Lindsay Olson

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Consider Working Holidays to Gain New Experiences

 

This is a guest post by Matt Milstead.

Many people choose to spend their vacations relaxing somewhere on a beach or by the pool at their spa/hotel. Instead of going for the cliched holiday, perhaps it would be a good idea to experience a working holiday in a new country.

The idea of working through the holidays may not sound appealing, but working in a different country can often be the experience of a lifetime. Many individuals travel to places such as Australia and New Zealand to work during the holidays. Getting a visa for these job opportunities is very easy, and the experience can often be life changing.

Skilled Workers Needed

Areas such as Australia have a shortage of skilled workers, which is why medical recruitment is always taking place overseas. They are more than happy for people to travel from other parts of the world and spend a few weeks or months working in major cities. Areas such as Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne all offer many vacancies when it comes to temporary hospital jobs, as well as jobs in other industries requiring skilled workers.

Great Pay

You would be surprised by how well paid employees are in countries such as Australia and New Zealand. Many people have spoken about how they earned more in one week in Australia than they would make in a month in the United States. That is a serious opportunity to make money, and one that should not be passed up. Their minimum wage is double that of the United States, and most skilled workers make two or three times that minimum amount.

Experience New Places and New People

Going back for another week of your usual, mundane job would not appeal to anyone. However, travelling around the world and temporarily living in another city sounds a lot more exciting. While you are working in the location of your choice, you would have plenty of time to explore different cities, check out tourist spots, and get a feel for a completely different culture.

In addition, the people you work with will provide further fresh experiences. You could make new friends, hang out with different personalities, and get a completely different take on life from the one you are used to. There are many advantages to taking a holiday work experience in a new country, but experiencing a new culture has to be right up there.

Work/Life Balance

The balance between working and having time off is outstanding in most jobs you will get in Australia or New Zealand. You will work from 9 to 5, but you will have the rest of the day off to enjoy yourself. In addition, your weekends will be entirely free for exploration and relaxing experiences.

If you want to experience something different in your life, it may be time to get a holiday job in a new country. Instead of doing the same things you have been doing for the past 20 years, this experience will give you a chance to be different. You can also witness first hand why so many people love living in Australia and New Zealand.

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How I Got My Job: 4 Real World Stories from Successful PR Pros

When it comes to getting hired in public relations, mainstream job hunting efforts sometimes will not do. These stories, coming from PR professionals at all stages of their careers, highlight some of the innovative ways people have gotten the attention of their future employers, and provide insight to help you score your next job.

Working on the Other Side of the Fence

Susan Coulby, Media Relations Manager at Camden County College in New Jersey, found her way into media relations by starting out in journalism. She majored in journalism and then worked as a general assignment reporter and editor at a daily newspaper. From there, she already understood what she needed to know to be successful in PR.

“My background has served me extremely well because it made me learn how to write like the journalists to whom I’m pitching and gave me understanding of the newsroom/deadline experience. This, in turn, gives me a level of credibility with the media that is unavailable to those without my background: I speak their language AND I get where they’re coming from in terms of challenges to do their job.”

Coulby, who has worked as the Media Relations Manager at her community college for 14 years, encourages those interested in PR to serve on the communications committee of Junior League to get real-world experience promoting an organization.

“I would give the same advice to anyone trying to break into the field that was involved with a nonprofit: do volunteer work helping out with communications and learn the ropes for real-world experience,” Coulby says.

Being Open to Opportunity in Unusual Places

Sharon Rosenblatt, who works in IT Accessibility Services and Document Remediation at Accessibility Partners, LLC, never thought she’d end up with a job when she took on part-time work as a personal trainer. As she helped a woman named Dana get in shape, she lamented her lackluster results of finding a full-time PR job.

Rosenblatt’s client offered to review her resume and help beef up her professional writing portfolio by assigning her press releases for the company Rosenblatt’s client ran. Rosenblatt wrote a couple of award nominations and pitched some articles — not for money, but for experience.

“Needless to say, I wowed them and began volunteering my time to improve her company’s PR with her over the summer, “ Rosenblatt recalls, “I gained more responsibilities and as the exercise portion of my employment waned, my business writing portfolio grew. In the fall of 2010, they made me a full-time offer. I’ve been with the company now for over three years!”

She says the best career advice she’s been given came from her mother: carve a niche out for yourself, and make yourself indispensable in whatever role you’re in.

Networking for the Big Picture

Everyone knows that networking is key to scoring a great job, but many job seekers don’t realize how long it can take to reap the benefits.

