Tips for communication students and graduates

Fri, May 06 2016

Even if you are in your latest years of university or you recently graduated, it’s time to start thinking about what the in-house communication departments and consultancies look for in their candidates and build your professional profile. You might think having a good-looking resume is enough but, thanks to social media, brand managers are looking deeper nowadays.

With the financial crisis that has been concerning many of the world’s largest countries, we have been witness to waves of immigrants moving to other countries looking for better work opportunities. Australia has become one of those countries receiving students and professionals that believe they might have a bigger shot to succeed here; where there are big companies offering ample opportunities in different fields. This is especially important for communication students and graduates because they see Australia as an emerging power that grows fast and has a huge market to develop great communication techniques.

So what does this mean? There are more competitors. And not only because of the people that come from overseas, also because of the native talent. People are aware of this situation, and it’s not a negative thing, quite the opposite; it pushes new communicators to be better, to prove themselves and to show what they have to offer to the industry. People now have better training; they have a Bachelor Degree at university, some of them have even two careers; they know more languages; they have done their masters or have a specialisation; they have traveled and they have seen what’s out there, which means they have a more open minded; they seek and they are hungry for knowledge, experience and success.

That’s why students and recent graduates need to be well prepared to get out in the professional world, to compete with other qualified young professionals for the same job positions. Here are some tips that can be helpful to start with:

 

  • You never have enough experience: while in your years of college you can start doing internships and other non-experience required jobs that can be added to your resume.  Even if they are in the field you want to focus on or it’s a different job that you may not find that fascinating, all experience is good. They teach you how to work in a team, face real problems and react to conflicts with professionalism, how to use different tools (computer programs, administration procedures, etc.) and if you work hard it will open up more doors thanks to reference letters from your supervisor and tips and advice from other co-workers. It’s also important to do some volunteer work at least once during these early years of your career, because recruitment officers will consider you a committed person and helpful for the community. It can make you stand out from other applicants, and it will be helpful for developing new skills. As I said, you never have enough experience.

 

  • Be creative: be ingenious, be innovative, be active, think out of the box. Specially in the communication field (advertising, PR, media, etc.) people try to stand out from the ordinary, offering the brand managers something different; this can go from an original CV format to blog content you have developed. It’s also important to keep proofs or work you have done during your college years or in any other jobs that may be relevant, like reviews, articles, videos, campaigns, assignments that prove your knowledge; any data that shows you have proper skills that adds to the brand/company that you want to work for.

 

  • Learning is a constant process: even when you finish college and even after you complete your master’s degree, the learning process is something that should never end. Principally in communication which is a field in on-going evolution, it takes on changes all the time and we need to keep ourselves constantly updated and in the loop. Nowadays this is not a difficult matter to accomplish thanks, once again, to the Internet. There are unlimited resources, training material, webinars and online courses that have become a really flexible way to keep learning about your field or even extend your knowledge to new practices and sciences.

 

  • Social media: new platforms can be really helpful as well as damaging for your profile. We can make good use of the social media to connect with other professionals, to grow our network, to expand our interests and see what other peoples’ opinions are miles away from you; but also we’ve been using this platforms in a bad way, posting inappropriate comments, photos and videos without thinking that these materials will stay on the Internet forever. It’s time now for you to start cleaning your social media accounts and be aware that companies look into these profiles when they search for new candidates.

 

  • Develop your own network: this should be made both in person and online, and not only when you finish your studies but also during your college years; you never know where you are going to find someone who will help you get your dream job or even your future business partner. So yes, getting the required skills and experience is essential, but knowing the right people is important as well. To help you build your network there are different associations that organize conferences, meet & greets and other events where professionals or even recent graduates/students have a big opportunity to chat, give and get advice and opinions and even, with the use of a good pitch, can be an opportunity to show why you would be a good option for their companies. Also social media will help grow your network, especially on Twitter and LinkedIn, where most professionals are and they use these platforms to start discussions over a relevant topic and to share their own stories of how they got the role they have now and give advice on how to get to the position you want. LinkedIn is especially important as a professional network because there are a lot of businesses that look for new candidates on this platform, so keep your profile updated and active.

 

As Steve Jobs said during a speech at Standford University in 2005, when hundreds of students were about to graduate: “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” Never be satisfied, always push yourself and do the things people say you can’t do. 

 

Author: Berenice Ruiz, Marketing and Communication Intern, PRIA.

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