I was honored to host a series of roundtables with other public relations professionals at PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) Career Development Day in St. Louis.
Each PR professional was asked to facilitate a small roundtable with area college students seeking a career in public relations or communications. The goal was to gain an inside look at the public relations business from a variety of different perspectives.
Students rotated from table to table every thirty minutes. They were able to ask questions from those in corporate communications, in non-profit communications, with large public relations firms, and with small public relations firms.
The roundtables revealed a few interesting perspectives from the students at my table.
1. Selective social media plays a key factor in students’ lives. No surprise here but contrary to recent studies many of the students utilize Facebook to a great extent. This contradicts some recent research that indicated teenagers and young adults were abandoning that medium for other sites. Some, closer to graduation, are starting to utilize LinkedIn. Instagram was also mentioned along with YouTube and Twitter.
2. Internships are crucial to securing a job. The students realize they need to have work experience in public relations to enhance their chances of finding full-time employment. Some indicated it is important to have two to three internships just to be considered by larger more selective PR firms.
3. Pursuit of a master’s degree is becoming a necessity. Several of the students commented that a master’s degree is almost like the equivalent of what a high school diploma was in the past. Companies have a large pool of candidates to select from and a master’s degree places the student on at least equal footing with others. In some cases it can elevate them above the pack.
4. Students realized they have to make their own breaks. Most understood they have to take an aggressive approach in their pursuit of job opportunities. We were asked repeatedly about potential job openings and internships at our firm. Many of the students have even followed up with us with connections on LinkedIn.
Overall I was impressed with the background and aggressive nature of most of the students. It left a positive imprint with at least one PR pro that the future of the public relations profession will be in good hands.