A colleague recently asked for my thoughts on a recent post on Joe Thornley’s blog which asked the question, what education are PR firms looking for in new recruits? As a member of the recruiting team at Voce, we often discuss the most important things we look for in new candidates fresh out of college.
To answer Joe’s question, at Voce we require all candidates to have at least a Bachelor’s degree. It’s nice to have advanced degrees, but we don’t see that as a necessity; in fact, I agree with a commenter on the post that at times being over-educated can be as bad as being under-educated. Ideally, a degree in Public Relations or Journalism exposes students to the type of coursework that best prepares a graduate for a career in PR; however, some schools don’t offer a PR degree. Marketing, Communication and English degrees are alternatives that also supply students with some of the basic knowledge they’ll need to jumpstart their career in the field.
Joe stated that problem-solving is one of the top attributes that college graduates should possess if they’re looking to work for a PR firm. While I agree that’s an important skill to have, any PR firm that lists problem-solving as one of the main skills they look for in new candidates is basically saying they’ll take anyone with a college degree. Nearly all college-level curriculum these days, regardless of major, requires heavy problem-solving in order to be successful. We do solve problems every day in PR, but it’s a necessary trait for many, many other jobs. I assume that a person that has graduated from college, or is on track to graduate on-time, has sufficient problem-solving skills.
At Voce, the most important thing we look for from college graduates we’re considering is experience. I know college students will read this and ask, “how am I supposed to get experience while I’m in school?” The answer to that question is simple: internships. Internships prepare students for a job after college better than anything they learn in the classroom. That’s not a knock on education, internships just give students a glimpse/experience into the types of things they’ll do on the job that classroom learning simply can’t offer. Ideally, students that want to work for a PR firm post graduation are looking for internships that also offer a chance to learn about social media in addition to public relations. Understanding social media gives students a leg up over others in the job hunt. Voce’s ideal fresh-out-of-college hire understands both so they can contribute immediately to both our PR and Social Media programs.