If you are in the process of gaining a degree in public relations, then I congratulate you. It isn’t an easy process, but I am about to throw a spanner in the works.
Experience. It is imperative that throughout your time at university, you spend your spare time wisely and get some experience in the world of PR.
Recent statistics show that graduates “who have had no previous work experience at all are unlikely to be successful during the selection process and have little or no chance of receiving a job offer for their organisations.”
In this day and age, it is imperative that graduates have some form of work experience relative to the industry they want to work in. However, people are aware that there are some who can’t afford to work for free, and it can be really difficult to find the time to gain experience.
It is best to spend your first and second years at university to apply for work experience placements. Many PR roles, whether in-house or agency, will offer a week or two for you to go in and gain the necessary experience. In order to get placements, follow these tips and you’ll find yourself one step ahead of others on your course.
- Utilise your free time. – Especially in your first and second year, it is the best time to gain experience that is relevant to your degree. The first year is mainly for students to get to grips with university life, with many courses only requiring a 40% pass rate.
- Take a year out. – This option is popular with many people, and it can be beneficial to take a year out to act as a ‘placement year’ as part of your degree. In many degrees, it isn’t compulsory, but it will help you build contacts and could lead to getting a graduate job.
- Set yourself a goal. – Personally, I set myself a goal to get involved with as many things relevant to PR as possible whilst carrying out my degree. By doing this, I kept focused and have managed to gain a range of experience. By doing this you could find yourself in a prime position when it comes to applying for jobs, try and stay one step ahead of your fellow students.
- Start realistic. – Your tutors and lecturers will have many connections in their respective industry, so ask for help or information that may get those doors open for you. Also build an online presence, as this is becoming important in the growing social media age. Any experience or practice is beneficial and will look great on your CV.
- Extra-curricular activities. – Getting involved in other things will also look good on your CV. The skills you’ll learn, such as management, teamwork and organisation, will embellish your CV nicely. (and you can’t go wrong by coming across as a well-rounded and sociable individual!)
I guess what I’m trying to say, is that if you take the time during your studies to get work experience that is relevant to your degree and industry that you want to work in, it will put you ahead of other students. Many employers want to see proof of your passion, and just having a degree isn’t enough, but you can change that by spending just a few days of your time a month within a company.
Do good for your future self and make the current you the best you can be.