Graduating from university is both exciting and daunting. You are suddenly in a situation where you are ready to start your career but don’t know quite how to get there. Every public relations, marketing and communications job out there requires experience, experience that as a recent university graduate, you don’t have. It’s easy to give up when you don’t see internships, work experience and junior jobs advertised on a daily basis. But, it’s important to realise that at some point, everyone was in the same situation.
After graduating university, despite my best efforts, I was unable to secure internships in Brisbane. So, I travelled to Sydney. I lived in Sydney for two months, interning full time for an international brand. Now I have been working as a Public Relations and Social Media Consultant for KDPR for more than a year. From my experience, here are my top ways to finding work after university.
I know it sounds cliché and is drummed into you…but it really is vital in our industry. Even if you aren’t offered a job at the conclusion of your internship, you have gained invaluable experience and connections in the public relations industry.
- When interning, be prepared
Come to your internship with an idea of key things you would like to learn, writing media releases, listening to a consultant pitch, sitting in on a brainstorm, reporting etc. If you have an idea on areas to improve on throughout your internship, you can gain extremely beneficial experience for starting your career.
- Show initiative
If you can’t find an internship in an agency, go somewhere else. Don’t pigeon hole your search purely to an agency. Be proactive and when the opportunities don’t come to you – go to them. There are a lot of ways to gain experience in the communications industry. Go to your local shopping centre and ask for work experience with their marketing team, talk to your local council and see if you can gain work experience for a couple of weeks…your favourite sports club, brand, retailer etc., are all possibilities. There are a multitude of opportunities out there just waiting to be embraced. Also think of any contacts you may have and could gain experience from.
- Embrace every opportunity
You never know where an opportunity can lead you. It might not be specifically what you want to do but experience is experience and you can never have too much of it. Working in an agency means constantly working on different clients. Therefore, gaining experience at multiple in-house internships allows you to see how each of the companies operate internally – and who knows, one of the companies you intern at may end up being your client in the future if you work in an agency.
- Get online
I cannot stress this enough. Opportunities arise from LinkedIn regularly. In fact, my job at KDPR came through connecting with my Managing Director, Kristin Devitt, on LinkedIn. Ensure your social media accounts reflect the job you would like to work in. For instance, if you want to work in fashion and you love photography – show that on your channels. Employers will check your social media before a job interview so make sure every (and I mean every) social media channel reflects your personal brand. There have been a lot of people hired purely because companies love their social media presence and understanding of the digital landscape. Because your social media is your brand, ensure there are no inappropriate photos on any social media accounts. It may not make a huge difference to you when you’re at uni but in a communications workplace, public, inappropriate social media accounts are not acceptable.
In align with ‘’get online’’, connect with industry professionals once you have a social media presence. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and of course (and most importantly), LinkedIn. Follow the companies, look at their dynamic, their photos, their team and who their clients are – job and internship opportunities are often advertised on social media channels. Also keep in contact with classmates and lecturers, your classmates are the future of the industry after all.
- Tailor your resume and cover letter
You have probably heard this before but ‘’Dear Sir/Madam” or “To whom it may concern” is not an effective address to reach employees. Go on LinkedIn – who is the Managing Director? Who is the Director? Find their name and email and address them accordingly. Also, read the job description and cater your resume to reflect it. If the employer wants social media experience, showcase your understanding of the digital world.
- Stand out
Are you good at writing? Start a blog to showcase your skills. Social media your passion? Build a page you can use as an example to employees on how to grow business. Photography? Have a portfolio available to attach with your resume. There will be something you are passionate about, something that makes you stand out and once you enhance that skill, it will differentiate you from other applicants.
- Enjoy what you’re doing
The most important step. If you don’t love it, you won’t have the drive to achieve it. Show employees your passion and strive for the role and your willingness to learn from their experience.
Article written by KDPR PR & Social Media Consultant, Liana Bignall (@LianaBignall).