20 Nov 4 PR Job Hunting Tips from a Liberal Arts Grad
By: Molly Galler
I graduated from college in May of 2006 and headed straight into the workforce. My first job was in financial services and it took me two years to realize that I wanted something more. Something more…creative. Energizing. Inspiring.
In the spring of 2008, I started at my first PR agency. I took a major pay cut and a step down in title to start from the beginning and learn the ropes. Part of what I learned in my first few months was that many of my colleagues had graduated from prestigious communications programs at places like Boston University or Syracuse.
Initially, I was intimidated. I went to a small, liberal arts school. I had never taken a course where I drafted press releases, or planned mock advertising campaigns, or drafted tweets for a prospective client. However, over the years, I’ve learned all the ways in which my liberal arts degree has made me uniquely valuable to my teams and my clients.
Now, nearly 10 years out from my graduation (eeek!), I return to campus a few times a year to speak to students interested in careers in communications. Knowing the barriers they’ll face when applying for jobs without a traditional communications degree, I’ve become invested in showing students all the ways their classroom experiences and on-campus leadership roles can make them attractive PR candidates.
Below is my list of “what I wish I’d known sooner” when marketing yourself for a career in PR.
1. LinkedIn Profiles Aren’t Just for People Already in the Workforce
It’s a common misconception that as a college student you don’t have enough work or leadership experience to populate a LinkedIn profile. Do you have an on-campus job? Do you manage people in that role? Add it.
Did you design the website for your department, club, or a cappella group? Add it.
Did you hold a position in Student Government? On a planning committee? Add it.
While these experiences may not have been in a traditional office setting, that doesn’t make them any less noteworthy. Many of the skills you develop on campus are transferable into the PR agency world.
2. Teamwork Counts — Yes, Even Your Sports Team
One of the most critical elements for success in a PR agency is the ability to work on a team. All accounts are staffed by multiple people and you need to be able to thrive alongside a variety of personality types and work styles.
With that in mind, if you were on a sports team and you had a leadership role on that team, tout that on your resume. Be sure it’s on your LinkedIn profile.
That experience corralling and motivating your teammates is stellar proof that you’ll jump into the team environment with ease.
3. Your Liberal Arts Education is an Asset, Not an Apology
Traditional liberal arts programs require students to take classes across disciplines – English, history, math, science, foreign language and more. Given their exposure to multiple areas of study and a healthy dose of both left brain and right brain activity, liberal arts grads tend to be excellent writers, critical thinkers and problem solvers.
Rather than seeing your liberal arts degree as a strike against you in the quest to land a PR job, leverage your diverse knowledge to demonstrate you’ve got what it takes.
4. Nothing Tops Genuine Passion
Lastly, no matter what it says on your diploma, there is no substitute for passion, fire and hustle. People who succeed in PR are highly motivated, super organized and tenacious about getting the best results for their clients. You can’t teach that kind of drive in school. If you have that natural go-getter attitude, be sure to showcase that during your interview.
Tell me, my fellow liberal arts grads, other tips you’d add to the list?
Image c/o dailyherald.com.