Coming into college as a public relations major, I did not really know what to expect. I had an image of Samantha Jones from Sex in the City in my head, and the notion it would include a lot of writing and communicating with others. I never imagined all that PR could actually encompass.
As a college senior, I could not be more grateful to have attended The University of Alabama because I have not only been taught about the endless opportunities I can have in PR, but I have been given so many opportunities and experiences here that will help me later in my career.
To all the public relations and advertising majors out there, here are 5 steps to starting your PR career while at The University of Alabama:
1. Utilize the experienced PR professionals that are your teachers
Your teachers truly want to help you and make connections with you, but they also want to help you make connections. They have experience and have been in the business for a while, so even if they can’t get you an interview for your dream job, they probably know someone who can.
Teachers also make great mentors. Schedule an appointment with them, and pick their brains about their previous jobs or the industry as a whole. They know what it takes to make it in PR and can help point you in the right direction to take your career.
2. Join an organization
Joining an organization will not only teach you more about your field, but it will look great on your resume. There are also so many opportunities to become an officer or join a committee within an organization, which will look even better on your resume and help you connect with other students. Networking with other students in your field is just as helpful as networking with professionals. These are the people you’ll be working with and you can learn from each other’s experiences.
Some great organizations to join are Capstone Agency, PRSSA, PRCA, AD Fed, Bateman Team, Plank Center and Alabama Forensic Council. These organizations bring in professionals for you to network with and give you hands on experience that will benefit you in your career.
3. Take electives that will boost your resume
As a PR student, you get the opportunity to take electives that are centered around the specific direction you want to take your career in. Do some research and sign up for the sections that work with real clients. This is a great thing to put on your resume and talk about in interviews, as well as giving you amazing portfolio pieces.
4. Apply for an internship
There are a variety of internships you can apply for around campus and the best part is, they understand your class schedule. The university also offers tools like Handshake, a site where you can job search and apply for interviews. Simply applying and going on interviews will make you more comfortable with the process. You’ll be a pro by the time you apply for real jobs.
5. Take advantage of every opportunity
The best things you can do are to get involved and apply to everything. Opportunities like an Industry Immersion trip or working a conference can open your eyes to so many different PR possibilities. It will help you create connections that can later get you internships and jobs.
The University of Alabama is one of the best places to study public relations, but your experience is completely dependent on how you spend your time here. Follow these five steps and you’ll have a great start to your career. There is a reason PRWeek Magazine has recognized UA as having one of the top five PR programs in the nation.
This blog post was written by Jenni Penix. She is in the public relations department in Capstone Agency.