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October 22, 2019

Dear Graduating Communications Major:

First off, congratulations for completing your studies and choosing an exciting career path.

While I hold a firm belief that your undergraduate years should be about learning what it is you WANT to learn, in this job market, you NEED to have specific skills and experience to even get your foot in the door.

I meet graduating communications majors every spring , to give them a chance to interview, learn a little about the industry, and to get some guidance on how to proceed. With few exceptions, these students are coming out with little if any experience and limited skills to contribute to a PR or Marketing firm. I’d prefer to hire a philosophy major with leadership experience and some workable skills than a Phi Beta Kappa Communications Major without it.

What I look for in an entry-level communications employee:

  • Experience: Event and festival volunteers, fraternity/sorority event planners, bloggers, amateur video or web developers, college paper editors, college radio hosts, and other leadership roles.
  • Practical skills: Good written communication skills (first and foremost), the ability to edit, social media use to spread the word about your pet project or organization (not just familiarity with your personal Facebook page), photography, videography, HTML, graphic design, web design, etc. Certainly not all of these, but SOME of these.
  • Basic computer skills including Microsoft Office Suite.
  • Bonus computer skills: Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, Fireworks, and even WordPress.

If you are looking for an internship, consider what area you are most interested in pursuing. Is it sports marketing, festival and event planning, healthcare PR, public affairs, media relations, crisis communications, community relations, or online marketing? You have lots of options.

Some ideas to beef up that resume:

  • Intern for one of your local elected officials.
  • Shadow a legislative aide.
  • Volunteer for a political campaign.
  • Volunteer at a polling site in November.
  • Write a guest column for a community newspaper.
  • Volunteer for community/charity events.
  • Work on the student newsletter/paper staff.
  • Intern with a local radio or cable TV station.
  • Maximize your scholastic or social leadership experience.
  • Start a blog about these experiences!

One last thought:
If you are not already, get on LinkedIn. AND, make sure your Facebook page is presentable to a potential employer. Yes, we will cyber-stalk you.

Good luck!

Going the Digital Communications Route:

The Emergence of Social Media

Currently, one of the most popular non-traditional marketing channels is social media. Many companies are experimenting with FaceBook, Twitter, FourSquare, LinkedIn, Wikipedia, YouTube, Digg, Yelp, etc. These communication channels are cost effective compared to traditional marketing options. The challenge is in understanding HOW to use these tools and dedicating the time necessary to execute an effective campaign.

Social media is not something to be foisted off on a junior employee, or (horrors!) an unsupervised intern. It takes a carefully thought out plan, with story lines, calendar and editorial schedule. There should be plenty of thought put into what photos, video, and web links to include to keep it fresh and entertaining.

Once a plan is laid out, a less senior person can execute the postings but still need a supervisor to monitor responses and determine if the campaign is rolling out effectively. Get to know your audience as you post and adjust as needed to encourage interactions.