By Ellie Shalvarjian | May 24, 2021
Between extracurriculars, homework, internships, and maintaining a good GPA — college can be stressful. Add in deciding your career path? It can be downright intimidating.
Public Relations is oftentimes seen as a specialized field with only 6% of all colleges in the United States having dedicated majors for the subject. This makes gaining experience in college that much more difficult, but just as important. Getting this background in PR can help you land a better job after graduating college, especially since employers often look for real-world experience that helps candidates stand out. Along with getting a job, these experiences ensure that you have a good idea of the field you are starting in and that you are passionate about what you are studying.
Here are three tips to ensure that you are gaining the experience you need, even without a PR major:
See What’s Out There
With over 300+ chapters across the United States, the Public Relations Student Society of America is the ideal place to start. PRSSA provides professional development opportunities and connections across the US. Your school doesn’t have a PRSSA chapter? Start your own! The application process is relatively easy, and you would be a founding member of a great resource on campus.
That being said, your club experience should not end with PR-specific clubs. Put your PR toolbox to the test and reach out to other clubs on campus to see if they need a communications member. Many clubs could benefit from social media outreach, newsworthy press releases, and advice on how to manage crisis situations. By offering your help, you can start an executive position in pretty much any club you want — no matter how unrelated to PR it is.
Learn How To Network Early On
Not only will networking help you secure jobs in the future, but it also helps hone your professional communication skills. Learning how to write professional emails, use Linkedin, and utilize your resources to build a network will teach you transferable skills necessary for PR. Taking 15 minutes to talk to someone can also teach you more about the day-to-day life of a PR practitioner and what things people wish they had learned about the industry. Aim to reach out to a diverse array of individuals, and learn more about the career paths that got them to their current positions. You may be surprised at how people stumbled into the field!
Build a Brand for Yourself
The idea of recruiting and managing multiple clients may be intimidating as a student, but the outcome can be incredibly rewarding. Make a list of your favorite businesses around town and see if they already have a communications role. If they don’t, pitch your idea to offer them free PR, and pretty soon you could have an impressive resume. Through this experience, you can gain connections with local reporters, experience with multiple clients, and countless connections. Too scared to do it alone? Recruit another PR friend to help you and split up the workload or even interview peers for a position. This is a great way to be your own boss and immerse yourself in the world of PR.
Overall, the most important thing is making sure that PR is the right career path for you. The experience you gain can give you a great idea about what kinds of PR you are interested in, and it can also help you get an idea of the fast-paced work environment you will be in. Even if your college doesn’t have a defined PR major, there are plenty of ways to stand out and get involved.