Most students of my age are painfully aware that a degree is no longer enough to qualify for a job in public relations. As a result, many students are taking up strings of internships between university terms to up their experience levels. Choosing a degree course with a year’s placement was something I was set on, and two months into my placement year, I know it was the right decision. This has been reinforced by a recent study by High Fliers Research that found graduates with work experience triple their chances of landing a job compared to those without it.
As with most vocations, the academic and theoretical study of PR is a far cry from actually putting it in to practice, and the skill set required varies greatly. While my first two years at university have seen me learn Grunig and Hunt’s Four Models of Communication – almost by heart – it wasn’t until I began working at Whiteoaks that I actually grasped the notion of B2B PR.
The workplace teaches you things you cannot learn in a lecture hall – primarily how to interact with journalists and clients. PR is one of those careers where people skills are all important and it is only when you get stuck into projects and campaigns that you start to pick up these valuable skills.
However, that is not to dismiss the importance of theory. My two years at university have served as invaluable preparation for the working world, and opened the doors to a career which, otherwise, I’d have known very little about.
Ultimately, the value of work experience vs. study for me is completely intertwined and I look forward to returning to university with a wealth of experience which will add a new level of depth to my final year of study.