For our third student inquiry, we’re tackling a question that applies to any job or industry. Sophie Garber, a Humber Public Relations Post-Graduate Certificate student, asks: “When starting out in the PR industry, what is the best way to get my name out and land the job of my dreams?” We’ll answer it from a PR perspective, but many of the tips apply to other positions.
Our Answer: Graduating from school can be both an exciting and scary time. Start off on the right foot with these tips and let the job offers roll in!
Volunteer – Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer, and when you feel you’ve done enough, volunteer some more. If you’re into fashion PR, apply to volunteer at Fashion Week. Into film? Put some time in during TIFF. Volunteering truly is the best way for students to get practical experience in a corporate environment.
Volunteering hot-spot: volunteering at the door of events is a great way to meet media members and industry professionals face to face. At rock-it, all staff are expected to check guests in at the door, as we all enjoy greeting people as they come in. It’s often a misconception that the door is a lousy place to be. It can actually be the best place to make good connections and ensure that you see everybody who comes in.
Informational interviews – If you have your eye on a coveted internship position, set up an informational interview a couple months before applying. Professionals working at the company will be impressed by your initiative, and will likely be more than happy to talk to those who share a passion for their work. These meetings give you a foot in the door, teach you about the company and make a contact or two. Always remember to follow-up with a thank you note. Bonus points for something handwritten and snail-mailed.
Use your school’s resources – Your school’s employment office, instructors and career counsellors are great resources for internship positions, jobs and job hunting tips. When in doubt about a job opportunity or internship dilemma, ask them!
Networking – Take advantage of networking opportunities both online and in person. If you aren’t already signed up, join LinkedIn now. The professional network is an amazing tool for connecting with the right people, and finding business and job opportunities in the industry. Volunteering at events is not only a chance to gain work experience, but also a break to network. Introduce yourself to people – now’s not the time to be shy (especially if you want to work in people-oriented PR!).
Do some research – This one is said often but deserves repeating: Research the name of the hiring manager. “To whom it may concern” fails reflect genuine interest in a company. Be sure to tailor your cover letter and resume by focusing on work and volunteer experience that is relevant to the company.
Pay attention to details – SPELL CHECK. We can’t say it enough. Spell check your resume and cover letter. It’s crucially important – this industry is all about communication, so all communications, both written and spoken, should be accurate. Have a friend who’s good with writing read over your application with a critical eye. Give yourself enough time to put together an application you’re really proud of. It will show your effort and that will get you noticed.
Have a PR question you want answered? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll choose the best and answer it on our blog.