Career pressure intensifies this month as seniors begin returning to college wondering if they’ll have jobs upon graduation next spring. While seniors face the greatest pressure, all students should start off the new academic year with a game plan that will help land future jobs.
Not all students know what they want to do when the graduate. That’s fine as long as you remain flexible about the sorts of jobs that might be available when you graduate. It is important to understand that the first job after college doesn’t necessarily define your future career. But by laying the groundwork in college for the ultimate job you think you want to pursue, you will more likely achieve that career goal. Here are several tips for students and other young professionals to consider as they lay the foundation for a career in public relations or elsewhere:
Create Your Own Personal Brand. Young professionals who know their “personal brand” are more likely to get opportunities they seek. Fred Siegman provides a personal branding model that includes the key elements of your own personal brand pyramid.
Build a Compelling Resume. Make sure your resume suggests that you possess experience and passion for the jobs you might want to pursue. Use the final year of college to add key experience that will support your future job search. Here are easy ways to make your resume more eye catching to hiring managers:
- Become digitally savvy. Expand your social media presence. Start a blog. Follow leaders of the profession and retweet items to help create your personal online brand.
- Volunteer. Nonprofit organizations need volunteers, so offer to help with marketing and public relations efforts in order to gain relevant experience.
- Engage in industry programs such as Ketchum’s Mindfire that enlists PR ideas from students that are shared with clients.
- Join career-relevant organizations such as PRSSA and IABC. Such involvement provides networking opportunities while adding an important resume bullet point that underscores your interest in the profession.
- Gain as much writing experience as possible. Take an elective course, attend writing workshops and seek opportunities to write. Lack of writing skills remains the number one complaint of agencies hiring recent college graduates. Write for your college newspaper or join a student-run agency.
- Network. Don’t wait until graduation approaches to prepare a networking spreadsheet that will help you be more strategic with your job search.
Fully Tap College Resources. Career Centers exist on most campuses, yet I’m surprised with how few students tap into their services. Career Centers have a number of valuable resources, plus they often can help arrange informational interviews with alumni in the professions of interest to you. Many colleges have internship coordinators, and I’ve talked with several in recent months who say they have more available internships than students willing to apply for them.
Get to Know Your Professors. Most faculty, especially adjuncts, have real-world experience and contacts that can help open doors. But if your academic record and campus involvement are below par, don’t waste their time. In order to retain their credibility, professors need to limit their recommendations to those who will reflect favorably on them and their institutions.