While it’s only been eight months since I’ve graduated, it feels like I’ve gained eight years worth of knowledge and experiences. In the process of holding two different public relations roles since graduation, I’ve also had the pleasure of gaining insight into the hiring process as I hired my predecessor for one position and am now assisting with the internship program in my current role. Screening applications, reviewing resumes, conducting interviews and onboarding new interns has allowed me to recognize skills that separate average applicants from outstanding ones.
Are you doing your best to prepare yourself for a fruitful public relations career after graduation day? Read below for top tips to make your application stand out:
Get the Grades: It’s true that 10 years from now employers won’t be asking for your GPA, however, months after college they definitely will. Your college GPA shows much more than intelligence; it highlights your work ethic, dedication to excellence and ability to perform. While it may seem trivial in the classroom, these skills are ones that are essential to have in an employee. When companies see that you’ve executed those skills in college, they can trust you will continue to do so in your career, as well.
Prioritize PR: It’s no secret that college students are busy. Between class, clubs, work and studying, there’s hardly much free time on the schedule. However, it’s imperative that during your four years in college, you collect public relations experience outside of the classroom. Try to find a paid internship opportunity in your field that you can do during the semester. If you must work outside of the PR field, consider volunteering instead. Can you join your university PRSSA? Write for the yearbook or newspaper? Run social media for a university department? All of these options can be done in your spare time and will pay off in the future.
Go the extra mile: While a college degree is great, it won’t guarantee you a job. Many graduates are shocked at both the time it takes to apply for jobs and the length of the hiring process. When first applying to jobs, make sure to submit a custom cover letter for each job you apply to and if there’s an option, always attach additional documents like writing samples or a link to your online portfolio. Is there an email address to the company where you can write a follow-up email? Have you tapped into your local network of professors and local professionals? Don’t be creepy but be proactive! Passion and proactivity is an unstoppable combination and will force future employers to take notice.
Kensington Wieland is a Lee University public relations graduate and former PRSSA Chapter secretary. She is currently an Account Coordinator at the Bradford Group in Nashville, TN.