Class is back in session, and you finally decided PR is your calling. Here are 10 tips for public relations majors that will get you the grades and the job.
1. Define your morning (or late-night) reads.
Create time in your schedule—between classes, work and homework—to read PR and marketing news and tips on sites likePR Daily, PRWeek (most articles are paid, but some are free), Social Media Explorer, and Mashable.
These are all great sources to learn about how current events affect the industry, as well as which companies to keep on your radar. If you are interested in fashion PR, make sure to add PR Couture, Women’s Wear Daily, The High Low, Fashionista and FMM to your list.
2. Get organized.
The new semester is the perfect time to develop time-management skills that will support you in your career. If you prefer a digital method, use Google Calendar to list your classes, PRSSA meetings, and coffee dates with friends. If you need to scribble down your to-dos, invest in a pretty planner that will make you want to stay organized and on schedule.
3. Be smart about social media.
Use these last days of summer to clean up your social media profiles. While friends nonchalantly post embarrassing photos and let the world know the results of five vodka cranberries, you will have a realistic yet professional profile that is appropriate for the Web.
Communicate the results of school projects, networking events, and internships. This is the perfect time to set up a LinkedIn profile, as well.
4. Take a break and #chat.
If you need a diversion from homework, join a Google+ hangout for some online networking. If you’re into fashion PR, find blogger, stylist or magazine chats to join.
Or, make use of the many relevant Twitter chats that take place each week. #PRStudChat is a great way to talk about relevant issues, demonstrate your acumen, and network with others, but there are a lot more. Check out this PR Twitter chat list from Cision.
5. Visit professors during office hours.
Take time to meet with your professors outside of class. Let them know your interest in PR goes beyond the classroom. When possible, do independent study projects that allow you to work one-on-one with a professional and explore issues, brands and strategies that light you up.
When you network with professors, they will be more likely to refer you for internships and jobs upon graduation.
6. Join PRSSA.
Your classmates will be your future connections outside the classroom. Take advantage of professional associations (they have reduced fees for students), clubs, and other associations to get access to industry leaders. The Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) and its annual conference are a must for PR majors.
Leave no stone unturned when it comes to finding PR internships. Intern a lot, and intern well. Internships can lead to jobs and major connections. Make the most of any internship, learn all you can, and get involved in any task your boss will allow.
If you don’t attend school in a place where there is a wealth of internship opportunities for PR students, pitch yourself to an agency as a virtual intern.
For inspiring intern stories, check out our Getting IN series.
8. Build media awareness.
Familiarize yourself with bloggers, editors and magazine feature writers. Nothing is more impressive in an interview than knowing the name of a journalist. Plus, the more you know about these people ahead of time, the better prepared you will be when it is time to pitch.
9. Start a blog.
Start a blog on a particular topic to perfect your writing skills, connect with other bloggers, learn blogging platforms, and build your social media following. Be realistic with your commitment to your blog, and consistent. For example, post two or three times per week. A blog is a great place for potential employers to see your writing style and interests.
10. Learn software.
Technology is your friend. To get a leg up on the competition, add some valuable programs to your resume. To learn the basics of Photoshop and Illustrator, download a free 30-day trial, buy a book, or take a class.
Get up to date on Cloud programs such as Google Docs, Dropbox and Ge.tt, and play around in MailChimp to learn how to create e-newsletters and releases. To up your social strategy, learn social-network management platforms such as HootSuite.
Danika Daly is president of Danika Daly PR. A version of this article originally appeared on PRCouture.com.