Those who know me would say that I am quite the over-planner, so when my friends told me that they were already starting their post-grad job search, my mind felt like it was going to explode from anxiety.
Immediately I had so many questions and concerns about my process - Where do I start? Is this agency hiring now, or in nine months? This LinkedIn job posting already has over 200 applicants, will I even be considered? Right off the bat I was overwhelmed, stressed, and felt like I was miles behind my peers.
I knew I needed to get advice from someone who had been through this before, specifically who had already navigated the PR industry. So, I emailed my amazing professor, Dr. Luke Capizzo, frantically asking to talk on Zoom with hopes he would calm me down. And he did!
If you are a senior PR student also feeling frustrated with your job-hunting process, try instead using job sites like LinkedIn just as a networking tool (for now).
I know, I know, you have probably been told to network a billion times by now. Quite honestly I always knew that it was something I needed to do, but I didn’t know how to network in a meaningful manner. Dr. Capizzo to the rescue!
A really great point he made was that PR is a fast-changing industry that probably won’t have job postings nine months before they need someone. This is because agencies’ contracts with their clients are constantly changing, and an agency might not know how many employees they need on-board until contracts are re-assessed. So unfortunately for us, the October before graduation probably won't be the best time to find a job.
Instead of searching for jobs right now, focus on creating connections with people already in the field. Dr. Capizzo suggests connecting with and messaging recent JMU alum to hear about the industry, their experiences and any tips for a senior PR student looking for a job. If they have been in the field for less than 10 years, they are going to find your message more meaningful and exciting than someone who has 10+ years of experience. Aim high in the amount of people you message - the worst thing that can happen is not getting a response!
Reaching out to those in the field will also hopefully give you a boost when job opportunities are more readily available. Having made prior connections, it will be easier for you to message those you already talked with to say “Remember me?” rather than starting with a blank slate.
Main takeaway here: If you are like me - a senior PR major worrying about what life is going to look like in a year - take a deep breath. While other majors may already have tons of job opportunities posted for next year, we’re not necessarily in the same boat. Also, if you are having these nerves, talking to faculty or professionals in the field (like the great Dr. Capizzo) is extremely beneficial! Other sources like PR Week and PRSA have plenty of posts to help you navigate the job-searching process as well.