When Charles B. Henderson, who now serves as National Director of Communications for the Society of St. Vincent De Paul, was between engagements and looking for a full-time job, he met a gentleman who had served as the national president of Henderson’s current employer through a volunteer fair. This man also happened to be a member of Henderson’s church.

The meeting may have been uneventful at the time, but years later, Henderson opted to attend his church’s earlier service, where a representative from a nonprofit organization would speak about getting involved with the group. Guess who the speaker was? Yes: the man he’d met at lunch years before.

After the service, Henderson sought out the speaker, set up a networking meeting later in the week, and was rewarded when his contact put in a good word for him for an open position.

Henderson says the key to his success was smart networking: “Keep a log of the people you talk to. Don’t just get names and contact information of the people to whom they re-direct you. Ask them to make a personal introduction for you, either by phone or email.”

Henderson also offers advice to break into PR:

“If you want a job in PR, learn to write and think like a journalist.  That means you have to know correct grammar, spelling and punctuation.  That would seem self-evident if you’re seeking a job in public relations, but writing skills in this nation are deteriorating and some of the most egregious examples I’m seeing are from PR and journalism students.”

Using Social to Your Advantage

All networking doesn’t have to be done offline. Logan Stewart got her job as Community Manager & Public Relations for OrthoCarolina through Twitter, where she met her current boss.

Both had marketing roles for large organizations in Charlotte, North Carolina, and each knew who the other was on Twitter.

“For quite a long time, we’d just exchange conversational, often humorous tweets – we talked about sports teams, work, local news, whatever the topic of the day was. After getting to know each other on Twitter, we eventually met for coffee several times and discussed social media strategy for our individual companies as well as potential ways that our organizations could partner. Our personalities fit well together because we’re both extremely social and knew a lot of people in the community, and were willing to share those relationships to benefit each other.”

At the time, Stewart wasn’t looking for another job, but when her contact created a new position that was a hybrid of public and media relations with a new community manager-type role, Stewart was at the top of the list, and is now happily managing PR for the company.

Stewart says that networking, offline and on, is invaluable in the job hunt: “Twitter is a goldmine and a valuable resource when it comes to networking. Follow those in your industry in the city you want to work. Reply to their posts regularly without being overbearing. Be funny, be engaging and be relevant. Eventually people will notice you.”


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10 Things You Do or Say That Undermine You at Work

You’re trying to do whatever it takes to be promoted or get a raise. But have you taken a look at your speech and communication style? They very well may be keeping you from excelling at work. If any of these describe you, it’s time to nip the behavior in the bud.

1. Uptalking. When you make a statement? If it sounds like a sentence? People don’t take you seriously. Whatever comes out of your mouth should sound confident and leave no question that you know what you’re talking about.

2. Speaking Arrogantly. There’s a fine line between being confident and being arrogant. If your comments come off as arrogant, they’ll drive people away. If you sound confident, people will respect you. Pay attention to people’s behavior and decide which vibes you’re giving off.

3. Apologizing. If you’re constantly saying “sorry” when you walk in someone’s office or interject in a conversation, you belittle yourself. It seems like you think you don’t have the right to be there or to share your opinion. That’s no way to show off your stuff!

4. Putting Yourself Down. If you’re in the habit of saying things like “You’re so much smarter than me,” or “Duh! That was stupid of me,” co-workers — and your boss — will believe you don’t think much of yourself. And if you don’t believe in yourself, how can you expect others to?

5. Talking Too Fast. Sometimes this stems out of nervousness, but if you talktoofastforanyonetounderstand, people will stop listening. If you want your ideas to be taken seriously, take a deep breath and go slowly.

6. Gossiping. Talking behind your co-worker’s back is no way to win over friends in the workplace. Find other ways to get people to like you, like complimenting them.

7. Interrupting. No one likes being cut off mid-sentence. Even if you’re eager to share your thoughts on the topic at hand, hold back. Otherwise, you seem impatient, and as if you don’t value the thoughts of those you’re conversing with.

8. Dominating Every Conversation. If you’re like Hermione from Harry Potter and are the first person to speak in a meeting, watch yourself. It’s one thing to be eager to participate in the conversation; it’s another to want to have the spotlight all on you. Remember you’re part of a team, so try to bring in your co-workers to the conversation.

9. Not Listening. If you’re not really paying attention to what your co-workers have to say, they’ll feel it. Be fully in the moment whenever anyone is speaking to you. Pause, then respond when appropriate. Try repeating in your own words what you just heard to reassure the listener you actually understood what she said.

