As some of you may know, I just graduated with my bachelor’s degree in advertising and public relations. I started my real-life grown-up job just a few weeks later, and as much as I loved my college experience, I’ve since noticed some of the ways my degree program could have better prepared me for the job market. On a more positive note, I have also noticed the things that my major did right, and how important those aspects of college were.
For communication students, finding a job after graduation can be especially difficult. Unless you were snapped up by the company you interned for, it can be challenging to muscle through the job search, while your friends who studied engineering are choosing between multiple competitive offers. However, as students in public relations, advertising and other areas of communication, you can also find ways to stand out to employers and succeed in the workforce.
The Weekend Five: Advice for Communication Students
1. Take more business classes.
Sure, you may have aspirations of becoming an art director or copywriter for a big agency, but a background in business will round out your education and help you not only in your professional life, but in your personal life as well. I used to dread attending my economics and personal finance classes, but looking back, I wish I had put more time into those classes and even taken a few more. Because my major was not in the college of business, we only had to take a minimal number of business classes, and most of our coursework focused on the sometimes nebulous concept of branding. Now working in marketing at a financial institution, I wish I had learned more about the business side of my major. You never know where you’ll end up working, but having a better background in business will ultimately help you to create results in a more tangible way.
2. Internships are your best friends.
Some degree programs require at least one internship – I was lucky to be part of one of those programs. However, at some universities, internships are recommended but not mandatory for graduation. Internships will give you real-life experience and teach you more than you can learn in a classroom, but they also give you portfolio materials to show at job interviews, introduce you to others in your industry and can even lead to full-time work. I interned at four separate companies during my college career, and at three of those internships, my supervisor had graduated from my school and interned at that company several years prior. Even if the company isn’t hiring, putting in the time for an internship is an important investment to make.
3. Save your work.
Keep your press releases, published articles, media advisories and design work – you never know when it will be needed! I saved everything I put together for classes and internships so that when interviewers asked me to supply three writing samples, I was able to do so. Employers will want to see what you can do, rather than what you say you can do. If you save all your work in one place, it makes it a lot easier to dig out on demand.
4. Get to know faculty.
The faculty members in your program should have an extensive knowledge of the industry, and some may still be working in it. You’ll want to make sure you connect with them through extracurriculars and office hours so they can help guide you when needed. Trust me – where employers are concerned, a recommendation from a trusted faculty member goes a lot farther than a simple response on an online job posting, and it will help ensure that your resumé is actually seen.
5. Social media matters even more.
In 2013, social media definitely matters when it comes to the job/internship hunt, but it matters even more when you’re a communication student. Because the jobs you’re searching for may require social media management, employers will want to see that you can not only adequately use those platforms, but that you know how to positively represent yourself online. My advice: make your page as private as possible, but don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your boss to see.
Communication students, what are your concerns? Graduates, what are your tips?