Several recent PR graduates have raised the thorny question: Does a PR degree ensure a PR job? Short answer is “no.”
A number of factors determine the likelihood of landing a PR job, including the fact there are more PR graduates than PR openings each year. A PR degree itself is not sufficient for most prospective employers. With escalating numbers of PR students, employers look beyond the degree in search of relevant experience–either through past jobs, internships or volunteer efforts. Hiring managers definitely notice uniqueness in resumes–business-related course work, philosophy or English literature minors. Study semesters abroad also catch the eye of prospective employers.
This week, I came across a student’s perspective on this subject in an interesting new blog by a self-described “ambitious student” at York University in the United Kingdom. Adam Lewis provides excellent insights in his post entitled “Is a PR Degree the Best Way to Get Into PR?”
While I simply advocate the need for relevant experience, Adam goes a step further by arguing that any degree from highly-regarded institutions can trump a PR degree from lesser known schools. “If a top 20 consultancy picked up two CVs with similar experience, grades and interests with one having a PR degree from University of Teeside and the other a English Literature degree from Cambridge which candidate is the company likely to choose? I’m not trying to look down upon the degree or the institutes which offer this degree, I just think that an MD is almost always more likely to see the more established University over the actual degree and employ the latter candidate than the PR degree student.”
In the U.S., I believe a solid resume with excellent experience still carries the greater weight–perhaps because we don’t see too many resumes from Harvard, Sanford and Princeton. When we do, they always get considered–so Adam may be right. From the stacks of resumes on most employers’ desks, those with “name brand” colleges generally make it through the first round of cuts. Fortunately, the U.S. is blessed with an abundance of great colleges and most of them now offer PR programs.
Don’t just rely on the degree to land that first job, however. Relevant experience, internships and volunteer efforts help offset anything that might be lacking in the prominence of the institution from which you graduate.