A while back PRChannel published a series of posts on “Advice for the PR Grad“, PR pros from around the world wrote in to share knowledge and give advice to those recent grads just starting out. This time we sought out a different point of view – recent grads who have followed all the advice, but in this economic climate are still finding themselves ‘jobless’. Here’s a spotlight written by a recent grad finding herself in a jobless situation despite doing ‘all the right things’.
There are endless tips out there from pros helping recent PR Grads take-off on their professional endeavors. Although I’ve done most everything the pros suggest, I still find myself jobless. Some say that if you haven’t landed a position within the first month after graduation, then it takes an average of eight months to find your first post-college position.
Well, I graduated two months ago, and have followed to the “T” every piece advice given to me from various sources in my efforts to put theory into practice. Thus far I have gained several contacts, secured a few interviews, even was a top ten finalist of the MS&L Worldwide Chicago Internship Challenge of 2009, but no full-time job. All (or at least most) of my efforts started back when I first set foot on my college campus; indeed, I’ve done everything from paid and unpaid internships to workshops on interviewing. But my efforts were put into high gear three months before graduation. Here are more details of what I’ve done.
- Get involved: Over and over career services, employers and professors will argue that “practice makes perfect.” I’m not perfect but practice has helped me decipher where I want to be in the future. My collegiate involvement and employment background have given me the opportunity to perform various PR activities, presentations—and most importantly—I have worked as a team leader as well as a team member. I completed a B.S. in Public Relations and Broadcasting, but when I declared them as my majors I was unsure what each profession really entailed. Getting involved and networking led me to my first internship in radio allowing me to learn, hands-on, what each was all about. My first internship was during the summer of my sophomore year at a local radio station. I was exposed to every department, including sales, promotions, productions account and even engineering. This hands-on experience started the ball rolling—and I’ve done a total of five internships in both PR and Broadcasting; only 2 were paid. These positions include: Promotions Intern at a radio station; Program Coordinator for a YMCA branch; Public Relations Intern for the Communication Department at NWMSU; Creative Promotions Intern for a television station and Firm Director for a Student-run Firm.
These internships have helped me narrow down what I want to do. I’ve learned much about the industry, found some of the greatest people and advisers, networked and received stellar recommendations during my internships, but I have not found the position that I want to pursue.
- Build Bridges: Ever heard of “make sure to always leave a good first impression?” More than just making a good impression with the people you meet and/or work for, it is extremely important to keep in touch with them—they can be your ticket to a better job. This becomes especially important with the media’s rapid change because it not only shows you stay current with the media but it allows you stay connected to those who you are no longer working for but would like their support and, hopefully, their recommendation.
I have created several profiles on online networks like LinkedIn, Monster, Experience and Facebook, which I regularly update and make sure they look very professional. I have a couple recommendations on my LinkedIn profile, some are from internships I did and the others of supervisors from the University (Northwest Missouri State University) I recently graduated from. I spend an average of 20 hours a week exploring twitter, LinkedIn, and other network links. Having said that, I think it’s actually knowing who I “follow”, contacting them, and the type of content I post on twitter that has generated such opportunities (including this one! I found PRChannel on Twitter) Through Twitter I have found and applied for a total of ten positions.
- Clean and Revamp: Speaking of updating and looking professional, I have reviewed my resume around fifty times within the last two months. I have cleaned it up so that it looks well-organized and, most importantly, so it shows results. I think of it as a cheat sheet for employers; they can see the results of my projects while I was an intern, or as an employee. I also had several contacts, who are all part of the workforce, take a second look. In addition, I subscribe to several different newsletters where I read about how I can bolster my presence online.
- Word of Mouth: Talking to everyone you meet and know is the key to networking. I’ve kept in touch with friends who graduated last year for their advice and/or leads as to who is hiring. Through this I found two different companies that I was really interested in and as a result I applied. I’ve found this process to be more efficient due to my friend’s influence and recommendations.I normally request to know more about the position available and who exactly to contact before I submit a cover letter and my resume—if it is through their website. In the case of the positions where I had a contact I will wait to see which method works best for the human resource office, which usually is through their direct email. This is always better than just emailing a generic company email address.
In my research I have also been very flexible about the location of where I apply. I do not mind moving to another state for a job position and I’ve made it very clear in my cover letters and emails when requesting more information.
A professor once told me that in order to be successful in your job search you must make it “a full time job to find a job.” His words remain in the back of my mind, making me restless as I’ve had to get a part time job in order to pay bills and stay afloat—sadly I’m still a “college student” in that sense.
This post was written by Alejandra Alvarez, a recent grad from Northwest Missouri State University with a double major in Public Relations and Broadcasting. She lives in the very center of the U.S. but hasn’t always; indeed, before moving to Kansas City she lived in California for a few years. However, her story starts in Guatemala City, Guatemala. Fluent in Spanish and English, she’s still looking for a full-time position where she can exercise them both. Want to give Allie a job? Get in touch with her using Twitter (@alliealvarez) or visit her LinkedIn profile.