Q. I just graduated from college and need to land my first PR job, which hasn’t been easy to do. Should I consider applying for internships?
A. By all means, consider internships. Internships, especially at agencies, are no longer the domain of undergraduates. They are a key source of entry-level hiring. They generally run for three months, sometimes extendable for another three months. Internships are excellent ways to confirm your professional career focus, and a good opportunity to demonstrate your talent to prospective employers. Most internships are paid, but no benefits other than the visibility that will help land a full-time position.
Q. What should I expect for an entry-level salary now that I am entering the job market following college–and three relevant internships?
A. Salaries for entry-level positions vary widely depending on geography. A number of recent graduates start out in internships, which average between $10 and $15 and hour. Fortunately, that’s short lived and normally leads to a full-time position where entry-level positions typically range from $28,000 to $35,000, depending on relevant experience, education and geography.
Q. When I was looking for my current job someone told me that I should spend about five years at an agency before I move on to nonprofits or corporations. Do you think that’s true?
A. Agency jobs have become the best starting point for PR careers. When I entered the profession, PR careers emerged after learning the basics in a newspaper or other media job. But agencies today do a better job of providing opportunities for relevant hands-on experience. Agencies also have become a primary recruiting ground for nonprofits and corporations.
Q. Building a portfolio of work samples is a lot of work. Do prospective employers really care about seeing portfolios?
A. A solid portfolio of writing samples, media placements and volunteer activities will set you apart from many applicants who come in empty handed. If you have a portifolio and the interviewer doesn’t ask about it, be sure to ask if he/she would like to see samples of your work. They often don’t ask because fewer and fewer people take the time to produce them.