The Pressure is on for Graduates Entering the PR Industry as the Competition Grows

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Student Organizations Might Help Students Take the Lead in Landing a Job

Graduation is bittersweet for every college graduate. They are relieved from late night studying or deadbeat members in group projects. But instead, they are faced with job search panic and loss of confidence in their knowledge and abilities as a professional. Everyone knows that some industries have low competition and a high demand for employees. This makes the job search process much easier for students in those specific majors. Some students even have employers contacting them to be recruited (a PR specialist’s dream, right?). However, public relations and other media jobs are not that fortunate.

With the growing and evolving media industry, competition in the field is fierce. As of 2018, the Occupational Outlook Handbook projects that, “Candidates can expect strong competition for jobs at advertising and public relations firms and organizations with large media exposure” (OOH).

With the increase in social media and other digital uses to spread information, the lines between PR, Advertising, Marketing, Telecommunications and Digital Media have been blurred. Many employers are accepting graduates with Advertising degrees into PR positions, PR degrees into Digital Media or Social Media positions and vice versa. Although having an array of media knowledge is helpful in the industry, this means that a PR position that would have been applicable for 50 PR graduates before, is now available to another 200+ students with differing media degrees.

Sounds like a sticky situation, right? Well, do not give up hope. Luckily, there are ways that you can improve your chances of being selected from this sea of media lovers. How you ask? Student organizations are a fine place to start. At the beginning of every college career, students are bombarded with pamphlets and other marketing materials encouraging them to get involved in a list of some 3,000 organizations that their campus offers. It is overwhelming but joining at least one in your field could make a HUMONGOUS difference in your future career.

Here are just a few reasons why joining a student organization may make life after graduating easier for you:

NETWORKING

Networking opportunities are placed right in front of students at their organization meeting. Often meetings will include guest speakers that are currently professionals in the field of interest, socials with professionals or other students and a professor that sponsors the group. The professor can be a great mentor for students and possibly even a professional connection in the future.

CONFIDENCE

Having time outside of the classroom to educate yourself on your industry, use popular industry lingo and practice skills that you learn in the classroom–all help in building your professional confidence.

NEW SKILLS & KNOWLEDGE

By participating in guest speaker Q & A’s, attending conferences and lectures and visiting companies in the industry, students can gain insight on what their life could look like after graduation. In student organizations, “… learning how different people respond and react to certain situations will help you develop your skills in presenting and implementing ideas” (TOPICS).

INSPIRATION  & CLARIFICATION

I (personally) found listening to speakers to be incredibly reassuring in my first few years of studying PR. Hearing about experiences from professionals in the field may clarify which area you want to focus on in the industry. It may even persuade you to go an entirely different route. For example, maybe your dream job was to be a social media specialist for your favorite makeup brand but after hearing a PR specialist in the political field speak, you are inspired in minoring in political science or media law.

FRIENDSHIPS

Making friends in your organization is a good way to find a study buddy, bounce ideas off of one another and to make lifelong professional connections.

FREE FOOD

Finally, if nothing else can convince you that joining an organization is a good idea for your future, hopefully, this point resonates deep within your soul. It is always more appealing to go somewhere when there is free food being offered and yes it DOES help you with your career when you graduate. Let’s imagine that you land a dream job across the country upon graduation but from your slightly-above-minimum-wage college job you have limited funds. You might not be comfortable taking the position knowing that your savings account is so low. However, what if you would have just shown up to more meetings to save an extra $7 to $20 on your meal every 1-2 weeks? It adds up. Then you could take that dream job without a second thought.

By taking advantage of these benefits from student organizations, you could increase your chances of landing a job in your industry upon graduation. Many organizations still allow students to attend organizational meetings for free, even if they cannot afford pay membership dues. However, most dues are typically affordable for a college budget and allow the student to access better resources and tools. Get involved and take control of your professional journey.

Mariah Brown is a Senior at Ball State University, studying Public Relations and Event Planning. Brown has been a member of PRSSA since January 2017 and has enjoyed her time as a mentor and former secretary for the BSU chapter.

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