It’s a feeling many of us know well: you’re starting your first day at a new job, doing your best to conceal your nerves behind a confident smile and the most professional-looking clothes you own.

Starting a new role is nerve-wracking, even if you have loads of experience under your belt. But when you don’t, it’s downright terrifying. As a 22-year-old who had graduated college less than one month prior, I was nervous to start my role at a strategic communications company.

I found RH Strategic’s fellowship while I was still in school. My interviews with management and other team members made me excited to work there. I loved the idea of collaborating with innovative companies in the tech and healthcare industries, helping to form campaigns that would drive growth and engage their audiences. I was so excited when I learned that I’d be starting as a fellow that summer, and yet, on my first day, all I could think was, “Olivia, please don’t mess this up.”

The First Big PR Lesson: Prioritize

When I started as an RH Strategic fellow, I quickly realized that time was more limited than I treated it. To balance multiple demands in my new role, I needed to learn prioritization. The first media opportunity I secured had a turnaround of only a few hours, with the interview being arranged, facilitated and aired all within one afternoon. That sort of timing requires diligence and efficiency, which was a major shift from my typical method of planning. I watched my teammates as they tackled each step with confidence, prepping our spokesperson and corresponding with the reporter to make sure everything ran smoothly. I wondered how they did this so seamlessly, and I worried my nerves and tendency to overthink would prevent me from achieving that same poise and speed.

That interview was a wake-up call for me, but as I reflected on my way home, I found myself recalling each moment with accomplishment. There had been no time for anxiety to set in; I got through the day by trusting my instincts instead of doubting them.

The Second Big PR Lesson: Lean On Your Team

Over the next couple of months of the fellowship, I started to become more comfortable with my new work schedule, and I realized it was benefiting me in ways that my previous approaches couldn’t. A fast-paced workday requires quick judgment and stellar organizational skills, and it also requires you to be open and willing to take on whatever the day throws at you. It means asking questions and leaning on your team when you need support—something I used to resent because I thought it was more impressive to complete tasks on my own. I found that collaborating with my teammates and learning from the experience and expertise they had to offer strengthened my work and gave it greater value.

Over time, I viewed the fast pace of PR life as a positive. It helped me focus on the big picture instead of dwelling on concerns. I didn’t have hours to spend meticulously crafting a pitch. Instead, I’d take my rough draft to my teammates early, and we’d work together to make efficient edits and improvements. This not only helped me deliver higher quality work, but it also provided a sense of achievement and camaraderie that cannot be replicated by working alone.

I value my experience as an RH Strategic fellow for many reasons. It introduced me to life as a PR professional, taught me best practices in corresponding with clients and media contacts, and encouraged me to explore areas of the industry that I hadn’t been exposed to.

While I appreciate the professional milestones it helped me achieve, I’m especially thankful for the personal growth I found within it.

I no longer shy away from unfamiliar tasks. I embrace risks as challenges. I see mistakes as opportunities for improvement. Most importantly, I’m learning to set my worries aside to make room for new experiences.

And that smile I had at the beginning of the fellowship? It’s not hiding my nerves anymore, but instead reflecting my newfound confidence and readiness for what the next day will bring.

Are you a new industry professional ready to jumpstart up your career in PR? Check out the RH Strategic Fellowship Program.


RH Strategic is a Seattle and D.C.-based PR agency with a nationwide presence and additional global reach via membership in the Worldcom Public Relations Group. We provide strategic public relations for innovators in the technology, government, healthcare, and social and environmental impact markets.