BY SYAHIRAH SURADI
It was only recently that I was in my final semester at university, facing the daunting task of graduating and throwing myself headfirst into the corporate world.
I tried Googling for job search advice, but it was difficult to find articles tailored for graduates looking to enter the public relations industry. With that in mind, I’ve compiled some tips that I thought might be useful for aspiring PR professionals.
If you find yourself in a similar situation to the one I was in, here are 5 things you should consider when looking for your first PR job.
1. Agency or in-house communications?
Fresh graduates in the PR industry often wonder if they should start their career in-house or in an agency. Ideally, you would already have done an internship to gain relevant experience in a real-life work setting. I did so during my third year at uni, so it was easier to weed out jobs for which I thought I would not be well-suited.
The idea of working at an agency had always appealed to me as I enjoy the variety that comes from working with different clients, from different sectors and industries. This knowledge made it significantly easier to narrow down my job search and prioritise certain job applications. However, it is also important not to limit yourself, which leads me to my next point.
2. Don’t pigeonhole yourself into any one PR practice. Open yourself up to trying out new things
Hunting for an entry-level PR job may be a tad overwhelming, especially when there are so many different practices within PR. From lifestyle to technology to corporate communications, how does one even begin to choose?
During my internship, I was exposed to B2C communications, and worked with clients in the entertainment and F&B industries. I am doing something completely different now – corporate communications and investor relations across the real estate and industrial sectors. It’s a big change from what I was accustomed to doing, but therein lies the appeal. Although I had little experience in these areas, it made sense to broaden my job options and get myself out of my comfort zone. You may wish to do the same as well; you just might surprise yourself.
3. The PR job interview: Prepare, prepare, prepare
Getting a response from prospective employers is one thing. Going through the interview process itself is another. As is typical of the PR industry, you will likely need to go through a couple of rounds of interviews for any single company. I promise you that this is less daunting than it sounds!
After several unanswered job applications and unsuccessful job interviews, I managed to score a job interview at Newgate. Here’s a tip: if you’ve decided to explore a specific area of PR, start reading relevant trade publications to build up your technical knowledge. This will come in handy during the interview!
4. The perfect job does not exist
In an ideal world, every job would simultaneously tick all of the following boxes:
Healthy work-life balance: ☑
A chance to move up the corporate ladder: ☑
Huge pay cheque every month: ☑
(Note: this list is not exhaustive)
Realistically though, you need to carefully figure out what matters most to you, in order to decide which job suits you best.
If this will be your first job, it is important to define your goals and set realistic expectations for yourself. It may be a steep learning curve for those new to PR, but it is important not to sell yourself short simply because you are a fresh graduate. Even if you lack the relevant experience, a high level of tenacity and a willingness to learn goes a long way with most employers.
5. Do not settle for doing the bare minimum
If you decide to go down the agency route, you will have plenty of opportunities to get involved in a wide variety of projects. Show your colleagues that you are not content with simply being a 9-to-5 employee. You need to demonstrate your willingness to put in the work and effort needed to produce meaningful results for your clients.
The biggest take-away from my time at Newgate so far is that the PR industry is challenging, but ultimately rewarding. Stay optimistic, proactive and always enthusiastic.
I wish you the best in your job search 🙂
Syahirah joined Newgate Communications after graduating in late 2017 from Nanyang Technological University with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in English and a Minor in Communication Studies. While she is very enthusiastic about joining the PR industry, Syahirah feels like she really needs to cut down on that enthusiasm for the office pantry…