10. Not Acting like Yourself. Men and women communicate differently and just because you work in a mainly male or mainly female environment doesn’t mean you should change your communication style. Acting like someone you’re not is obvious and comes off badly. You’ll get a lot more respect from your colleagues by being aware of the communication styles and sticking with your own.

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6 Lessons to Learn from a Bad Boss

We’ve all had them or heard of them: The boss who only cares about himself, the boss who is never pleased, the boss who yells constantly, the boss who takes credit for everyone else’s work, the boss who just stresses his whole team out.

You could, of course, quit your job, but there’s no guarantee that your next boss won’t be just as “difficult”. Better to try to benefit from these lessons a bad boss can teach you.

1. There are All Kinds of Bosses

While certainly, you’d prefer to have the kind of boss you want to drink margaritas with after work, this isn’t always going to be your reality. Having a bad boss can teach you that there are many types of managers — and people, for that matter. Knowing how to please, say, a chronically grumpy boss, can help you any time you encounter a person (at work or otherwise) who is hard to please.

2. Smart People Don’t Always Make Good Managers

Just because someone has spent decades in a field doesn’t make that person necessarily adept at managing other people and leading by example. In other words, for some people, experience doesn’t always translate into good management skills.

3. You Could Do His Job

Whether your boss is a rock star or a troll, you can learn a lot by observing. You can see what skills being a manager at your company requires (even if your boss is sorely lacking them), and you can chart your own plan to climb the ladder and become a manager yourself one day.

4. Bad Bosses are People Too

While you’d love to throw darts at a photo of your boss, you have to admit: he’s human. He also has many other pressures on the job that you don’t need to deal with daily. Sometimes it’s good to recognize that and give him a break.

5. You Know What Not to Do

If you’re taking notes about how to be a good manager, your boss is providing an entire list of what not to do. Ask yourself how you would handle a given situation better, and store that information away for future use.

6. You Don’t Have to Take a Bad Boss Home

While nearly all of us are guilty of taking home our work day with us and complaining to friends or family, you don’t have to. You only have to deal with your bad boss for 8 or so hours a day. Don’t let him consume additional space in your brain.

You can’t always get out of a job with a sub-par manager, but if you turn the experience around into a life lesson, you’ll take away nuggets that will make you a better employee.

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College Students: It’s Never Too Early to Make Yourself More Hireable

If graduation looms in the relatively near future, you’re probably already thinking about that amazing job you plan to score when you’re done with college.

In case you haven’t heard, the job market is pretty competitive right now. You’ll be at a disadvantage almost immediately simply because you’re a recent grad with little work experience. Fortunately, there are things you can do right now to make yourself more hireable later.

1. Intern

Internships are one of the best ways to gain industry experience, meet the right people, and make a favorable impression at a company that could end up hiring you full time. Check with both your career center and degree program department to see if there are any local businesses who need someone to help out.

2. Volunteer

Don’t limit yourself to just interning. Volunteering or getting involved in community service can also help you bone up on skills you can then add to your resume. If you plan to work in PR, offer your services to a nonprofit that can use your press release writing and pitching skills. Be eager to help out, as the more you do, the more you learn.

3. Work at the Right Company

We’ve all heard the tales of the guy who rises up from being the mailroom delivery boy to an executive position at a company. It’s an extreme example, but there’s truth in it. I started my career in recruiting by accident. I had no idea what a recruiter did before I landed a job as a receptionist at a staffing agency.  A year later I was working my own recruiting specialty in the firm and became a top producer in the company. I worked my way through college while recruiting and 15 years (ugh, 16) later I’m still at it. Even if you take on a part-time job in administration or in the warehouse at a company you’d like to work at after graduation, you can show your enthusiasm for the company, your willingness to learn, and network with people who can help the company.

4. Participate in College Organizations

In addition to providing you with the opportunity to make new friends, you can dive into an industry by joining industry organizations through your school like PRSSA. If the group regularly invites industry experts to speak, this is your chance to network with people who are out working in the field you want to work in.

5. Meet Alumni

At many universities, the alumni network is strong. Past graduates may attend events at the college, post job listings, or serve as mentors for students like you. Find these alumni and take advantage of them. Having a mentor who’s followed the path you want to take can provide you with shortcuts to success.

6. Network

You don’t have to be a professional to attend local networking meetings. Find a group or two that caters to professionals in your field, and start attending. Introduce yourself as a college student and let people know you’re looking for advice on breaking into the field once you graduate. You can build relationships that will carry you into your first job.

