When researching for a volunteer opportunity, internship, or entry-level job you are more than likely to scroll to the qualifications section first. Often, one of the bullet points will state a requirement such as “working towards undergraduate degree in a related field of public relations.” However, in the past I have been denied an opportunity to be considered an ideal candidate due to my major, communications studies.
Here are some tips you can use to make the best of majoring in a field related to public relations and ensure you are a qualified candidate beyond the degree you’re pursuing.
Join student organizations. Plenty of real-world public relations opportunities arise from being involved in extracurricular activities and student organizations. Consider getting involved in student media by writing for your student newspaper or coming up with a campaign plan for your friend that is running for student government president. Also look to join organizations both inside and outside of your major. OCS is a communications studies organization that creates networking opportunities for classmates and faculty who share the same interest in communication. Of course, being active in PRSSA should be a given.
Learn on your own. One “major” downside to majoring in another field outside of public relations is not hearing public relations-geared lectures and obtaining traditional public relations writing skills. Unfortunately you will not have access to a professor’s expertise on how to construct a press release or set up a public relations campaign, but that shouldn’t stop you from learning on your own. Start by buying public relations-related books, taking online seminars, and signing up for an independent study course that focuses on public relations. To strengthen writing skills, try starting a blog.
Go above and beyond when job searching. At Louisiana State University, the Manship School of Mass Communication gives its students access to their online internship database. To my surprise, I was unable to view the database due to having a major outside of the college. It can be frustrating to be denied certain resources only made available to public relations majors, but know there are other ways that you can find internships and jobs. Attend your university’s or college’s career fair and tap into its alumni network. Utilize the PRSSA Internship Center. Follow accounts on Twitter such as @MarketJobsUSA, @prwork or @prnewsjobs.
What steps will you take to secure your dream job with your current major?
LaRia Rogers is the communications assistant for ImPRint, LSU’s student-run public relations firm. She is also the public relations assistant for Dance Marathon, a year-long philanthropy benefiting Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital and Children’s Miracle Network. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.