Have you had one of those life moments where you can recall every single detail? You remember the smell of the room, the people around you, what was said and even what people were wearing.
I was one of about 50 freshmen sitting in large lecture hall waiting to register for our fall classes. Our Professional Advisor, Mr. Oakley, held up a piece of white paper.
“This is your resume,” he said. “Right now, it’s blank.”
And that’s when I realized the first day of the rest of my life had just started.
If you are early in your academic career, the best advice I can give you is to get active.
- Choose a minor or a second major that interests you and that enhances your skills.
- Start a blog, build your online identity by setting up Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts (to name a few networks) and start looking for organizations on campus that you can put your classroom public relations skills into practice.
Doing this now will give you an advantage as you seek those competitive internships.
Now let’s get down to what everyone wants to talk about: internships. Internships are the cornerstone of your resume. They demonstrate that you can be of future value to employers, and employers will be interested to see at what type of company you worked, what you did and what you learned.
When boiled down, you resume must show that you have a demonstrated ability to do something. If it does, then you’re prepared to look for a job after graduation. If not, you may need to take an internship after graduation, as recommended by Susan Walton, APR, public relations professor and associate chair for the department of communication at Brigham Young University. Most agencies, because they receive so many applicants, use internships as a trial run before hiring.
I know that’s easier said than done. Like many of you, after two summer internships and countless experiences with campus organizations and student media, I am ready for full-time work. By all means, if you are ready to plunge into the work force, dive in. Use PRSSA’s and PRSA’s Jobcenter Web sites as starting tools. Don’t rule out local job bank Web sites either.
You might even try expanding your job search into other fields of work such as fund raising (also known as development or advancement), brand management, research, advertising and marketing. As public relations students, we are learning the same research, planning, execution and evaluation methods used in marketing and advertising. The tools may be different, but the process is much the same. Public relations students can write like advertisers or marketers, but advertisers and marketers cannot write like public relations practitioners.
Whatever you do, start early. Jobs are out there. You just have to find them.