Class of 2012 communicators — I salute you! You chose a major in communications to find meaning in messaging, betterment in branding, opportunities in outreach — and now it’s time to get a job — to fill out forms, update your LinkedIn profile and search for communications and PR jobs.
What is your passion? People who follow their passion rarely look back with regret. Go after the positions where you’ll have an opportunity to get dirty — to get knee-deep in communications and outreach. The smaller the staff, the more experience you’ll garner. Sure, you may not be living the high-life, but you’ll be learning a great deal, and that knowledge, combined with the contacts you make, may lead you to exactly where you want to be in a short while.
Out of school, I had an amazing opportunity to work for a small college devoted to art and design. I made very little money during my tenure there, but I learned an incredible amount as the editor and writer of a 10-issue-a-year tabloid, the publicist for all events and shows, the media outreach expert and the faculty/student communication liaison. I learned about working with people, raising money and higher education.
I also volunteered with a few nonprofit organizations during that time. It’s one thing to get people to continuously work toward a common goal while they receive a paycheck and share the same employer — it’s another thing to get them to work continuously toward a common goal when they already have full-time jobs. Volunteer work taught me the importance of engaging others, event planning and leadership skills — skills that I continue to use at work and in my current time donated.
Experience is experience, whether you garner it as a volunteer at your church, synagogue, or mosque; an intern at a food pantry; or an entry-level position at a PR firm. There are plenty of charities and nonprofits working to change the world that could use a little free help. The need is great, and the communicators are few.
So congratulations graduates, you stand at the edge of opportunity. Take the leap toward your passion and follow it not just for your work hours, but your after-work hours too. You’ll be glad you did.
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