There has always been wide discussion around why work experience holds more value than a degree. Finding and securing a job is more challenging than ever before, with the number of graduates increasing over the past decade.
Standing out amongst the crowd when it comes to securing a dream graduate job is not easy, and today employers are looking for a variety of talents, skills and personality traits within their candidates. Although it is undeniable that holding a degree is definitely helpful when it comes to getting a job, the 1,800 hours spent in lectures and seminars is probably not enough anymore.
Skills and knowledge are important to hiring managers and working in a professional environment taught more much more than classroom learning ever could. Building media lists, liaising with journalists and producing content for blogs, press releases and other editorial purposes in the real world is something that University can’t teach you. It allows you to use your own initiative, and in some cases, learn from your mistakes.
Being able to discuss what you have learnt outside the classroom also allows further discussion within your interview.
It goes without saying that within the PR world, building relationships and creating contacts is one of the most important things you should be doing - and the earlier you start, the better. Reaching out to businesses for work experience shows willing, and even if they can’t accommodate your request at that time, your name will stick with them and could open up opportunities to you somewhere down the line.
When I was looking to secure a new job recently, I reached out to a few colleagues I met during my work experience. They gave me some great advice, suggested agencies they knew were hiring and also told me the ones that and should probably avoid. I am now working in the same team as one of the women I worked with when carrying out one of my internships and having a friendly face on my first day made things a lot easier.
The PR world is a lot smaller than you think, and whilst building relationships is important, it is equally important not to burn bridges. You never know who you might bump into, or who might be interviewing you in a few years’ time.
Pursuing and undertaking work experience also gives you the opportunity to start building up a professional portfolio. Examples of you work from real-life situations hold much more value than a press releases you put together as part of an assignment.
Having examples and results to show from an internship also shows willing to potential employers and sets you out from the crowds and hordes of other graduates fighting for the same job as you.
Written by Chloe Deans, digital PR and outreach executive at digital marketing agency Hallam
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