Gotta get that work experience… 

You want to get a job when you graduate, right? Well you need work experience, which often comes in the form of internships. In case you haven’t figured this out yet, it’s not easy for undergrads to find the right job, or any job for that matter.

For those of you lucky enough to find jobs, or an internship, you’ll often find yourself working as hard as you ever have for little money in return. Since most of us need, and want, money after university, that can be pretty tricky. It is a catch 22 that plagues recent graduates – you need work experience to get a job but experience is hard to come by.

Regardless of your level of success in finding and landing a job or internship, there are always ways to add to your CV and portfolio to make yourself a more marketable PR professional. Here are a few suggestions I’ve found so far:

  • This is probably the most cliché piece of advice you will hear, and are probably tired of hearing it. Then again, it is hard to deny it is probably the most important thing to keep in mind through everything you do. Each person you meet in your travels can ultimately help you in the future. Making connections is vital in the PR industry. Talk to lecturers, fellow students and company reps at career fairs. With online professional networks like LinkedIn, you can develop a simple way to keep in touch.
  • Become a PR chair for a student organisation. This is another piece of advice that may seem obvious but many neglect the idea as there is not always a pre-established position in place. If your organisation doesn’t have a PR chair, then create the position yourself. Nearly every type of organisation can benefit from solid PR. Pitch articles about what your group is doing, help organise and manage any events. Pitch and interact with the media.
  • Consider writing for a student magazine or newspaper. Learn how things work from a journalist point-of-view. You will get an idea of how journalists conduct interviews, face deadlines and how a writer crafts a story. As a PR professional you will have a better idea of what type of information and ideas journalists find helpful. Writing also gives you the opportunity to flex your writing muscles and get valuable practice. Your work will be open to critique and on display for everyone to see, just like writing on the PR side.
  • Stay up-to-date by reading. Read every day, if only for a few minutes to stay up to date on what’s going on in the world and what’s going on in the PR industry. Reading news sites isn’t particularly exciting, but it will enhance your writing prowess and allow you to see how organisations use PR in real life situations. Next to professional experience, this is probably the best way to learn about the industry, and it will speak volumes in an interview when you are able to discuss PR intelligently.
  • Develop an online social media presence. Be active in social websites and vigilant with your privacy settings so employers take note of your social media prowess when they look you up. If you’re feeling ambitious, start your own blog or website. Companies need fresh young minds that understand social networks and how they can be used for PR and marketing. Make sure to create a LinkedIn account, so you can directly control what people read about your experience and accomplishments.
  • Seek out opportunity. Take part and be active in campus and community events. Ask about opportunity. Talk to teachers and other mentors about different chances to branch out. Help others with the opportunity. Share leads and look out for others; you’ll be helping a friend and maybe setting yourself up for a reward one day.

Most importantly – be open to opportunity. Always be open to try something different and always try to say yes more often than you say no. Experience in different areas can help you more than you may ever realise. Sometimes you won’t expect an opportunity to present itself. Don’t hesitate to go after these chances. PR incorporates skills from a variety of fields, so there’s a good bet that most opportunities can be applied in a PR role.

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