Getting a Job after Newhouse

LinkedIn University of Maryland Communications Specialist
LinkedIn University of Maryland Communications Specialist
LinkedIn University of Maryland Communications Specialist

“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.

I’m in this program not only because I have the competence for it but because other people and ETS have said (through my undergraduate grades, letters of recommendation, and GRE scores) that I am.

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.

A recent study from Georgetown University found that Public Relations and Advertising graduate degrees had among the lowest return on investment at 12%.

Additionally, a master’s degree in Public Relations was noted by 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.


(Communications Specialist)


Desired Skills & Experience

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities: