“I want this job and I know I have a good chance of landing because I’m qualified, experienced and very eager to work in this role.”
That’s what I’m going to say in eight months when I’ll have successfully completed all of the on-campus requirements of my degree (M.S. in Public Relations at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications) and am looking for full-time work. I’ll be looking at a job description like this one (excerpted below) from the University of Maryland, College Park.
Why am I so confident? Because I know I already have the skills necessary for the job. As you can see below, I have specific, public recommendations from supervisors attesting to my qualification in regards to the job duties and have more than adequate “Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities” for the job as evidenced by my portfolio and work experience. This isn’t to say that there aren’t many others with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to do the job, but I think I have an advantage because I’ve put in the time to display my qualifications online.
Why did I come to graduate school when many consider my degree unnecessary? I came here because I wouldn’t have Deloitte, GE, Dannon, and others recruiting in my living room but they are coming/have come to campus to recruit students like me.
It’s not as though the last 12 weeks have radically transformed me from someone who knew nothing about hard work, good writing, or effective teamwork into someone who does. But that doesn’t matter to employers. I can say I know this, that, and the other but it only matters because I have something to back it up.
Graduate school is a perfect filter for employers. They already know we’re well-qualified (someone with a Ph.d said we were better than 90% of other applicants), ambitious (spending the time and effort to do well here), and motivated (self-evident strong personal interest and reality of having to repay student loans).
So, while the information below will show that I could very well apply for this job today, I don’t want to have to go back to school later on in order to advance to a managerial position. Public Relations and Fundraising Managers made an average of $91,810 in 2010 while Public Relations Specialists earned $52,090. The disparity in wages and the increased speed of promotions that come with having a master’s degree, I’m betting, is worth the investment in time and money. Some PR professionals encourage people to get experience before pursuing a master’s in order to increase their chances of getting a job immediately following graduation.
Additionally, a master’s degree in Public Relations was noted by Bankrate.com as one of 5 graduate degrees that don’t pay off. This determination rested on the relatively low average return on investment (which may be skewed as it including advertising graduate degrees as well), and the opinion of two Liz Pulliam Weston, a columnist for MSN Money and Kristen Harris, who owns a staffing agency in Columbus, Ohio. However, the national survey and broad statements by those not in the PR field need to be taken in context.
I suspect if a proper survey were conducted Newhouse PR graduates would fare better than average. Newhouse graduate programs, in general, are successful. 89% of survey respondents who graduated from 2006-2009 from graduate programs at Newhouse were employed within 6 months of graduation. Additionally, I could have gone to more prestigious and nationally better known schools but I chose Newhouse because it’s the best choice for what I want. As well, the PR program here is respected enough for Richard Edelman to speak at last year’s convocation and partner with the school for one of Edelman’s diversity initiatives.
Anyway I’m highly biased so my opinion doesn’t count for much. I’m heavily invested in the idea that a master’s degree will help in the long-run and so I guess we’ll see in about ten years if I’m right or not. At the very least I’m sure that being properly educated in PR writing, graphic design, research, and business basics will, in addition to the experience-related credentials below, put me over the edge and secure me a job.
Without further adieu, here’s a few recommendations and the corresponding job responsibility followed by desired skills and the relevant evidence of those skills.
ANNOUNCEMENT OF POSITION VACANCY FOR Specialist
- “Geoff has worked with Mount Allison to develop a series of Social Media projects. In all aspects of the work, he has brought passion, persistence, and intelligence which have resulted in us achieving much more than we originally set out to do. Indeed, perhaps this sums up what Geoff brings to the table in his work: the ability to exceed expectations.”
- “The Communications Specialist must be organized, highly motivated and a self-starter.
- “Geoff is an incredibly reliable, efficient, and capable worker. In his capacity as Online Editor he was responsible for the web content of eight other editors as well as the demands of the production staff. He accomplished this with focus and good humour.…”
- “This position will serve as editor and project manager for UMD Right Now, one of the university’s key websites featuring the latest news and events at UMD.”
- “[Geoff's] knowledge of social media, ability to take direction and lead projects, and determination to get things done effectively and efficiently has been integral in getting a large number of projects completed this past summer. He has done everything from organizing video shoots to interviewing and creating a mailing list of 1000s to developing and maintaining social media tactics. I appreciate his dedication to his work, both in our office, the classroom, and in extracurriculars. He juggles an extremely busy schedule at Mount Allison, which will surely serve him well in his future endeavours.”
- Indirect Manager
- Responsibilities will include managing the daily editorial production process, delivering timely, relevant content (videos, press announcements, feature stories, etc.), contributing news stories and measuring effectiveness of online content and helping to develop multimedia packages that include original videos, slideshows, and interactive features.
- The ideal candidate will work with Communications team members on special projects as assigned, and will actively monitor editorial guidelines and be an efficient copyeditor.
- Additional responsibilities would include supporting the media plan developed by the Communications team, contributing to managing media relations efforts, developing media lists, monitoring editorial calendars, identifying coverage trends, and aiding in pitching stories for online and traditional media.
- Social media will be utilized by the candidate to increase visibility and influence across multiple platforms (Twitter, Facebook, blogging, commenting, etc.) and they would be expected to offer new and innovative ways to leverage social media activities, and provide measurement and ongoing effectiveness of the efforts.
Desired Skills & Experience
Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities:
- Strong writing, editing and research skills;must be proficient in AP Style writing. (Writing Samples, my A in PR Writing, and AP StyleGuard (which, to the chagrin of many long-time editors who had to memorize all fo AP Style’s technicalities, makes carrying around a physical stylebook outdated)
- Proven ability to juggle multiple priorities and meet deadlines. (My LinkedIn Profile)
- Solid interpersonal and communication skills. Collaborative, team-player. (My LinkedIn Profile Recommendations)
- Proficient in Microsoft Office. (Graduated from Mount Allison University)
- Experience with social media such as Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc. (Being paid to use those platforms on behalf of organizations)