I had the opportunity to share some thoughts on public relations with would-be PR pros at Monmouth University this past Saturday. The school was sponsoring a half-day career seminar for its 500-strong cadre of undergraduate communications majors and had invited agency and corporate types as well as non-profit and human resources pros. It was a cool event.
The theme of the day, though, seemed to be fear. Pervasive fear. More than one student admitted to being absolutely terrified of entering the job market. No wonder, what with the 24×7 negative news these students are being subjected to nowadays.
My message was simple: chill. Prepare, but chill. There are jobs to be had. But, like any smart marketer, Monmouth students need to think of themselves as brands. They need to employ research, strategy and creativity in securing employment. And, they need to remain upbeat. Even if our nation's GDP will be down five percent in 2009, the remaining 95 percent still represents the world's largest and most robust market. And, that translates to opportunity. Job opportunity.
I told the Monmouth kids to emphasize relevant work experience in their cover letters, resumes and interviews. And, if they didn't have any, I encouraged them to volunteer to write a PR plan for a local restaurant, sports team, theatre, etc. Employers assume a graduate is smart. What we need to know is if you can hit the ground running. So, if you don't have relevant work experience, use the next few months to gain some. Then, research the firm(s) for whom you'd like to work, connect their needs with your experience and, most importantly, keep a stiff upper lip.
It is most surely NOT the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine. And, soon-to-be-graduates should as well.