Your four (or more) years of college often consist of hours spent in the library doing homework, studying for exams, and working on dreaded group projects. But acing midterms and writing killer papers might not prepare you for the career of your dreams. Professors do their best to pass on their knowledge and prepare you for the “real world” upon graduation, but some things just can’t be taught. Certain skills can only be learned through experience from internships or summer jobs.
Here are some ways to gain the skills necessary for a job in public relations:
- Be a news junkie: College classes do not emphasize the importance of keeping up to date with current events. It can be easy to get wrapped up in your day-to-day life and events that directly affect you. As a PR professional it is extremely valuable to stay on top of the happenings of the regional, national, and world news.
- Press releases: Learning how to write a press release is something you probably covered in your public relations or communications classes, but it is also important to know what happens after the release is drafted. Your college doesn’t teach you how to write a quote for the release, how to compile a media list, or how to actually distribute the release. These are skills you would learn in an internship.
- Proofread: Technology and relying on your own proofreading skills have taken the place of peer review sessions. The ability to proofread your own work is one of the most valuable skills in the industry. Public relations writing must always be concise, timely, and most importantly client and media-ready.
- Client contact etiquette: College does not instill the confidence needed to contact a client directly. While you probably won’t gain this upon your arrival at an agency, it is important to understand proper email etiquette, timeliness, and how to approach various situations. It may be helpful to ask a friend who works in a professional setting the proper way phones should be answered and emails should be responded to.
College cannot prepare you for everything, which is why internships are a great opportunity. They expose you to your field of study and allow for ample learning opportunities. Internships also build your resume, which will make you a more viable candidate for future jobs.