PR is a competitive industry, so you don’t want to wait till you graduate from college to start preparing yourself for the real world. Instead, start laying the foundation while you are still in school. This way you will have an advantage when you start to look for a job.
When I was in college, I had no idea what I wanted to do. All I knew was that I was majoring in PR because it seemed broad enough to work in any industry that I wanted. I regret not have more strategy when it came to my post-graduation plans. Luckily, everything turned out fine.
From my experience, here are a few things I would recommend you do as early as freshman year:
I cannot stress this enough. The only reason I have my own business today is because I interned in college. The real world experience helped me to land my first clients.
Yes, you can learn all the basics in the classroom, but you don’t learn the nuances of industry until you are living them. When you are interning, you learn if you can deal with the fast-pace environment of PR.
Don’t let where you live stop you from interning. I hear it all the time from people that want to break into fashion; they can’t intern if they don’t live in NYC or LA. False. Even if you don’t specifically intern in the fashion industry, you are still learning basics that you can apply anywhere you end up.
Yes, you can learn all the basics in the classroom, but you don’t learn the nuances of industry until you are living them.
Build a portfolio
Start learning how to get media placements. It can be hard to learn how to pitch, unless you are actually reaching out to the media. You don’t need a completed college degree to do that.
As a student, take on a few smaller projects to build a portfolio. This will be impressive to potential employers. Where do you look for these opportunities? Do PR for a school club you are involved in or a non-profit that can’t afford a full-time publicist. Or even a friend’s band that is doing a local show. These small-scale projects can really help you to learn the ins and outs of the PR world.
You never know where your next opportunity or job will come from.
Meet as many people as possible
You never know where your next opportunity or job will come from. Job fairs and conferences are good places to start meeting people. Also, don’t be afraid to reach out to people to people you admire to meet for coffee or lunch. Most of the time, people will say yes.
As a general rule of thumb in PR, you should never stop meeting people.
Photo via: Levo League