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

College Graduate Hire Me College Students: Its 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

resumewritingtips 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.

—–

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

15891106 job hunting concept in word tag cloud on white background 5 Things You Didnt 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

BURNING 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?

6a00d8341bf67c53ef0163024523d9970d 800wi 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?

college degree 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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Are Recruiters Looking for You On Social Media?

social media search 320x202 Are Recruiters Looking for You On Social Media?

Think only your friends are hanging out on Twitter or Facebook? Think again — especially if you’re hunting for your next job.

Employment recruiters are spending more time looking for qualified job candidates on social media, it seems. Because so many professionals are branding themselves as experts on social sites, recruiters are finding it easier to locate people with the skill set they’re looking for.

Here’s the portion of recruiters that are looking for you on social media (Inc. Magazine):

  • LinkedIn: 98%
  • Twitter: 42%
  • Facebook: 33%

Position Yourself to Be Found Through Social Media

For those of you who haven’t put any attention into making your social media profiles a beacon for recruiters to find, Vinda Rao, Marketing Manager for recruiting software company Bullhorn, offers these tips:

  1. Keep your social media profile clean. It does matter: 98% of recruiters used social media for recruiting in 2012, so make sure what they’re finding out about you online is professional and appealing.

  1. Can’t juggle several social media accounts? Focus on LinkedIn. You’ll find more recruiters on LinkedIn than any other social media network. Nearly 100% of recruiters use it, compared to their less frequent activity on Twitter and Facebook.

  1. Are you aiming big or small? Tailor your social networking use to your goal. U.S. recruiters at small companies are less likely to recruit on LinkedIn than big companies, but are more likely to use Facebook or Twitter.

  1. Have some downtime while lounging by the pool or on a long bus ride? Check job opportunities on the go: 53% of recruiters found mobile recruiting technology extremely important.

  1. Your Alma Mater may not matter as much as you think. Fewer than 4% of recruiters say that the name of the school the applicant attended would truly help differentiate her as a candidate.

  1. Depending on what field you studied, research what social network your industry focuses on. Interested in the restaurant or fashion industries, for example? Twitter is your best bet. Security and legal candidates are best suited to search for opportunities on LinkedIn, and those looking for a job in nursing should be perusing Facebook.

Let Your Beacon Shine

The point here is: social media can expand your horizons when it comes to helping you find a job. The more places you look, the faster you’ll secure the position you really want. Make sure you shine on social media, and share a variety of updates and links to show that you know your stuff:

  • Share links to your blog content and promote relevant content of others. Ask questions to get people to click
  • Engage in conversations with other industry professionals
  • Answer questions people have about your field on LinkedIn Groups and LinkedIn Answers, or hop on Quora and get involved in discussions
  • Retweet relevant content and share your own two cents
  • Share your own insight on a subject, and don’t be afraid to weigh in on topics that matter to a professional in your field.
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What Makes a Great Flexible Worker?

 What Makes a Great Flexible Worker? Wondering if you’re a good fit for a flexible work situation? It’s not for everyone. Being able to work from home requires independence and focus. If those dirty dishes easily lure you away from a morning of slogging away on your laptop, you might not make the best flexible worker, at least in your boss’ eyes.

According to business and workplace expert Alexandra Levit, who has partnered with Flexjobs to talk about flexible work, there are several traits that make for a more successful flexible employee:

  1. Self discipline: Going back to that dirty dishes example; it’s imperative that you be able to ignore all distractions while working from home. And without a micromanaging boss peering over your shoulder, you’ll have to motivate yourself to get the job done.

  2. Confidence: You can’t get the buy-in of your supervisor for every decision you make if you’re working out of your home. You’ll need to be confident in your decisions and not second guess each one.

  3. Resourcefulness: There’s a reason why recent grads don’t often find flexible work situations: it takes experience to be able to run with a task after receiving only minimal direction on it. The longer you’ve been in the workforce, the more able you will be to act resourcefully and find answers yourself.

