Public relations is a small, highly competitive industry. It can be stressful at times, yet also rewarding. It takes a lot of hard work to land your first job, but by following these six tips, you can ensure you’re ready for the big leagues when it’s your time to shine!
- Get involved at your university. Aside from being a great way to meet people, getting involved in organizations or student-led groups is an awesome way to learn how to communicate with others in a professional manner before hitting the real world. For instance, Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) is a well-known, PR-specific organization through which students can attend conferences, develop campaigns, plan events and connect with alums in the workforce. An added bonus: It looks great on your resume!
- Intern (and then intern again). Your professors probably told you this, but it merits repeating: Interning will most likely be what lands you your first job. Interning allows you to explore what you do and don’t want in a job without committing to a company for good (or at least for the next year or two). Most agencies prefer at least one previous internship, but it’s more than likely they’ll want you to have more. Some agencies even hire from within, meaning interns can work their way up to a full-time position. This is a great opportunity to prove what you’re made of, but also to take a step back and see how those above you work.
- Ask questions. Whether you’re in the classroom or at an internship, people want to know you’re interested and curious. Beyond that, asking questions will only help you once you get into the workplace! It can be intimidating at first, especially when you’re just starting out, but your clients want you to truly understand their business, and the way to do that is to ask. And don’t just focus on asking about assignments. Ask about your client’s needs, what verticals they want to focus on, and how they can speak to current trends. Doing so shows that you’re invested in what you are doing and in their business.
- Connect and grow your network. PR is a small, tight-knit industry, so it’s no surprise that your professor could know your future employer. If you haven’t already, LinkedIn is a job-hunting life-saver for you (and for employers). Create an online profile and connect with professors, colleagues, and students. Pro tip: It’s not “creepy” to reach out to an alum working at an organization you’d love to be at – just make sure you’re professional.
- Know the organization you’re applying to as well as if you are already working there. So you’ve been invited to an in-person interview … now what? Being prepared for an interview, no matter what position you’re applying for is crucial, and will help you manage some of that pre-interview stress. Dedicate at least an hour to researching the company with which you are interviewing. Studying their mission, vision, clients, and blog is a great start. Determine how your experiences align with their mission or company values and speak to that during your interview.
- Prove yourself. Your experiences in college, whether those are internships, jobs, group projects or extracurricular activities, are all important pieces of your resume that make you different from your competition. Be prepared to talk about your experiences, what you’ve learned from them or how they have shaped you into an ideal candidate. All those internship hours spent crafting pitches and creating media lists will soon pay off!
Joining the workforce can be a job in itself, but fear not, you will find something! By being determined, and following these six helpful hints, you will be on the right track to landing your first full-time job.