During my college career, I was very unsure of whether or not to pursue a specialization within the public relations industry or to keep a general focus. I had interests in various fields, and who doesn’t want to wake up every day to a job in which they are thoroughly intrigued? However, I didn’t want to be hindered in the job hunt for only having experience in one field. I chose to play it safe and keep business as my overlying generalization and taking on internships in a variety of different fields. After working within the public relations industry for a year and a half, I have been able to compare the results of my choice to those who have chosen a specialization, and have come to a few conclusions.
The first impression any employer gets from you is through your resume. It’s great to have a lot of experience in one field if you’re pursuing a career within that industry. However, a one-sided resume can work against you if you’re trying to switch things up. In interviews, be consistent with your overall package by not only talking about your diverse interests, but by having an assorted history to prove it. If the majority of your experience falls outside of the position for which you’re applying, you don’t want to create the assumption that you are just desperate for any job.
In today’s economy, it’s tough to get any job, especially a tailored one. It’s imperative to be able to market yourself to all types of organizations. If one industry stands out to you, get some initial experience within that industry, but gain knowledge in other areas as well. Variety highlights flexibility, and if times get tough, it’s always a good backup plan to be able to mold yourself to any circumstances.
When beginning a career in public relations, it’s crucial to get to know the entire business. The beauty of PR is that its function is used across industries. Don’t allow a specialty to hold you back from advancing your knowledge and range of skills in the overall industry.
Generality allows room for change. It’s very possible to get into a field that sounds interesting, but after working in it and learning all the pros and cons, it may not be what you thought it would be. Having broader experience allows you to move around and adapt your knowledge in different settings. On most occasions, a broader range of experience also teaches you what industries you prefer by allowing you to have put your feelers on many different things.
Specialties tend to form on these own, after years of experience in various industries. Deep knowledge is generally associated with an expertise, and generally a new professional doesn’t hold that wealth of knowledge. It’s much easier to streamline your experiences to one specialty after you have spent many years in the workforce.
Have you pursued a specialty within PR early in your career? Has becoming a “jack-of-all-trades” benefited your career development? Share your experiences below!
Whitney Winn is a communications assistant at Dewberry, a nationally leading professional services firm. From King William, Va., Winn has brought her public relations knowledge to the Washington, D.C., area, where she attended George Mason University. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in public relations.