Temperatures are rising and flowers are blooming – the sure sign of spring approaching. For college students, this time of year is characterized by finding that perfect post-grad job or summer internship. Internships are an invaluable way to gain experience, make connections and prove yourself outside of the classroom setting, but they are also highly competitive. You may be wondering if there is a way to start preparing now to have the best chance for success. Read below for the three main categories employers look at during the interview process and how to make yourself stand out in each:
While it’s true that employers won’t care about your college GPA ten years from now, right after you graduate, they definitely will. We value hiring smart interns and employees, as grade point averages tell much more about a person than intelligence – they measure time management skills, levels of responsibility, effort, attention to detail and a willingness to succeed. If an employer didn’t see you put effort into your public relations classes, why should they be confident that you will give your best to their company? If your GPA isn’t exactly where you want it to be, can you work to raise it during your current semester? GPA’s that climb each year are great signs of someone who is proactively working hard to achieve success.
After your grade point average, the first thing employers will look at is your relevant experience, so make sure it’s at the top of your resume! While any work experience is helpful, employers really want to make sure you’re relatively equipped to take on traditional public relations duties like writing, editing and critically thinking to ensure you’re a valuable addition to the team. Is your most recent experience public relations related? If not, can you do something now to add to your resume? If you need to work outside of the PR field, consider volunteering instead. Can you join your university PRSSA? Write for the yearbook or newspaper? Run social media for a university department? It’s no secret that college students are busy, but dedicating some of your free time to a public relations focused venture will show future employers that you’re passionate and qualified.
Since our core values are smart, proactive and results, one key step in our hiring process is to have all applicants complete a writing test in order to see these qualities in action. While this test is helpful for us to see more of the candidates writing abilities, it also allows us to see if they are willing to go the extra mile. Although you may not have to complete a writing test for every company you apply to, it always stands out to send an extra writing sample along with your resume and customized cover letter. Remember, your materials are the first impression employers get of you, so make sure they are prompt, considerate and well done!
While anyone will tell you that the classroom is a lot different than the conference room, the skills you obtain in college will lead the way for you to achieve lasting career success. With good grades, applicable experience and a lot of effort, your dream job may be closer to reality than you think.