It seems like just yesterday I was in college (Go Dawgs!)…equally nervous and excited about graduating and entering the “real world.” And while it has been much longer than just yesterday (nine years ago if you must know), meeting last Thursday with a group of bright, eager college students from BYU-Idaho at the Weber Seattle office made me reminisce about starting out in the PR industry.

Every year, Weber Shandwick Seattle opens its doors to various groups of college students interested in learning about public relations. For example, BYU-Idaho, brings in 20-25 students each year to Weber to make connections and get a feel for agency life. All of us were young aspiring PR professionals at one point and can appreciate the advice and guidance we received from those individuals already in the biz.

While public relations, along with so many other industries, was largely affected by the economy, business is now ferociously trending on a steep incline—which is great news for graduating college seniors. According to the 2011 PRWeek/Bloom, Gross & Associates Salary Survey, a better business environment has created optimism in the job market and the search for talent is on.

Good stuff! But what can you do to stand out in the sea of recent college grads all looking to jumpstart their career? Here are a few tips based on my own experience as well as what we hear from our industry friends and colleagues.

  • Student Organizations: Get involved with groups on campus like PRSSA to gain exposure to the PR industry and make connections to enhance your professional network.
  • Networking Events: Attend, attend, attend! Find local PR or communications networking events in your area for the opportunity to meet with people in the industry and grow your pool of resources and advocates. You never know who might be hiring. Remember to jot notes afterward on who you met with and what was discussed after each foray and connect with them online to keep the conversation going.
  • Informational Interviews: Proactively setting up informational interviews with working professionals gives you the opportunity to learn more about a particular industry and/or company and what it takes to be successful. It’s a great way to get in front of people in the business and get your name out there.
  • Internships: What better way to get experience under your belt than actually working within the company? Most companies hiring for entry level positions are looking for candidates with some kind of industry experience. Make the most of your internships…work hard, learn, meet people, build a portfolio. Don’t forget, Weber Seattle has a great intern program!

What do you think? Any other good tips out there for aspiring PR professionals? Let us know!

And thank you to the BYU-Idaho group for taking the time to find out what Weber Shandwick is all about and coming to us with thoughtful questions. We look forward to the next college group we get to host, which is just around the corner.

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