The transition from college to the professional world is never easy. There are many paths in the Public Relations (PR) field with a diverse pool of job opportunities. So much that it can be overwhelming. Here are some tips to keep in mind to help you reach your goals, no matter what path you choose.
- Get Experience
Internships are a great way to gain experience in a variety of industries and settings. The field of public relations is vast. There are options to work for non-profits, corporate, healthcare, and more. The more experience you gain in any setting will make you a more well-rounded PR professional and appealing to employers. Interning in various industries will also help you discover what you are interested in and what fields might not appeal to you, Understanding your professional interests will help you focus your time and effort on areas where you can thrive.
Put yourself out there! If you learn nothing else from your time in college, as long as you know how to network and build relationships with others, you are on the right track. This is arguably one of the most critical skills in PR. Who you know can sometimes be even more important than what you know. Networking can be done in a variety of ways.
Get involved on campus. Student organizations can offer extensive leadership opportunities to prepare you for your career. If your school has a PRSSA chapter, joining the organization would be a great start. In itself, PRSSA offers events to connect students with potential mentors, and sometimes guest speakers will come in to share their advice.
- Learn Relevant Skills
We live in an increasingly tech-savvy world, and PR keeps up with that trend. Therefore, it is essential to research software and tools needed in the industry, even if it is outside of the classroom. Looking at entry-level job descriptions is one way to see what skills you may need to learn. Of course, you are not expected to be professionals with these technologies at the very beginning in most cases, but anything you can do to learn will give you an advantage.
Some tools to be familiar with are Critical Mention and Sprout Social for media monitoring, WordPress for web design, and Canva for simple graphic design.
- Focus on Refining Your Writing Skills
You will write more than you can imagine in public relations. So, if you do not like writing, this might be the right career path for you. But, before you learn the bells and whistles of all the new technology, you must go back to the basics of being a solid writer.
Writing concisely, clearly, and effectively is the most critical attribute for a career in public relations. Build a portfolio of your writing now to show potential employers or to use in interviews. Some great work to include could be press releases, blogs, research communications, and social media posts.
- Understand Media
PR students should understand all types of media like the back of their hand. For social media, it is crucial to demonstrate your ability to use social media tools to communicate with audiences across all platforms effectively.
Also, you might be required to get the media to cover your news or events in a job. So, it would be beneficial to know how TV or news stations work or how an editor might assign stories. It also would not hurt to make connections with local journalists. One way to get involved with this side of the media would be to find an internship with a news outlet.