Get a Job!

What is my advice to the soon-to-be public relations graduate? Get a job! Do not begin your graduate studies until you have spent at least a year working at a fulltime communications position.

I have known many PR graduates who chose to pursue their master’s degree immediately after they completed their bachelor’s degree. Personally, I believe such a move is a major mistake. By immediately following your bachelor’s degree with a master’s degree, you rob yourself of the most educating experience of all – a fulltime job.

Working in a fulltime job before you begin your master’s degree benefits you in many ways. Primarily, you gain that most sought-after requirement for future career endeavors – experience. You may think that internships will provide you with experience, but they do not. At least not true experience. Trust me, I held three internships as an undergraduate. Usually, the role that I played at my internships was that of the grunt. I wrote press releases, copy for brochures and handled phone calls. Only occasionally did I get to chime in with my recommendations. Internships only allow you to apply the elementary principles of PR that you learn in college.

Also, an internship usually does not last long enough for you to truly understand a company. As we all should know, you must accurately understand a company to be able to effectively communicate with its constituencies. My longest internship lasted only four months. Now, after working in the same company for two years, I can honestly say it takes much longer than four months to fully comprehend a company and its primary publics.

On the other hand, my fulltime job gives me the opportunity to accurately identify and understand my company’s publics. It also lets me view the “big picture.” I get to see every aspect of our communication campaigns, from the brainstorming session to inception and ultimately to completion and beyond. I witness how my company’s different communication pieces fit together to form a complete, unified message. There are many more reasons to seek out a fulltime job instead of immediately applying to graduate school. Some of them being:

  • A sizeable paycheck
  • Full immersion into the PR profession
  • Possible tuition assistance from your employer
  • A true understanding of corporate culture

Having a fulltime job for at least one year will also make you a better student whenever you do decide to pursue a graduate degree. This is perhaps one of the greatest benefits to getting a job as opposed to immediately enrolling in a graduate program. I can now immediately apply what I learn in my graduate classes to my job. I get to see if the ideas and theories that we discuss in class will actually work in a real world setting. This is not only a great benefit for me but for my company as well. I also better understand the subjects we address in class. Because of my work experience, I ask engaging questions and am able contribute more than other students in the class. Believe me, real world experience shows! You can definitely discern who in the class has had work experience and who has not.

Yes, getting a job after acquiring your undergraduate degree is the best route to take. However, it can be extremely difficult to find a job. It took me a year and six months to find mine. But the wait was well worth it and the real world education I have received is priceless!

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4 Responses to “Get a Job!”

  1. 1 Blake March 22, 2006 at 5:04 pm

    This is excellent advice. I was just having a discussion the other day about getting a Master’s in PR/Comm. While I think it will benefit you later on in your career – I think you can learn a whole lot more by getting some hands on experience first. I say wait it out for a year or two first and then decide.

  2. 2 Michael Morton March 22, 2006 at 5:59 pm

    Thanks Blake!

    I graduated with honors as an undergrad. I thought I would get a job and really impress my employer with my PR and writing skills. It turns out that I still had alot of learning to accomplish. Real world work experience is the only true education.

    Do you plan to pursue your Master’s degree?

  3. 3 Blake March 25, 2006 at 5:43 pm

    I don’t see myself going to grad school for PR or Comm, but maybe something else along the way will come along… Do you?

  4. 4 Michael Morton March 27, 2006 at 6:31 pm

    Right now I am in grad school for PR. I wanted to get my MBA but it would have taken me a whole two years just to get the prerequisets out of the way!

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Who am I ?

My name is Michael Morton. I believe in bringing energy and professionalism into the office, that knowledge is power, that leadership trumps management, that customers are more influential than advertisements, that content is king, and that two heads are better than one. I currently lead the marketing efforts of the Strategic Alliances department of my company. Let’s talk marketing!

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