Written by: Ashley Harris, AAE of CWU Collegiate Sport Clubs
College students make up nearly 40% of those unemployed in the U.S. Students are forced to face the sad reality that their college degree may not land them a job. As unfortunate as it may be, statistics have proven that a degree does not guarantee a career. Students are under large amounts of stress to find a job that will not only support them financially, but will also equip them to pay back student loans. So with all that said, the questions lies, what is it that makes a successful college graduate? What do students need to do in order to have the best possible chance of landing a quality job out of college? Although the employment rate is gradually rising within recent graduates, it is still lower than normal. College students, especially those majoring in PR, are forced to differentiate themselves from the rest of their peers (Davis, Kimball, Gould, 2015).
In the hopes of helping not only current PR students, but also recently graduated, jobless PR students, I’m going to explain the three steps students NEED TO TAKE in order to have a better chance of landing a job -straight out of college-
- Network, Network, Network!
One of the most important steps to landing a job out of college is putting yourself out there! Networking allows you to make strategic connections and build relationships. Networking creates lasting impressions, and often leads to future job opportunities. When people do business, they are more likely to do it with people they trust. As New York Stock Exchange President Tom Farley described, “When I think about my own career, I owe every job I’ve ever had to networking” (Goodman, 2015).
There are different networking paths to take, some of which include:
- Social Media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn
- Business conventions
- Social gatherings such as parties and banquets
- Volunteering at events that relate to your degree
- Clubs (PRSSA, etc)
***Hate networking? Not an extrovert? Fake it till you make! Not all PR professionals are super outgoing. Just make sure you are personable, and can hold a conversation.
- Gain experience
Students all over let out a communal sigh of exasperation at the unspoken, but obvious irony that an applicant needs experience to earn an entry level position. It’s a frustrating, but unfortunate reality that most jobs will not hire recent graduates due to their lack of experience. Gaining experience will not only help you build knowledge and skills towards your major, but it will also allow you to build up your resume. There are several different ways students can gain experience in their field of choice. Here’s a list of some important ones:
Volunteer: Volunteering is one of the first steps students may want to take when first exploring their major. By volunteering, students gain knowledge and skills in their field of study, while also exploring what that field has to offer. Most schools will post volunteer opportunities online. And a bonus…because volunteers aren’t paid, no experience necessary!
Job Shadow: When first exploring your major, a job shadow is one of the first steps to take in order to see if this is the right field for you. Job shadowing allows students to receive a better understanding of their major and get a look at the real world work environment of their chosen field. Shadowing allows you to create workplace connections, and it also shows future employers that you are passionate about the field. A bonus to shadowing is that it’s usually just a onetime thing, no commitment necessary.
Internship: Internships are one of the most powerful tools in gaining experience. Most internships require no experience at all. Some are paid, while others are not. On resumes, an internship looks equally as appealing as an entry level job. You’re still equipped with the knowledge and skills that usually follow with most entry level jobs.
Jobs: Even with lacking experience, students can often get on-campus jobs that directly relate to their major. For example, if you are majoring in business, you can often find an on-campus job that coincides with a business major. Jobs allow you to gain real world experience. They also give you references for future employees to refer back to…oh and money $$$$
- Utilize Your Resources
When you’re a college student, especially a PR major, you are equipped with an abundance of helpful tools to help you down your path of adulthood. These tools range anywhere from online resources, on campus resources, or off campus resources. Often, time and effort is what holds students back from entertaining these opportunities. Students! If that is you, stop! Once you graduate, these resources will no longer be available, so use them while you can!
So, If you’re a soon to be PR graduate, or even a recently graduated PR pro, and are still unsure of what your future career looks like, don’t be scared! Use this list, take out your boxing gloves, and get ready to fight for your dream job…Not really, but you get the point!
Davis, Kimball, & Gould. (2015, May 27). The Class of 2015: Despite an Improving Economy, Young Grads Still Face an Uphill Climb. Retrieved February 26, 2016, from http://www.epi.org/publication/the-class-of-2015/
Goodman. (2015, May 27). Retrieved February 26, 2016, from http://www.newsweek.com/2015/06/05/millennial-college-graduates-young-educated-jobless-335821.html