7. Build a LinkedIn Profile

Even if you’re not ready to start working full time, you should still have a LinkedIn profile. Include your volunteer and internship experience, as well as any other relevant work history you have. Update it as you add new skills.

8. Take on Research Projects

If the head of your department is looking for assistance in a research project, sign up. The more you actively participate in academic pursuits, the more ingrained in your industry you’ll be, even before graduating. Getting a glowing recommendation from the department chair can’t hurt, either!

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5 Questions You Should Ask Before Hiring a Resume Writer

Sometimes it’s difficult for you to view your resume with an unbiased eye. You can’t see what should stand out, and you might not know what hiring managers are looking for. If that’s the case, consider working with a resume writer.

Professional resume writers know what skills to feature on your resume to get the attention of a hiring manager. They may be able to pick up on points you didn’t even notice, simply because it’s your own resume.

But before you shell out a pretty penny for a professional resume, make sure to ask these questions to ensure you’ve got the right writer for the job.

1. Can you show me examples of your work?

Any resume writer with experience should be able to provide several examples of past work. Better yet to ask for examples not found on her website.

2. Do you have experience writing resumes in my industry?

This isn’t always a necessity for all industries, but PR and Marketing professionals have their own industry lingo and certain skill sets that are important to highlight on a resume. It might be worth paying more for a resume by working with someone who has the relevant industry experience and knows what employers in your industry will want to see and can use the industry keywords appropriately.

3. What are the three biggest issues you see with my resume?

A good resume writer should be able to immediately see areas that could stand to be improved and have a few good suggestions. This question also implies you are speaking with the resume writer. Do yourself a favor and actually speak with the person who will write your resume.

4. Can you also rewrite my LinkedIn profile?

This may or may not be part of her overall service, but since she’s already knee-deep in your work experience, it would make sense to have a look at your LinkedIn profile. Having a LinkedIn profile that accurately portrays who you are professionally may help you more than your resume, since many recruiters are looking for solid job candidates there.

5. How much do you charge?

It’s likely a flat fee depending on your level. Always clear this upfront.  Be sure to be clear about how many revisions are included and extra fees whether it be future edits or formatting changes.

Is Hiring a Resume Writer Right for You?

Before you hire a writer, consider whether it’s necessary. Some people feel like you should create your own resume, because it’s such a personal document.

On the other hand, if you haven’t gotten the positive response you think you should be getting from recruiters and hiring managers, based on your job experience, it might be time to bring in a professional who can clear the clutter from your resume and shine the spotlight on the skills that position you as the ideal candidate.

Just make sure to avoid resume mills that churn out nearly identical resumes for multiple clients (you’ll know them because they charge a shockingly low fee, and you won’t be very impressed with the results). Find a writer who can make you stand out against the competition.

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P.S. I do not write resumes. While I will happily give some advice to candidates I’m actively working with on a search, recruiters are not resume writers. Resume writing is a career – and it is a time intensive process that a recruiter just doesn’t have the bandwidth to take on in addition to filling client searches.

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5 Things You Didn’t Think You Needed to Get a Job

When you’re looking for a job, there are the obvious components you know you need, like a strong resume and cover letter. But there are other secret weapons that can increase your odds of being considered for a position, as well as help you stay organized through the job search process.

1. Headshot

In the United States most career experts will say your resume is no place for your headshot. Your social media profiles though will look empty without it.  A nice, professional headshot can help you better connect with hiring managers and should be used on social media sites, especially LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.

And remember: even if you don’t plan on showing a hiring manager your Facebook profile, there’s still a good chance she’ll find it when Googling you. Hiring managers are turning to social media profiles to learn more about job candidates, so many sure what you are showing the world is okay for a hiring manager to see.

If you can’t afford to hire a professional photographer for your headshot, find a friend to help, choose a neutral background, and take a few so you have some to choose from.

2. Mobile Applications

Many of the job boards these days offer mobile apps so you can track your applications and see where you’ve applied while you’re on the go. CareerBuilder’s mobile app lets you apply for jobs with two taps of a finger, or save jobs to view later. Monster’s app notifies you when new jobs are posted, and also provides interview tips.

3. Professional Email

You may want to consider setting up a different email for your job search activity. While it’s certainly convenient to get correspondence at your personal email address, you may not want to be inundated with those PR job alerts and other automatic emails that most people don’t get around to turning off after your job search. And if you’ve been using a quirky personal email address for years and you don’t want to part with it, hiring managers might not understand the humor in your email address.

