In a good economy, the prospect of finding that first job for any college senior is a daunting task. So it goes without saying that most of the class of ‘09 is terrified about what lies ahead once their tassels flip flop next month.
Current public relations students generally see their options as follows: jump feet first into the worst job market in recent history or continue their education. These are two very different options, both with positives and negatives to consider.
In an effort to help students weigh these choices, The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations, in conjunction with Insidedge, hosted the first in a series of webinars this past week titled “Deciding Between a PR Job and an Advanced Degree.”
Dr. Karla Gower, Director of the Plank Center and Associate Professor at the University of Alabama, Brandi Boatner, PRSSA National President, and myself discussed some of the finer points behind each of these avenues, with one theme remaining consistent: there is no simple answer; everyone has to make this decision for themselves.
Thanks in part to my own experience entering the PR industry upon graduating from the Newhouse School at
Some of my points included:
· Weighing the costs involved with going back to school versus earning a paycheck
· Developing tactical skills starting day one that might help you reach your professional goals faster
· Building a large professional network sooner rather than later
Brandi added that by pursuing a Master’s in communications, students can strengthen their knowledge of the profession and sharpen their critical thinking abilities. Additionally, these individuals can open themselves up to more job opportunities and greater earning potential. She cautioned the audience that choosing to go back to school should not be a “way out” of getting a job, but something you believe in.
In the end, Dr. Gower, who moderated our panel, summarized the specific types of degrees students might choose to pursue and also some of the requirements that go along with the application process.
The hour-long session concluded with a variety of questions from our audience, which included students and members of the
I have two friends from college, who I thought about when preparing for this webinar. One studied PR as an undergrad with me while the other majored in political science, but went on to earn her Master’s in communications. They each pursued different segments of the business (product/brand vs. financial/corporate), and after a job or two, wound up working for the same mid-sized agency in
Keep an open mind and do your homework on each of the options presented to you. There are no wrong answers to these questions, and by working hard and following your heart, you’ll be successful in whichever path you choose.
(Doug is a senior associate at Heyman Associates, the New York-based executive recruiting firm specializing in PR and communication searches. You can view the PowerPoint presentation from the webinar at the Plank Center website).