Unlike most PR/Communication students, I did not complete any internships while in college and as we all know, the key to obtaining an entry level position is experience. Because I didn’t have any real work practice it was very important for me to build my personal brand. I needed to demonstrate professionalism and capability that could overshadow my lack of experience, and I needed to promote myself through networking.
After graduation, I took advantage of the discounted rate for recent grads and joined PRSA and the local PRSA chapter. I attended as many networking events as possible (most chapters offer student and recent-grad admission prices). I researched online for free business cards and got them printed through Vista Print. I developed business cards with my contact information so that I could hand out something at these events and more so to stand out and be memorable. Although, I didn’t have a job or own my own company, I had business cards. Pretty impressive!
I knew I wanted to pursue a career in PR, but I didn’t know what route I wanted to take, and I knew it was important to maintain my networks and build new relationships. The summer after I graduated was filled with informational interviews, internship interviews, full-time interviews, and volunteer positions because it was important to build my resume and get my name out in my area.
As summer came to an end, my professionalism and relationship-building paid off. I was offered an internship in the PR department of a local advertising agency. It was a perfect match–I was more mature than your typical intern; however, they didn’t have to pay me an entry level salary, and I was treated as an extension of their team. I had accounts and projects of my own to work on. It was a great resume and portfolio builder.
One key thing I learned that summer is that it’s important to develop your own brand to show companies just a taste of what you can do for them!
BRITTNEY GILLISON (PR Coordinator, University of Pittsburgh) is a graduate of Slipper Rock University with a bachelor’s degree in communication. Brittney currently serves as the public relations coordinator for the University of Pittsburgh’s Office of Institutional Advancement, where she supports the communications and marketing program for the University’s $2 billion fundraising campaign.