4. Job Search Organization Tool

Applying for positions on multiple job boards is enough to make your eyes cross. And since sometimes employers post the same job on several boards, you want to make sure you’re not wasting time reapplying for the same job. Additionally, you’ll be sending your resume to your contacts and directly to companies website or the hiring managers directly.

Find a tool like Jibber Jobber that lets you manage and track jobs you’ve applied for, as well as update your contacts and details on companies you’re interested in working for.

It’s important to track where you’ve applied so you don’t reapply for the same job over and over and if you are approached or working with a recruiter, you’ll need to be able to let them know if you have ever applied to a position at their client and when.

If you don’t have the money to pay for a solution like this, a simple spreadsheet will suffice.

5. Bio

Having a prewritten biography comes in handy when you’re setting up your social media profiles or job board accounts. It doesn’t need to be too detailed: a few paragraphs should suffice. Make sure to highlight your areas of expertise, positions you’ve held, and education.

While these are all small details, they’re ones that stand out. Take the time to focus on these components, and you’ll see more positive results in your job search.

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How to Burn Bridges and Hurt Your Career

When you’re unhappy in a job, it may be difficult to imagine you’d ever want to interact with the people you work with again. And yet, if you don’t handle professional relationships appropriately, you end up burning bridges and making it harder to be hired by another employer.

Here are the biggest no-nos employees make that can drastically affect their careers.

1. Quit Without Notice

It can be tempting to storm out of the office, never to return, but you don’t do yourself any favors this way. You put your coworkers in a bind because they’ll have to handle your work themselves without any transition period, and you certainly don’t leave your former boss with a good impression. And said boss will be more likely to give a recommendation for you if you provide her, even if the job wasn’t right for you, with the appropriate amount of time to hire your replacement.

Even if you don’t use your former boss as a reference, it doesn’t mean you might not be checked up on. The PR industry is tight-knit and it’s likely there is some connection at the next company where you are applying for a public relations job. It’s not uncommon for hiring managers to engage in “back door reference checks” without your knowledge.

2. Don’t Show Up for an Interview

Here’s an example from my own experience: after setting up an interview and preparing for a job candidate last year, she didn’t show up for the interview or have the courtesy to call with an explanation. She wouldn’t even answer the phone or return an email after multiple attempts. A year later, out of the blue, she reaches out through social media, emails and calls, conveniently not mentioning her unexplained disappearance and now wanting help to find her next position.

I understand things happen and sometimes people have a change of heart mid-process. Not wanting to work with this person isn’t grudge-holding, it’s an expectation of basic professional courtesy. That strike will keep me from presenting her to clients for future searches through our PR Staffing Firm.

If something comes up and you’re unable to make an interview, call the hiring manager or recruiter and apologize with an explanation. It might not be possible to reschedule, and perhaps you don’t even want to, but you’ll open the door to being able to work with these people in the future.

3. Lie on Your Resume

It’s understandable: if you lack expertise in an area that you need to get a job, you’re desperate to find a way to still qualify. But never lie on your resume. It’s surprising that 46% of resumes include all sorts of lies. Keep it honest, even if you’re lacking in skills. It’s easier to gain new skills than wipe away the shame of lying on your resume. Those lies will quickly reveal themselves when put to the test.

4. Behave Inappropriately Around Coworkers

Whether you share a bit too much over drinks with your colleagues after work or are a known office gossip, removing that boundary of professionalism can get you in trouble, and can alienate you from others. Even if you think you’ve made great friends at work, keep it tame and don’t divulge anything that could jeopardize your position or question your ability to maintain professional limits.

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When Did Desk Jobs Become So Dangerous?

This is a guest post by PR columnist, Alison Kenney.

It used to be the biggest workplace health risk us office workers faced was ergonomic injury, such as carpal tunnel syndrome. HR sent experts to talk to us about the correct chair height and the right hand position for typing, and we tried out special chairs, including the kneeling chair, or sat on inflated balls.

But like everything in life, workplace danger has amped up and PR pros who work at a computer (which would seem to be all of us; heck, 70 percent of us regularly eat lunch at our desk) are now prime candidates for “Sitting Disease.”

It’s very serious. According to a study by the American Cancer Society, men who sit for six hours or more daily have an overall death rate 20 percent higher than men who sit for three hours or less per day, i.e. they are 20 percent more likely to die of any cause than more active men.

In her U.S. News & World Report article, Lindsay Olson describes the effects of sitting disease.

