4 Things Every PR Student Should Be Doing On Campus

Heather Harder
Heather Harder

Think having a relevant internship is enough to land your dream job or internship? Think again. Today’s graduates need more than internships to stand out.

When I review resumes, I look for involvement in the campus community. On-campus engagement shows the interviewer that you invest in your community, a quality that would transfer to your time as a new employee.

Here are four things every student should do on campus to enhance their marketability for a dream job or internship:

1. Volunteer to do public relations for relevant campus and community groups.

Who doesn’t want free public relations? The best way to gain experience in the industry that you hope to enter is to volunteer to do public relations for a related organization on or near campus. This not only provides relevant experience, but also offers the freedom to try new strategies and tactics and to take more initiative than you would at an internship.

Here are a few examples of relevant connections:

  • Public and government affairs: Student Government Association, College Democrats or College Republicans
  • Technology: EcoCAR or a student engineering society
  • Health care: A public health or pre-med society, or a local clinic
  • Higher education: Residence life or the student union
  • Fashion and beauty: A local hair salon or boutique
  • Food and beverage: A local restaurant or bar
  • Sports: Campus recreation or club sports
  • Nonprofit: The student volunteer center or a specific nonprofit on campus

2. Pitch to a local paper.

If you don’t secure media coverage at an internship, you still have a shot at securing coverage in your student newspaper or the local paper near your university. As you volunteer to do public relations for a campus organization, include securing media coverage in your goals.

3. Take classes that will help you grow.

Stop taking the courses that have easy reviews on Rate My Professor, and start taking the courses that will help you grow into the professional you need to be.

If you’re worried about GPA, consider auditing a course that you are interested in but do not need to graduate.

Here are a few classes to consider taking:

  • Challenging public relations courses: There is nothing wrong with taking the easy biology course, but challenge yourself in your selected major.
  • Finance and/or accounting: Public relations professionals need to know how to develop budgets and read financial reports.
  • Marketing: Rarely can you get away with only knowing public relations. It’s time you learn about marketing (and yes, there is a difference).

4. Frequent the career development center. 

Campus career centers can offer practice interviews, resume reviews, job leads, free headshots, interview call rooms and more. Scope out what your campus career center offers, and you will likely discover resources you never knew existed.

At a minimum, make an appointment with your career center once a year. Make the most of it by coming prepared with an expected outcome, an updated resume and a list of questions.

What else can students do on campus to prepare for their future careers? Share your thoughts below.

Heather Harder is an account executive at Capstrat, an integrated agency in Raleigh, N.C. Outside Capstrat, Heather volunteers as the PRSSA Immediate Past President and PRSSA chair for North Carolina PRSA. Follow her new pro adventures by following her on Twitter @HeathHarder, and learn more about the PRSA New Pros section at prnewpros.prsa.org.  

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