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The truth is that with most jobs, it doesn't really matter what you're degree is in. I have a Communications degree and have worked in journalism and PR, as well as admin jobs, and this degree was fine for all of them. It's a good alternative if your school doesn't have a specific PR degree.
Usually public relations is either in-house or with an agency. Being a good writer and knowledgeable with social media or usually needed to get ahead in this field.
If you're doing media relations, especially at a PR agency, building relationships with reporters/producers to gain media coverage and tailoring your email pitches to what reporters/producers will open are a must. You have to be willing to pick up the phone and follow up with media outlets about your pitches and think outside of the box to constantly come up with timely and attention-getting content. Also on the agency side, especially if you're working directly with clients, having solid customer service skills and organizational/coordination skills are a plus.
In-house PR is usually separated into internal and external communications. Internal communications entails creating and managing projects for expanding company initiatives focused on engaging employees or promoting initiatives for customer-facing employees, such as sales and CSRs. Being good at writing, engaging others and research are required. External communications may include media relations, community relations/outreach, corporate responsibility, and social media.
In addition to understanding public relations, having basic skills in InDesign and Photoshop and knowledge of content management systems can expand your career opportunities into marketing communications, which usually pays better than entry-level positions that are strictly media relations.
Most public relations programs require you to have at least one internship prior to graduation. Most employers will expect new graduates to have at least internship or volunteer experience in the field.
Getting Your Feet Wet by Doing an Internship:
internships are a proven way to gain relevant knowledge, skills, and experience while establishing important connections in the field. Internships are also a way to get your feet wet and find out if a specific field is something you could see yourself doing as a full-time job. Internships may be completed during fall or spring semester or full time over the course of the summer. Unpaid internships may be easier to get but may also pose problems if making money is necessary, especially during the summer. The problem is there are many who cannot afford to work for nothing so that they are forced into doing menial jobs such as wait staff or bartending in order to work their way through college. This may preclude some from doing an internship which may really be a detriment when hoping to get a full-time job.
Financial Considerations When Doing an Internship:
Financial considerations when looking for an internship can make a big difference in the decision-making process. Sometimes students will do a part-time or full-time job to supplement the time that they are spending at their internship. Whether an internship is paid or unpaid there are many things that need to be taken into consideration in order to decide if an internship is worthwhile. Its important to decide if an internship will ultimately be in the best interest of the student in order to help them meet the requirements they will need when applying for a full-time job.
Some colleges also offer funded internships for students. Check with your college to see if they offer a funded internship program that may help to meet the requirements of your college curriculum while offering experiences that employers seek when hiring new college graduates for entry level jobs. In addition, many foundations and organizations offer financing to college students so they may try writing to a number of them to see if they provide funding for college students seeking to do internships in their field.
Doing an Internship and a Job:
Students may elect to do a summer internship a couple of days per week while working a part-time job for the remainder of the time. For those who need to maximize the amount of money they make over the course of the summer, they may look into doing an internship during the academic year when they are less likely to expect to make money to help defray their college expenses. In addition to internships, volunteer opportunities can also be an excellent way to gain experience and exposure to the work force. Employers love to see volunteer experiences on a students resume. Volunteering shows commitment to causes and certain values that are intrinsic to the individual who have participated in these types of experiences. Employers look for employees who are publicly engaged and who take an interest in community service and in doing good work.
What Employers Want?
Internships and volunteer experiences make candidates more competitive in the job market. In addition to gaining exposure and experience in the field, they also provide an opportunity to see if the particular career field is the right one based on getting personal experience in the field. No matter what opportunities you engage in, its important to maintain professionalism and take on the individual responsibility that is required.
The Benefits of Doing an Internship
By doing a great job and completing more than what is required of you in your internship, you will be creating a great impression that can provide a great reference letter at the least and may even potentially lead to a potential job offer. When you leave the organization at the end of the internship, you should ask for a recommendation letter that you can keep on file for future reference.
Internships are a Learning Experience:
Internships are a great way to learn the ropes so even if you find yourself filing or making coffee, as long as youre learning about the field take advantage of the opportunity and dont take the experience lightly. Asking questions is one key to learning in an internship and keeping yourself flexible throughout the internship can open many doors.
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