My Advice to PR Students
I recently had the opportunity to return to my alma mater, Utah Valley University, to talk to students about my first year out of college in the real world.
During my four years at UVU I made a lot of close friends that I would do anything for and made memories to last a lifetime. It was fun to see familiar faces and meet new people that have the tools necessary to succeed in whatever career path they choose.
The theme of the night seemed to be, “What can I do now as a student to get a job offer and be prepared to join the work force?”
After reflecting on this discussion and my own experience, let me summarize what helped me in my career path, both before and after graduation.
1. “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.” Many PR people will tell you that the grades you get in school don’t ever matter. I’m here to tell you that’s absolutely false. You mostly likely won’t ever be asked in an interview what your GPA was, but your grades are a reflection of how hard you try.
Working hard in school will open up extra opportunities for you to go to conferences and on sponsored trips. Your professors will be some of your greatest allies after graduation. I still communicate with former professors to help clients fill job positions and internships. The more you show you care, the more they will care about you.
2. Do anything and everything you can. The more involved you become, the more friends and natural contacts you will make, and the larger your arsenal will be when you want to be set up with that next sweet gig.
I don’t remember everything I learned in classes or conferences, but I will never forget the people who were involved in those experiences.
3. Don’t just find any internship; find one in the field you want to work in. One of the coolest things about PR is that you can do it in just about any sphere you are interested in. Because it is so vastly applicable, you should decide what field you want to work in and try an internship in that area.
Be picky about it. Find specific places you’d like to work. There are very few companies that will say no if you walk up to them and say, “Hi, my name is Ryan. I’m a senior in college and I am willing to work for free.”
4. Don’t waste too much time filling out applications. All of the job interviews that I had after college came as a result of people referring me to potential employers. I filled out countless applications and didn’t hear a word back from any of those companies.
Your time will be much better spent talking with people you know about PR opportunities. Even people that don’t work in PR will know of job openings. Don’t be ashamed to tell people that you are looking for work.
I’m sure you will receive plenty of advice on how to get a job from other people while you are in school. The two cents they give you will be incredibly valuable if you put it into practice. No single thing will get you a job, but the culmination of all of your efforts will open up opportunities that you didn’t even think were available.
After graduation I had no idea that I would end up at Snapp Conner PR, but it was these four pieces of advice that were most influential in helping me to land in a job and environment that I enjoy.