Congratulations! You are entering your senior year full of enthusiasm, easy classes and a hankering for a fun time. Before you get too excited about the ease of your last year of college, remember that in just a few short months, you’ll be applying for jobs. Don’t worry — it’s not as scary as it seems, especially if you follow these six steps:
- Focus on your goals. College is a fantastic opportunity to have a social life, but don’t forget that you are going to be out in the real world soon. Focus on what you want to accomplish during your senior year of college and picture yourself on graduation day. What city do I want to work in? What area of PR do I want to get into? What can I see myself doing that will make me happy?
- Build your resume. By now, you probably have at least one internship under your belt. If not, talk to your school’s communication team, career center or other departments that can help get you a little bit of experience. Sign up for different clubs and organizations your school offers and volunteer to be the public relations or communications chair. Future employers want to see not only experience, but leadership as well. Many times, large companies will have PR competitions where you can put together a PR, social media or marketing plan together. Enter those contests – not only will it give you experience, but if you win, it’s a great interview topic.
- Network. Practice networking by going to different club or organization meetings. Find new people and discover their interests. Attend your local PRSA events (great discounts for PRSSA members!) and sit at a table where you don’t know anyone. Industry leaders will be impressed you took an interest in such an event.
- Continue networking. And never stop! Just because you went to a PRSA luncheon or a career fair doesn’t mean you are going to land a job with the people you met there. Professionals meet hundreds of people at events made specifically for networking, so make yourself stand out. Send a follow-up email thanking the career fair host for their time or make it a point to say hello to the PR professional you met a few weeks ago at the next event. Follow up with old contacts, past internship supervisors and past coworkers. Be gracious for your experience with them because those connections are your key to stellar references in May.
- Be okay with an internship. Many agencies, especially the larger agencies, will not hire students right out of college. Most of them require a three-to-nine month internship (probably paid) before they will consider hiring. An internship post-grad is not a bad idea! I graduated and took an internship with a large agency after graduation. It gave me a lot of experience and I was able to meet incredible professionals.
- Don’t be discouraged. I’m sure you have read the many articles about the unemployment rate, but don’t let that discourage you. Build your resume, network and stay focused through your last year of college to walk away on graduation day calm, confident and employed.
Gabby Bladdick is December 2010 graduate of Valparaiso University where she majored in Public Relations and minored in Business. She was active in PRSSA where she practiced each of these six points. Gabby currently is the Public Relations Specialist at Trilix Marketing Group Inc., in Des Moines, Iowa.