I just visited the College of Charleston Thursday and Friday, attending board meetings, delivering lectures and participating in panels. I love the C of C. It's a beautiful campus with bright, alert students.
As might be expected, most of the students said finding a good job was their number one pain point.
I shared my job search/interviewing strategies, but also heard some smart tips from fellow advisory board members I thought worth sharing, including:
- Think global. Relocate to the hot markets that have jobs, such as China. Spend a few years there gaining experience and leverage it to come back home to your ideal job.
- Demonstrate a basic knowledge of how business works. (Note: this doesn't seem to be an age-specific problem since the Council of PR Firms routinely reports the 'lack' of such knowledge is the number one criticism of agencies by their clients).
- Learn a second language. With American's rapidly-changing demographics, fluency in an Asian or Spanish language or dialect can be a huge plus.
- Master writing and, in particular, writing on deadline. PR demands multitasking and PR pros must be able to write quickly, clearly and consistently.
- Be willing to do whatever it takes. If assigned grunt work, be the best possible grunt.
That last point prompted one young lady to raise her hand. She'd just finished an internship and, frankly, didn't care for the grunt work. "When will the misery end?” she asked. “Never,” I responded. “The misery changes as one moves up the food chain, but it never goes away. It just becomes more intense.” I don't think she cared for my answer.
Another student disagreed with my advice on job interview preparation. “Do you have any idea how busy we are? We don't have the time to do all the research on a company that you suggest we do. Besides,” she said, “That's what the internships are for. You learn about the company when you get the job.” I wished her well and suggested she had a real Catch-22 situation on her hands since a company won't hire a person who hasn't demonstrated the time or energy to learn about them in advance.
The students were fully engaged in the lectures, grateful for the advice and will, I'm sure, do very well once they hit the real world. I just hope they come prepared and accept the fact that the misery never ends.