…“Prolonged sitting increases the risk of cancer, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and even death. Here are other shocking statistics:

  • People who sit for more than 11 hours a day have a 40 percent increased risk of death in the next three years, compared with people who sit for four hours or less.
  • Workers who have held sedentary roles for more than 10 years have twice the risk of colon cancer.
  • The longer people sit, the shorter their lifespan, even if they exercise regularly.
  • Sitting for long periods may also affect the development of musculoskeletal disorders.”

Olson recommends that PR pros become more active. Although she says there’s a caveat: “even if you consider yourself active now (meaning you spend 30 minutes or more a day engaging in physical exercise), you’re still considered high risk if you spend eight to 10 hours a day sitting.”

Her advice:

“If possible, aim for more exercise, especially on the days you’re sitting for work. Walking, hiking, biking and swimming are all excellent forms of exercise that counter the effects of sitting.

Also, look into standing and walking more at work and at home. Rather than call or IM a co-worker, walk over to her office. Park farther away in the parking lot so that you have another opportunity to walk. Invest in a FitBit or other pedometer device and aim for 10,000 steps a day. Stand up while watching TV, or at least during commercial breaks. Build activity into your day, even if it’s in five-minute bursts.”

Other options include getting a treadmill desk. Susan Orlean wrote this piece for the New Yorker about her experience with a treadmill desk and the compulsive step count-checking she does with her Fitbit (may need to subscribe to read the entire article).

Of course, there are times when all you’ve got is a chair. If you want to make the best of your situation and ensure you’re practicing the proper posture, perhaps you’re a candidate for the LUMOback, a belt-like device that vibrates if your posture slumps.

Alison Kenney an independent PR practitioner with more than 15 years of PR consulting experience. She is based on Boston’s North Shore and has worked with organizations in the technology, professional services and consumer industries. She writes a bi-monthly PR column on LindsayOlson.com. You can find her at www.kprcommunications.comLearn more about Alison Kenney.

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What’s the Best College Major for a Career in PR?

This is a guest post by PR columnist, Alison Kenney.

Back-to-school season is in full swing and President Obama has finished up his tour to promote reforming the cost of college. Among other things, he is proposing a new college ranking system that includes schools’ track record in finding graduates jobs. Which got me wondering about how many of my colleagues in planned to work in PR while they were still university students? How many PR pros selected their major because they thought it would be the best choice for a career in PR?

Is it best to get a degree in PR (if it’s offered)? Yes, argues Staci Harvatin in her PR Daily article. She makes the case based on the availability of PR programs today that have strong curriculum and offer solid foundations to prepare you to handle everything a PR job in the real world can throw at you.

For me, PR evolved as a career choice – there were no PR or communication courses at my alma mater (I guess I’m one of the “veterans” that Staci Harvatin refers to); it was after a couple of PR internships that I actively pursued it as a career.

Like me, many PR pros are English majors. It has typically been deemed a good major for PR. The emphasis on writing and clear communication is critical in public relations and having a broad, liberal arts education can help in strategic and creative PR program planning. As, this Princeton Review entry explains,

“Though some colleges offer a degree in public relations, most industry professionals agree it’s unnecessary. Since public relations requires familiarity with a wide variety of topics, a broad education is the best preparation. Any major that teaches you how to read and write intelligently will lay good foundation for a career in public relations. Or, as one PR person put it “if you can write a thesis on Dante, you should be able to write a press release.” Internships are a common way to get some practical experience and break into the field.”

But times are changing, and this NY Times opinion piece explains that that reverence for an education grounded in the humanities is declining, as its most obvious manifestation: the ability to write well. The media has been reporting on the decline in liberal arts educations, which can be expensive and are becoming viewed as a luxury that’s not viable. The New Yorker tries to put an end to the discussion by addressing each argument for and against majoring in English, and settling finally on “just because” as the answer.

What about other routes to a career in PR? Lots of PR pros got to their position after studying other aspects of marketing and business management. Others switch over to PR after a more technical role in a particular industry, e.g. practicing healthcare PR after working as a nurse. The HR director at my former agency used to say that he prefers to hire account coordinators who’ve worked as waiters, because they adapt easily to the service business aspect of PR.

What was your college major? How has it affected your career in PR?

Alison Kenney an independent PR practitioner with more than 15 years of PR consulting experience. She is based on Boston’s North Shore and has worked with organizations in the technology, professional services and consumer industries. She writes a bi-monthly PR column on LindsayOlson.com. You can find her at www.kprcommunications.com. Learn more about Alison Kenney.

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