Preview: Entry-Level PR
For students and recent graduates looking to "break into" the fun and challenging world of public relations
This Blog Is Moving
Sorry for the hiatus everyone - this blog is moving to www.EntryLevel-PR.com
once the brand new Web site is done on May 11. I have been working hard to secure the designers and programmers for the site, which is why I have not written. Again, the blog will be back in full-force starting May 11.
What Salary Can You Expect?
Often, when asked to provide salary requirements, entry-level folks will use data from sites such as Salary.com. However, take some advice from someone who has applied for entry-level jobs all across the country - those estimates are very, very high.
As an entry-level practitioner with 0-1 internships, your salary range will fall somewhere between $25,000 and $27,000. If you had 2 internships, your salary range will be $27,000-$30,000. If you had 3+, expect the low $30s.
So, when you go to include this information in your cover letter, keep this in mind. At my previous job, when I served as a hiring manager, we tossed any outrageous salary requirements without even looking at the resume.
Turning Your Internship into a Full-Time Job
As a follow-up to my last post about how it's ok to accept a summer internship to start off your post-college career, I have a piece of advice about how you can turn that internship into a full-time job.
In addition to the obvious - doing great work - keep a daily diary/journal of everything you do at your internship and what you learned that day. Keep a notebook at your desk to record this information and type it up in the evenings. The reason I say to type it is because at the end of your internship you are going to turn it into a full report about all the great work you did, what you learned and why you should be hired full-time. Also, keep any news clips you helped place, reports you helped draft, press releases you wrote, etc.
If your organization is not at a position financially where it can hire you on full-time, you've just created a stellar portfolio you can present to other organizations.
For those of you who get entry-level jobs in May, do this same thing and present it when it's time for your annual review. Your superiors will be impressed!
Do I Really Need Experience?
The short answer is yes, you do. Hiring managers look for real-world experience on your resume - not that you worked as a manager at Victoria's Secret for the last 4 years.
That being said, all is not lost if you're graduating in May and don't have any experience. (If your graduation date is in December 2007 or later, pay attention so you can get a leg up on other people in your class!) There are several options:
- You can apply for summer internships. While most of the larger firms have already stopped accepting applications, there are plenty of great small agencies and other types of organizations that are still hiring. See my post about Indeed.com for finding these opportunities. If you do a great job at this internship, the organization will likely hire you or at the very least recommend you for an entry-level position somewhere else.
- You can volunteer to do PR work for free at a local organization or nonprofit. I did this at my local hhumane society during my final semester because I didn't have enough time to devote to a regular internship.
Your goal at the end of all this is to not include your management position at Victoria's Secret on your resume. As someone who made hiring decisions and reviewed resumes at my previous job, I can tell you that will send your resume immediately into the trash. Ask around, volunteer and apply for a summer internship. This might seem like your first real job out of college is that much further away, but I guarantee you will like the opportunities that open up for you after a few months of experience.
I would love to review your resume for you, so contact me off blog to have this done!
Searching for Positions in Far-Away Cities
Don't limit yourself to your hometown when it comes to searching for internships and entry-level jobs. It's often more important to go where the money is, so to speak, rather than staying in your comfort zone.
Some tips for making connections in new cities:
- To find smaller firms, go to local chambers of commerce Web sites. If these firms do not have open positions posted on their sites, contact the Principal/CEO. They will be impressed that you decided to be proactive and reach out to them. Don't forget to attach your resume!
- The larger firms tend to be in larger cities. So, if it has always been your dream to work at a firm in New York City, there are plenty of firms from which to choose! You can usually go to each firm's Web site individually, as they will most likely have internship and job postings. If not, contact the appropriate HR contact.
- If you are looking for any of the above or to work at a nonprofit or corporate company, your best bet is Indeed.com. I find that typing in "public relations" (and you should use the quotation marks or you will get any job with the words public or relations) along with the city yields fantastic results. For those of you who want to work in the nonprofit sector, yes, this site also pulls from Idealist.org, so you don't have to monitor both sites. The best part is, you can also set up e-mail alerts so you don't have to even monitor Indeed.com!
- Also for those looking for all types of PR jobs and internships, check with the local PRSA and IABC organizations for job postings. Sometimes they are free for everyone to view.
- If you are in DC and looking for a Hill job, I've found the best resource is K Street Jobs.
- Be prepared to make a trip to your city of interest. Arrange informational interviews, if nothing else. When I was moving from the Midwest to Washington, DC, I arranged 6 interviews in 2 days and went out during Spring Break of my senior year. Granted, Spring Break has probably come and gone for most of you, but this is still a good plan if you've just recently graduated or will be out of school soon. You have to be willing to come out at some point - no employer is going to want to hire someone sight unseen.
Does anyone else have advice on this issue?
Does Size Matter?
Everyone has an opinion about which is better - working for a large or small PR firm. I would love to hear everyone's opinions, and here are mine.
It really depends on your personality and career goals. I worked at a small ("boutique" is the term they are using these days) agency for two years and just recently moved to Burson-Marsteller
, one of the largest agencies in the world. The move has been hard for me so far, but not for reasons you'd typically think. Things have been very slow to ramp up, and while I realize this is certainly not always the case with you make such a move, it has been in my casse. At my first day at the boutique firm, I had three client meetings, several press releases to write and a new business proposal that needed drafting.
At smaller agencies, you are a vital member of the team and are intimately aware of all (or nearly all) client projects taking place. My (mind you, very limited thus far) experience at a larger agency is that you are only intimately aware of certain client projects. At any given time, there may be many projects the agency is taking on on behalf of a client, but you might only be working on one particular project.
But, unlike what I've been told, larger agencies (at least mine) still have a small agency feel. Sure, there are probably more than 100 people working here, but there are only 8 or so on my immediate team.
My final comment for now (I will have an update post in a few months about more I've learned) is that at a larger agency, you can become specialized in one area. At my small firm, I was a "jill of all trades," knowing a little about every industry you could think of and performing everything from media relations to new business to community relations to event planning. Here, I am in the issues and advocacy practice, which means I am specializing in crisis communications. And where I had 12 clients before, I only have 4 right now.
So, it really just depends on your personality - I don't think one is better than the other. For me, big agency life is proving to be better than I ever hoped and certainly a better place for me. But, that's not to knock smaller firms - there are a lot of good ones out there. Does anyone else have examples you'd like to share?
I am finally no longer considered an entry-level public relations practitioner and can now look back and reflect upon how I got where I am today. This blog will contain my advice for getting internships and your first PR job out of college. I hope it will spark conversation about tips and techniques, as well as the state of the job market. I also plan to interview key players in the public relations industry about their views of entry-level practioners and what we can all do to be successful.
I am the founder of what used to be EntryLevelPR.com. I know many people used the site while it was up and running, but I ran into health, time and money issues and could not continue the site. I want to thank all the interns for their hard work, and apologize profusely to the final set of interns I had. If there is anything I can do for you all now, please contact me. You did a wonderful job and deserve my recommendations. Better late than never, right? Again, my apologies.
I will post internship and job openings on this blog when I hear about them - and I encourage everyone to do the same. I would like this to be an open forum to exchange ideas and resources.
However, please note the following. Opposing views are welcomed. I will, however, delete your comment if you descend into personal attacks of other people's ideas or any other behavior that I deem unacceptable. Please be nice, everyone.