Public relations is a competitive field that requires up-and-coming professionals to make a name for themselves. Majoring in PR requires us to do more than go sit in a lecture hall and memorize information for exams. Rather, the field gets us up and moving in a way that other majors may not. We must have connections with people outside of the university, such as alumni and professionals, as well as building an online presence, networking and gaining experience.
With that being said, here are a few ways I have been working to make sure I am creating a name and gaining valuable experience for my future career:
PRSSA, the Public Relations Student Society of America, is a respected network of public relations students across the country. Many universities that offer public relations sequence have their own chapters of PRSSA, ours being PRSSA Kent. PRSSA is a way to meet professionals in the field, to learn about the PR field and to network with students in the major at your university, as well as across the country.
Network and Attend Events
Networking events are extremely valuable and fun. At Kent, we are given many of opportunities planned by PRSSA, faculty members or individual schools. Networking events allow us to meet professionals in the field in a less stressful environment. I’ve been told time and time again that these professionals you meet at the events will remember you and may even be the person to give you first job, so attend.
Build Relationships with Professors
Most professors have worked in the field, and can offer insight to real-world experiences, meeting professionals and job opportunities. It is in the best interest of the students to get to know their professors and build relationships that will help out in the future. Not only could a professor help you meet someone in your dream job but also, it is simply beneficial with classwork if they actually know who you are.
Since public relations can be heavy on social media, it is important to make sure you have some sort of presence on the web. Talking with professionals in the field, I have learned that it is okay to not be on every single social media platform and site that exists, but having a few can help. If anything, LinkedIn is the number one social media account a PR student should have. LinkedIn allows you to connect with professionals, students and professors. After meeting a professional at a networking event, it is a great idea to go and connect with him or her on the site – just make sure you create a professional, complete profile. This will help them remember you and may also lead them to contact you with job openings. Think of LinkedIn as your professional Facebook, posting information related to the PR industry that shows you are paying attention and have some thoughts about it – as well as your own interests.
I believe that following these tactics can help any up-and-coming PR professional get engaged and ready to work in the field. Public relations is all about staying connected, communicating and gaining valuable experience, so remember to put yourself out there!