  4. Comfortable with Self-Imposed Deadlines: If you thrive under the pressure of your boss cracking the whip over your head just before a deadline, you might not succeed if you’re working alone at home. You’ll be responsible for meeting deadlines, and there won’t be anyone yelling in your ear to get it done.

  5. Extroversion: Just because you’re out of sight in the office shouldn’t mean you become out of mind. It’s even more important, says Levit, to stay visible when you’re not in the office every day. This means you’ll have to spend time developing professional relationships and staying in contact with your team, even if it’s just for a little office news.

Can These Skills Be Learned?

If you didn’t identify with any of the traits listed above, don’t despair. You may be able to learn to create laser focus on your work, and to flourish without the watchful eye of your manager. Above all, you can develop solid communication skills that will help you succeed as a flexible worker.

“I think that the most critical trait to be a great flexible worker is to be a proactive communicator,” Sara Sutton Fell, CEO of Flexjobs, surmises, “Although I probably think it’s the most critical trait in almost any job, it’s even more so with telecommuting, freelance, or flexible schedule arrangements, because you can’t fall back on some of the traditional ways to check in with your colleagues.”

Strong communication will also be what sells your boss on the idea of you working remotely. If you want to pitch yourself as a good candidate for telecommuting, start by showing him what a fantastic communicator you can be. Every goal, process, and project you work on should be a part of a conversation. Once you show that you’re on top of it (and he can spend more time worrying about other employees), he may loosen up and let you test out a flexible work situation.

What if It’s Not Right for You?

You may prefer the structure and connection that come with working in an office, and that’s okay. Be honest about your ideal work environment, and if it doesn’t consist of working from your home or elsewhere, hang on to your cubicle!

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Do PR Pros Need to be Moneyballers?

Merge Do PR Pros Need to be Moneyballers?

This is a post by PR columnist, Alison Kenney.

The mega merger announced by Publicis and Omnicom last month is a big deal for a number of reasons.

One of the key messages that arose from the merger chatter is that Big Data itself is a Big Deal.

Entrepreneur saw the move as a way for the two firms to “be better equipped to participate in an industry that’s quickly become dominated by data analysis and automated ad buying.”

While others might argue that this mega merger isn’t the best or only way to equip oneself, no one would disagree that

“Advertisers now have the ability to deliver highly targeted ads to individuals over the Internet, using a trove of data collected about that person’s location, likes, age, gender and shopping preferences.”

And, that, therefore, has established a new paradigm of players in marketing: “All of that means the new giants in the field – and a competitive threat to Omnicom and Publicis – are those with plenty of user data: Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter and even Salesforce.com and Adobe Systems.”

Patrick Morrissey at DataSift, a big data platform for social businesses, sees the Publicis/Omnicom deal as recognition of Big Data’s importance and a harbinger of changes to come in the advertising world. He predicts that agencies will double down on social data, they will get into the software game and the analyst/engineer will become the new AE.

It seems everyone from the largest advertising firms in the world to niche independent players is trying to convince clients and shareholders that they can establish a winning business model around data and social platforms.

As Phil Johnson, CEO of PJA Advertising+Marketing said to AdAge:

“Clients want agile agencies with an entrepreneurial spirit that can move fast and respond to change in real time. Small agencies have been selling this point hard for years. On the other hand, large brands also want global agencies that can reach every corner of the world, harness the power of new digital technologies, create every imaginable form of content, ride the wave of mobile advertising and tame the black box of media-buying algorithms… To be effective, we all need to make peace with that contradiction between agility and global scale.”

What does this mean for PR firms? Do PR pros need to be moneyballers skilled in the use of sabermetrics?

