Hello slightly younger versions of us! Susie and Dave here, offering up our congratulations on being part of the graduating class of 2012. Now that you can put away your books and pens (do students still use these?), what’s next for you in the journey they call life?
Since you’re reading this, odds are you’re searching for that elusive entry-level PR job that you’ve worked toward for the past four (or in Dave’s case, seven) years. However, recent reports that one in two new graduates are jobless or underemployed can take the air out of your celebration and make the upcoming months an intimidating time for you and your classmates.
But don’t despair! There are many ways to leverage social media to your advantage and although we don’t make hiring decisions, we’d like to offer you some tips on ways to ease your transition into the PR industry:
- Hone those skills – There are certain universal skills that will never go out of style, regardless of organization, job title or industry area of focus. It may seem obvious, but in PR, the stronger your writing and communication skills are, the more you’ll set yourself apart from the crowd. The key is to never stop practicing. Love sports? Develop a blog that breaks down the latest recruiting news. Are you into the arts? Sharpen your creative writing skills by writing reviews of the latest film festivals and art exhibits. What you’re writing about doesn’t matter. The point is that you’re practicing and developing a strong written voice. And bonus! You’ll have a great writing portfolio to share with prospective employers.
- Attend networking events and conferences – You know by now that PR people love social media. But after all of the interaction online, it’s a great idea to take those relationships to the next level and meet in person. Industry and community events such as TEDxDetroit, Ignite Detroit and the PRSA 2012 Michigan Conference are great opportunities to put faces with the names and strengthen your relationships.
- Arrange a job shadow – As you’ll soon find out, PR professionals are a friendly bunch (except for Susie). Along those same lines, we understand what you’re going through when it comes to finding a job, mainly because we were in your shoes not too long ago. We’re always looking to offer advice and help where we can, which is why asking an agency for a job shadow is a great way to learn more about the industry, gain a helpful mentor and be visible to an agency that may be looking to hire.
- Volunteer (with a purpose) – Take some time to assess what issues you care about and explore ways to get involved with organizations that align with your interests. Do you spend a lot of time reading about environmental issues? Consider volunteering with a non-profit that works to preserve the natural resources in your area. Are you an animal lover? Volunteer to walk dogs and clean cages at a local animal shelter. Not only will you be fulfilling your passions and helping a great cause, you’ll expand your network. You get bonus points if you volunteer to support their communications efforts. Non-profits can always use help with media relations, event organization and member communications.
- Explore post-grad internships – A common misconception with internships is that they’re only meant for current college students. Obviously, pursuing internship experience and references during college is important, but just because you’re out of college doesn’t mean you should be discouraged from applying for an internship. On the contrary, an internship gives a potential employer a chance to see how awesome you are, and the fact that you already have your degree makes it that much easier for the agency to bring you on as a salaried employee. In fact, several ‘Foilers began their careers at Airfoil as paid interns before getting called up to the big leagues.
In the end, it comes down to investing in yourself, keeping your options open, and reaching out to experienced PR professionals who can lend a helping hand.
— Susie Johnston is an account executive and Dave Niemiec is an account coordinator at Airfoil Public Relations, a high tech PR agency with offices in Silicon Valley and Detroit.