There are so many opportunities for PR majors to gain experience, learn about the industry and connect with other professionals before graduating. Here are just a few of the things that have helped me:
1. Student-Run PR firms
Of course, I had to include this one. Bluestone Communications has been such a great experience for me and it has given me a first-look at what a career in PR will be like. If your school has a PR agency, I highly recommend it. It not only looks great on your resume, but it also allows you to test out the industry and get a feel for the agency world.
2. Public Relations Student Society of America
The JMU chapter of PRSSA has been an awesome resource for me and I've learned so much through conferences, assemblies, agency visits and PRSA events. I've met students from other chapters, professionals from all over and gotten close with members of the PRSA Richmond chapter. These relationships have helped me obtain internships and professional advice over the years.
Internships are super important to gain valuable experience in the PR field. Many employers are looking for 2 - 3 years of experience and internships can substitute beginner experience. Do a Google search, utilize LinkedIn and Handshake and reach out to your connections. This is a great opportunity to build your portfolio and prepare for a career in PR.
4. Volunteer Work
If you don't have access to a student-run PR firm, a local PRSSA chapter or internships in your area, try volunteering your time at a smaller organization o
r non-profit. Offer your services (social media management, writing, design, etc.) and you'll have real, published work to show future employers.
5. Books & Journals
In your limited spare time, reading is a great option to soak up information from leading experts in the field. Here are a few that I've enjoyed so far:
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
Just My Type by Simon Garfield
Draft No. 4 by John McPhee
Contagious by Jonah Berger