Not so fast, says Todd Defren who wrote on SHIFT’s blog:

Make no mistake, this merger was about Advertising, Technology and Media Buying more so than Public Relations. Even though the workaday practice of being successful in Social Media (e.g., community management, social customer service) belongs squarely in the PR camp, the Big Money is still to be made in the Paid Media arena.  There are a great many superb PR pros in those conglomerates, but they will always play second fiddle to the paid media masters of the universe.

And, Marketo’s Jon Miller is adamant that Data needs Creative just as Creative needs Data.

What impact do you think this merger will have on the PR industry? Will Big Data play a role in PR? What would it look like if you merged a traditional PR program with data analytics?

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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Top 7 PR Grad Programs in the U.S.

masters program admissions Top 7 PR Grad Programs in the U.S.

This is a guest post by Sam Peters, a blogger who enjoys writing about career development and education.

Public Relations has seen a recent explosion of new jobs within both the private and public sector. Whether you’ve trained to be a publicist, investor relations professional or public affairs officer, more companies are now seeing the importance of PR within their company, and have thus, opened positions to thousands of communications professionals in the workforce.

Although opportunities in this field are rapidly increasing, many employers still require its potential employees to have some form of specialized training through post-graduate studies.

If you’ve often thought about going back to school to earn your Master’s in order to move up on the corporate ladder or even to qualify for a coveted position, you should definitely only consider attending one of the best programs in the nation. To better help you research graduate programs, here’s a list of the top 7 nationally-ranked programs in PR.

Ball State University

Located in Munice, Indiana, Ball State University’s undergraduate PR program is one of the most popular PR programs in the country. The past few years, the graduate program at BSU has received an increasing number of applicants that wish to further their understanding of PR through a PRSA-certified program. BSU offers both campus and online classes, making it easy to attend classes remotely.

Columbia University

Looking to expand your understanding in strategic communications? Columbia University offers a program made specifically for potential-PR executives. Located in New York, the hub for all PR in the east coast, this Master’s of Science degree program takes about 40 students per year, which makes it one of the most competitive, and highly-sought after programs in the nation. Because Columbia University is one of the most expensive private universities in the U.S., you may need to consider a combination of loans, financial aid and college credit cards from NerdWallet to pay for tuition. It’s definitely worth having a name like Columbia University on your degree.

Emerson College

Located in Boston, Massachusetts, the strategic communications program in Emerson College is considered one of the best PR colleges because of its award-winning, professional faculty. Instead of learning from PR researchers and college professors, the classes at Emerson College are taught by actual, PR executives, making one of the PR practice-oriented colleges in the U.S.

Georgetown University

One of the oldest universities in the country, Georgetown University has been known to produce industry leaders, including pioneers in the PR field. The college offers a Master’s degree in public relations and corporate relations, ideal for those who want to advance within their current position. The program emphasizes strategic thinking, leadership and the use of ethics in the profession.

John Hopkins University

If research and theory in communications is your forte, then the Master’s of Arts in Communications could be ideal for you. Located in Washington D.C., the PR program at John Hopkin’s uses research-based tools to make strategic decisions in PR in order to certify desired results, skills that could be put to great use in consumer relations and public affairs. This amazing program is accessible online and on-campus, making it easily accessible to anyone who’s admitted.

New York University

Like Emerson College, the Master’s of Science in PR and Corporate Communications program revolves around executive PR-practices. In fact, the faculty at NYU’s PR program is also made up of industry professionals. This program combines theory and practice, which makes it unique among other PR programs in the nation.

University of Southern California

The Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at USC offers professionals a Master’s Degree in Strategic Public Relations, ideal for those who want to gain intimate knowledge in specific fields of PR. The program is centered around PR trends and practices. The school also offers an international degree, where grad students can apply what they’ve learned in PR in countries like the UK, China or South Africa. Did I mention they have amazing financial aid coverage for tuition?

There’s no better investment than education. Education will never decrease in value, especially if they have the teachings of one of these amazing schools behind them. By continuing your education in public relations, you’ll learn what it means to be an industry professional.

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