When I graduated in May I had internship experience, was president of my Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapter, had been a public relations executive at my student newspaper and had been involved in my school’s student-run firm.
I’m not saying this to brag – I’m saying this because with all of that experience I expected to be hired somewhere full-time in a heartbeat. LOL.
Warning: This is all coming from an agency perspective, I really don’t know anything about corporate public relations – but maybe I’ll have a “guest” on the blog to explain that if anyone is interested!
Anyways: Here are some tips and insights that I’ve picked up over the last six months.
Get Ready to Intern
First things first, if you want to work at an agency get ready to intern. I don’t care if you were the most experienced and talented person at your university, a lot of large agencies want you to intern before they will hire you. That’s right, I will probably intern for an entire year post-grad. Sometimes people luck out and don’t have to intern right out the gate – but if that isn’t you don’t be bitter because I’m actually very thankful that I wasn’t hired full-time, which leads me to my next insight…
You Still Have SO Much to Learn
After all of my experience in college I thought I was ready to be an AAE somewhere, I didn’t want to intern! I started my internship (a little reluctantly I might add) and realized if anyone had hired me full-time they would have been a fool. I actually had an interview for an AAE position at a different agency and it was TERRIBLE. I just hadn’t experienced enough to know how to confidently accomplish everything in the role.
Don’t get me wrong, my university prepared me beyond belief for this role, but I didn’t have the life experience to start full-time. Public relations is always changing and can be pretty intense; as an intern you learn how to role with the punches with more guidance than you would as an AAE. I’d had other internships, but it’s different once you’re graduated. Each agency is vastly different in my experience, and being able to test out the waters before a full commitment, and learn how each agency likes to run, is so beneficial.
Don’t Look Next to You
Don’t pay attention to the fact that the person who always slacked off in group projects and wasn’t involved now has a more advanced job than you. Unfortunately, who you know really is a huge component of finding a job. You will find something you love and if you work hard you will be noticed, so don’t let the others get you down.
I applied for an internship I really wanted so many times and didn’t get it, but I applied to a different office (same agency) that was less competitive and ended up being transferred to where I wanted to be in the first place. Be creative and accept that your path might be a zig-zag. It really does all work out, you just have to work too.
Also – throwing this in. Agency hiring processes are really fast. A lot of my friends (graduating in May) knew where they would be working in October or November, whereas agencies usually hire as needed, maybe a few months beforehand. Some of my peers were hired the week before they started!
Everyone has a different experience, this has been mine. Good luck, and if you don’t find something right away – you aren’t alone.