Friday, September 12, 2008

PR Advice for Students

I had a talk with my niece today about college, more specifically, what to expect after college – a career. Now, since she’s pursuing a communications degree – leaning towards advertising – I thought I’d give her a little advice. Since I’ve been there; done that.

I told her:

1. College is not just about getting a degree. It’s about weaving a network of contacts that will land you a real job after graduation. So, get involved in stuff that will look good on your resume [like internships and volunteer activities]. No future employer just wants a person who just does the basics.
2. Weigh out the cost of college. Decide if $80,000 a year is a good investment when the job you’ll realistically get will pay $100,000 a year after many, many years in the business. Decide if there is another school where you could get the same academic benefits without the major expense. Google. Google. Google.
3. Apply to all the programs for minorities like the American Advertising Agency Association Minority Fellowship program. This program is a paid summer internship program in NY or Chicago with major ad agencies (room and board are included). Major competition but major experience.
4. Make a list of 10 questions you’d like to ask a senior executive in the field of advertising. Write an intro to them – tell them who you are, how you admire their work and why you’d appreciate some advice and information from them. Email them or call them for a 15 minute “informational interview.”
5. Don’t be afraid if you don’t have a “normal” college career. Some kids finish in four it’s not a race. You are done when you’re finished. Getting off the beaten path may mean that you are going a different trail to lead others. It’s time to march to your own beat and not try to keep up with others. It’s your life – craft it and create the life you want.

After my little talk and instruction, I finally said, “If I were you….” She listened and said, “Thank you. No one has ever given me such guidance about my career. No one has really told me the real deal about relationships, contacts and how to really build a career. You are so willing to introduce me to so many contacts in the field. I’m so excited. I don’t feel so lost any more.”

I said, “Ok, sweetie, I love you, that’s what family is for.” And off I went to the new Tyler Perry movie, “The Family That Preys.” (By the way, Tyler just might be family too – regardless, we have to support our own and help others achieve their dreams. That’s what Christians do.)

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