With a fifth of new graduates being out of work we can’t deny that the job market is fierce and it is more than difficult to get that first job. Many employers are expecting a University degree at 2.1 or higher so undergraduates are working hard to achieve those grades. But unfortunately that’s not enough, as the important work experience is crucial to land a job in any professional industry at the moment. However, an internship or a work placement shouldn’t just be seen as a necessary need to get a foot into your desired industry, it should be an opportunity to really find something you’re passionate about whilst learning new things and meeting useful contacts.
We’ve met up with Melanie Howe to get some good tips on how to get into the PR industry. Melanie studied French and German at the University of Bristol, working at the student radio and student newspaper as well as spending a year abroad as part of her studies. Through various work placements at model agencies, The Guardian and ITV Melanie became certain that she wanted to work in PR and set out to learn as much as possible about the industry. She got offered an internship at Slam PR and was subsequently hired as an Assistant Account Executive last year. Here she shares her top tips with us, outlining some great advice on how to get into the industry:
- Start approaching your favourite companies whilst still at school or at university. We’ve had some great interns and work experience who have still been wrapping up their A Levels – I cannot emphasise how important it is to get experience in your chosen industry as early as possible
- Do go to university if you want to. University offers you some fantastic life experience and allows you to meet some really important people to help support your personal development. Working life will wait, and employers will be grateful for your dedication and educational background
- Get in contact with local press teams by your universities, at your student unions or hometowns to demonstrate proactivity and learn about the industry in various arenas
- Tailor every CV and every covering letter you write – do not think that a generic letter will get you noticed, the graduate market is fierce and you have to be original to stand out. Whilst a brilliant covering letter might work at one agency, a cheeky chocolate bar gift might work at another
- Be present online: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and more are all your friends and ideal for researching potential employers and learning about their campaigns. If you can use examples of these in your first meetings you are well on the way to standing out from the crowd
- Interviews require preparation – you would be surprised the amount of people who just turn up without sufficient preparation. Look into LinkedIn, Google news searches, social media and more for information and the company and your potential new co-workers
- On your internship make yourself indispensible. If you are able to be confident enough to carve out your own role within the agency they will quickly find that they can’t do without you! It sounds cliché to say ‘think outside the box’ but the interns who really stand out are the ones who demonstrate where they can see clients being, new press office angles and ones who always volunteer to help
- Whilst an internship doesn’t always guarantee a job, it does guarantee meeting lots of new people who know even more people! Stay in touch and visit the offices when you can to keep the dialogue going between yourself and your desired agency. Even a Christmas card can work wonders!