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Life After Graduation: Pursuing a Public Relations Career

By Morisa Young | On July 21, 2020

It’s graduation day. You’ve crossed the stage, turned your tassel and accepted your diploma. Despite the rush, graduating from college also brings on a variety of other emotions. You’re proud of your accomplishments and motivated to start the next chapter of your life, and at the same time, you’re nervous with the uncertainty of what comes next — especially when asked, “What are your plans after graduation?”

In the wake of COVID-19, searching for a job is proving to be more difficult. According to a recent survey from PRWeek, based on 280 responses from PR companies, one in five agencies have laid off staff and about one-third are in a hiring freeze. But more importantly – and quite relieving — majority have experienced “no change” to its staff during to COVID-19.

As someone who recently started a career in public relations, I understand that figuring out those next steps can be challenging. Even after taking public relations classes, working internships and “doing everything I was supposed to,” I still found myself searching for a job months after graduating. However, as discouraging as it may seem — even with a global pandemic thrown into the mix — there are a variety of ways to get yourself on the career path you’re after. Below are some tips for college graduates looking to start their career in public relations.

Look Everywhere: There are always opportunities to break into the public relations industry – but this path isn’t always linear. Looking at internships is a helpful way to get started, as they can provide first-hand experience of the industry, giving individuals a glimpse of the “real world” that can sometimes even lead to full-time positions. Outside of internships, recent grads should consider looking for jobs that will help them develop transferable skills, such as problem solving, client interaction and efficient communication. Even if the position you land isn’t in an ideal industry, it is still an opportunity to grow professionally and build your resume.

Research: While it may seem obvious, it’s important to research not only on the public relations industry as a whole, but on the specific sector you’re interested in – whether it be technology, healthcare, fashion, or any other vertical. Demonstrating an understanding of relevant topics, and the publications that cover them, will help you stand out and will be beneficial to developing your career. In addition, before heading into an interview, don’t forget to research the company and understand what it does. This will help determine if you will be a good fit for the company, but also if the company is a fit for you – and it’s important to make sure that your goals and values align.

Keep Learning: You might find that it takes some time before getting a public relations job, but don’t let this be intimidating. Instead, consider making the most of your available time by taking relevant online courses to help improve your skill set, through programs such as Coursera or Alison. These courses are available on a variety of topics that will provide you with resume boosting qualifications and show that you’re willing and capable to continuously learn new things.

Finding a job can be a daunting task, but above all — don’t panic. Take the time to figure out what you want to do and take on opportunities that feel right. Though it may be tempting to accept every offer that comes your way, it may not be the right fit, so it’s important to make sure the position is something that you can make the most out of and will help put you on the right track to pursue the career path you want to take.

Morisa Young