Don’t Devalue Your Education

So much work goes into landing a first public relations job or internship. Students are told to network, join organizations, write for their university newspapers, apply for internships, study abroad, etc.

Don’t be the student who focuses all of his attention outside of the classroom. If you find yourself in that position, please take note.

Putting together a perfect class schedule is a daunting task, but if done correctly, you’ll enter internships prepared and will be able to knowledgably chat it up at PRSA luncheons.

Sector Specific Courses
~become an expert~
Do yourself a favor and list out some of your dream jobs. Whether your interests fall under the fashion or sports umbrella, you should keep your preferred sectors in mind, when you are registering for your next load of classes. While you have your public relations courses laid out for you, your electives could serve as the difference maker in getting you into your desired sector of the industry.

If possible, take a history course on the sector of your choice. Become an expert historian of your field, and leverage your knowledge in social settings. Apply that knowledge in your internships. Be the intern in the break room who is able to answer the question posed by a supervisor.

“I don’t have enough experience to put together a portfolio.”
~take credit for your hours~
Many of those who know me know I am a big advocate of showing work to support a resume. I plan to do a “Show, Don’t Tell” post in the short future, but this piece of advice primarily goes out to students who are seeking a first internship.

Take it from a practitioner who serves on an internship committee – it doesn’t look good on a resume, when a candidate doesn’t have a lick of real world public relations experience (especially for a senior) and doesn’t attempt to leverage the minimal experience he has from the classroom.

Simply listing your relevant coursework on your resume won’t convince me you have what it takes to write press materials or pitch media. What it tells me is you don’t have anything to show for your 1-3 years as a student.

Save your work. Package together an example of a press release, a media alert and a relevant assignment you’re proud of. I will forewarn this won’t always be enough to show your potential skills, but it may show your prospective employer you can handle the tasks required for an internship.

Final Notes
~there you have it – post No. 1~
I don’t have too much else to say, but I want to put the above advice in context. Yes, you want to join organizations and network and get as much real world experience before you graduate.

That said, don’t overlook your education. Value your grades. Your employer may not ask for your GPA, but consider your grades as a benchmark for your industry knowledge. It is a good habit to aim high. You won’t survive long in the real world doing C-level public relations work for your clients.

Your Thoughts
~share, and I’ll get back to you~
This is a new blog, and I know I am speaking to a huge audience. Let me know what topics you want me to cover. Feel free to toss me an e-mail. Let’s try to keep this blog focused on things you can do to get the experience you need for your first job or internship.

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9 thoughts on “Don’t Devalue Your Education

  1. Ryan! This is so great! I am really excited to see what else you have up your sleeve. If you need any hints about what to feature . . . I have tons! I would love to see something about cover letters. I have a million that I have written, and they are all very different. I feel as though everyone has a different idea of what should be in a cover letter, so it always makes me nervous to send one because I never know what their expectations are for cover letters. The whole process is daunting and exhausting for me. Keep up the great blogging!

  2. Ryan,

    You are spot on with your comments concerning school experience. I would add set goals and don’t get distracted from them. The working world is going to get more difficult to tap into in the future. Make your school experiences count toward a career.

  3. Smart thoughts, Ryan. One additional point – trust your instincts. Confidence shines through in one’s writing. And when the time comes for one to demonstrate verbally, the stage will be set and the audience will be ready to listen.

    Again, well said and congrats on the blog. Looking forward to following you…

  4. Excellent advice. Especially about putting together a media kit that you have created. Never thought about that up till now. Thanks heaps and looking forward to more thought provoking advice.

  5. Ryan…. without a doubt, your mentoring insight and experiences will be of great interest and help to countless PR students looking for guidance that will put them on the right path to finding opportunities to fulfill their own goals. The cover letter entry was very helpful to me, and I intend to apply your suggestions to my next letter. Really looking forward to following your blog.

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