My colleague Meredith wrote an excellent post last week highlighting the importance of the alumni network for soon-to-be college grads. Leveraging this network can help you land an externship, an internship and other opportunities to see the inside of a potential career path.
If you are majoring in Communications or a similar field, it can seem pretty straightforward to pursue an internship or entry level position in PR. But if you’re looking at PR (or a similar field) and your major was more a product of passion than practicality, the task might seem more daunting. The good news is, good old Liberal Arts degrees (like mine) can be valuable assets in the PR world.
The importance of keeping an open mind as you set off on your career journey cannot be overstated. Nothing is truer for the recent graduate than to drop preconceptions and look at all the potential opportunities out there. English Major? Doesn’t mean you have to teach. History Major? Doesn’t mean you have to… teach. Political Science? The U.S. Embassy in Nigeria may not be in your future. Fortunately, PR can be a good place for Liberal Arts majors.
Apply what you know. You’ve become a talented writer, which is one of the most essential tools in PR. And your comprehension is refined as well, and your ability to break down difficult concepts and communicate the main ideas. Again, major assets in PR. If you’re a product of today’s digital environs, then you’re already social media savvy and you digest news and other info from Google and Twitter like Pac Man consumes white dots. The next step is to be proactive with this information and learn how it applies to the profession. You need to realize that, when properly executed and applied strategically, these skills are perfect for this industry.
But you (usually) can’t just waltz into the profession. That’s why seeking out relevant opportunities is so important. Meredith aptly pointed out the value of externships, with case studies to boot. Internships are of course great too, even if they are unpaid. The more experience you can cite, the better (to a point; 10 internships on a resume probably isn’t very encouraging to a prospective employer). Armed with experience, your educational background becomes more relevant.
When interviewing for an internship or entry level position in PR, try to articulate how the skills and experiences you have will be valuable in this position. Liberal Arts degrees have been sometimes accused as being worth little more than wall decorations, but it’s undeniable that earning one requires diligence, perceptiveness, analytical thinking and refined communication skills. So if you’re thinking about PR, and if the idea of communicating enthuses you, then carry that Liberal Arts degree with pride and find yourself a spot on the front lines.