happiness, and ultimate success in your professional life.

All too often, I get panicky/irritated/confused messages from former or current students that go something like this: “I sent my resume two days ago and haven’t heard anything. What’s going on?” Or, “I’ve been in this position for six months now and haven’t gotten a promotion. I need to find another job.”

I know we all want things to happen when we want them to happen. But that’s not how the world works.

Your priorities are not their priorities. (However, to my past, present, and future students my deadlines had better become your deadlines! “Due in class” does not mean “later this afternoon at your convenience.”

Instant gratification… something that, I would venture to say is becoming the expected norm for emerging generations thanks to today’s online, ever-connected world…is not realistic.

As the saying goes, “All things come to those who wait.”

I’m not preaching procrastination here. Nor am I suggesting that delay is always acceptable.

How about this, though?

At the beginning… before you start firing out resumes… ask someone who’s been there what he or she thinks is an appropriate amount of time to wait before following up on a job application. (Students, this is where your Career Development Center comes into play… talk to them!!)

Or early on, when you’ve settled into your new job, talk with a co-worker or your supervisor about “how things work” so far as promotions, raises, etc., go. (Note: Work in these questions with those about “best practices” in the workplace, etc… performance-related questions.)

There’s nothing wrong with showing an active interest in your future. It shows you care and are serious about your professional life.

It also acknowledges your recognition that you are just starting out and are looking for guidance from those who are more experienced.

Then… take a deep breath… and be patient!


About the Author: Kirk Hazlett, APR, Fellow PRSA, is associate professor of communication (undergraduate) at Curry College in Milton. Prior to his move into academia, Kirk practiced nonprofit and government public relations and marketing for more than 35 years in the U.S. as well as Asia. Accredited by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), Kirk was inducted into PRSA’s prestigious College of Fellows in 2009 and is one of just two actively teaching college               professors in Massachusetts to have earned this distinction. He is a member of PRSA’s Board of Ethics and Professional Standards. You can read more of Kirk’s musings on his blog “A Professor’s Thought”.


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