Wake up call to students and graduates

4 Jun

Perhaps you need grey hairs to know just how bad it is out there (I have lots of grey hairs). What's a graduate to do in these circumstances?

One ploy is to take what's offered and stick it out for at least a year (on the 'bird in the hand' principle). Another ploy would be to spend the next year gaining a postgraduate qualification, or travelling, or working voluntarily. Anything to differentiate your CV from the many others graduating in a recession.

What should a second year student do, faced with the option of a placement year or returning earlier to complete their studies? Take the placement year option. Here's the amazing thing: I hear there are more vacancies than there are students chasing these CV-building opportunties. I don't believe it!

I also hear there are opportunties at Publicasity in London (for a summer intern and for a graduate or year placement student); just as Wolfstar in Leeds is on the lookout for new talent. These two have something in common: they're looking for students with social media expertise.

All those wasted hours on Facebook and YouTube could prove to be your big career break. Only someone with grey hairs could think 'I don't believe it!'

7 Responses to “Wake up call to students and graduates”

  1. Heather Yaxley 06/06/2009 at 8:05 pm #

    Richard – it’s true there are definitely opportunities out there for graduates and young PR practitioners at present. Social media is one important area where the “digital natives” are felt to have an edge – but an ability to come up with fresh ideas and understand younger audiences are also being sought. That’s definitely true in consultancies – many of which are gaining new business on the back of these competencies.
    In-house, I’m seeing another factor which is sadly behind the recruitment of less-experienced talent. They are seen as a cheaper option than hiring or retaining senior PR managers. I know of several experienced people who are being made redundant only for their employer to downgrade PR to part of marketing staffed by more junior practitioners, including graduates.
    Good news for the younger practitioners now – but not necessarily for the PR profession.

  2. Richard Millington 07/06/2009 at 12:48 pm #

    I had a very similar discussion with Stephen Davies in Vilnius a few weeks ago. Social media has taken us down very exciting career directions.
    There isn’t any shortage of graduate/entry level jobs available for people who can either:
    a) Use social media to promote companies.
    b) Tell others how to use social media.
    But I think the biggest opportunity is for students that don’t aim for entry levels jobs and use social media to hop over more experienced professionals into roles that might usually require a good deal more experience.

  3. Becca Caddy 07/06/2009 at 5:37 pm #

    I’d definitely recommend the postgraduate qualification to anyone who feels a little confused about which direction they should be going in.
    Although it has admittedly landed me in a lot of debt it has equipped me with the knowledge and expertise needed to get experience.
    I was lucky enough to get work experience at Wolfstar and now work there full time so it just shows that someone with little knowledge of PR and social media at the beginning of a postgraduate course can learn a lot in a year which can without a doubt lead to good things very quickly.

  4. Richard Millington 08/06/2009 at 12:47 am #

    Hi Becca, I really like you blog, but disagree fully with your comment.
    Is there anything specific you learnt in your postgraduate course you wouldn’t have been able to learn going directly into the work force? Or simply by following a few of the top blogs and blogs?
    If you’re not sure about which direction to take, surely drifting into postgraduate is the worst possible option?
    You’re taking on an awful lot of debt for something you’re not sure about. The better option is to start taking some short-term placements and figuring out what you do and don’t enjoy.

  5. Heather Yaxley 08/06/2009 at 11:11 am #

    Richard – I think it depends on the nature of your postgraduate course. The CIPR Advanced Certificate for example, is part-time and helps add some depth to applicants with a degree in something else who want to move into PR. Ideally, combining that qualification with part-time work or placement would be the best option.
    Also for some people, taking a Masters in PR/comms immediately after an undergraduate degree in something else, could mean a higher entry point into the profession on graduating. I’m not a huge fan of this approach, but I know people who’ve made it work for them and it is common in other disciplines.
    It could be particularly relevant if your Masters offers some opportunity for work experience as well as a research module where you could work on securing expert knowledge that would be valuable in consulting.

  6. Becca Caddy 09/06/2009 at 11:29 pm #

    Thanks Richard. And, I understand your point that for some diving straight into experience could certainly be a better option.
    However, I’m very happy with my decision to study PR at MA level and it certainly isnt something Ive “drifted” into.
    For me it was about gaining the knowledge of the industry, relevant theory and practical writing skills in order to give me confidence when starting my work placement.
    Again, maybe others wouldn’t need this, but I feel glad to have it and certainly draw on aspects from my course everyday now I am working full time.
    You also comment on the importance of work experience and I don’t doubt that some companies offer amazing opportunities for students. However, I know many people who have only been given the chance to use a photocopier and make coffee time and time again in every work placement. This brings me on to the specifics you asked about and surely the fact my MA taught students how to write materials for use in the industry from someone who has had a lot of experience in communications is much more valuable than never getting the opportunity to have that kind of one on one feedback in the workplace?
    And yes, my debt is bad but every graduate is in debt and as long as we’re prepared to work hard to get ourselves out of it then I dont see any problem in paying for a course that I know has given me the edge over others.I personally don’t think I could have got to the position I’m in now without the MA and the confidence, knowledge and contacts it has equipped me with.
    This seems to come back to the age old debate of whether a PR education is worth it and as long as the student is willing to get practical experience alongside study I think it is always worth it.

  7. Nathaniel Southworth-Barlow 11/06/2009 at 12:33 am #

    I find myself, based on my recent experiences, sharing Richard’s slightly sceptical view about there being ‘many more vacancies than students chasing CV-building opportunities’. I believe it is the right thing to do however. As the late Sir John Harvet-Jones might have said:
    “Getting an internship is an unnatural process; it is much more fun to be a student. And the nicest thing about not getting an internship is that the difficulties of getting a job when you graduate will come as a complete surprise rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression.”
    The process of getting an internship is an experience in itself!

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