Last summer I did something crazy. In the midst of a heated job search, I quit my existing job, put my belongings in storage and embarked on a cross-country road trip with a fellow PRSSA National Committee alumnae. Fortunately, this alumnae knows me well enough not to question my seemingly out of character actions and was willing to join the adventure.
While I do not recommend everyone quit their jobs and take a cross-country road trip, I do think it’s important to listen to your instincts and take big risks while you’re young. This experience taught me valuable lessons I continue to apply in my new career. I hope other PRSSA members will find them useful in getting to where they want to be.
Take strategic risks. Quitting my job without a new one was a big risk, but it was also a calculated one. At the time, I was averaging at least one interview per day and trying to relocate to a larger city. It was more strategic to make interviewing a full-time job than it was to waste my employer’s time during the process. Taking the risk was nerve-wracking, but it led to an unforgettable adventure that helped me get to where I am today. Given the choice, it’s a risk I’d take again.
It’s important to take a break. If you aren’t even 25 and already feel burned out, that’s a problem. Temporarily pulling myself away from work was like hitting a reset button. I went back to doing the things I loved: Traveling, running, exploring, writing. It became clear these were things I could have been doing all along had I just taken a step back from my career-driven mentality and taken some time to enjoy being a young professional.
You don’t have to quit your job to hit the reset button. Just make sure to continue taking time to do the things you love.
Build a support network through PRSSA. I could not have picked a better road trip partner than someone I met through PRSSA. Rather than questioning my decision to quit my job and travel across the states, Victoria fully supported my decision and embraced the adventure. Whether I was doing a job interview from the side of Mount Rushmore or sampling beer in Billings, Montana, our PRSSA connection kept me motivated and confident that everything would be OK.
This story reveals an important lesson about your time in PRSSA. You may be hyper-focused on launching your career right now, but don’t forget to build relationships with your peers. They’re the people you’ll lean on the most during your first years as a professional because they’ll be the only ones who truly understand what you’re going through. Who knows? One of them might even end up riding shotgun in your car on a cross-country adventure.
Heather Harder is a senior account executive at Prosek Partners, a financial communications firm based in New York. She serves as membership co-chair of the PRSA New Professionals section and is a past PRSSA National President. Contact her at HeatherLHarder@gmail.com.