By: Bella Fordyce, Account Associate for Penn State Global Entrepreneurship Week
The most crushing part of any entry-level internship/job description: experience required. If you need experience to get a job, where do you get the experience?! It may seem impossibly frustrating, but there are plenty of ways to gain practical communications experience while in college that don’t require a resume!
Start a Blog
Not only is this a great way to get some writing experience, it’s also a great way to build your personal brand! If you’re struggling to find topics to write about, you can start by finding inspiration from something you are passionate about or your future career goals. For example, if you want to work for a major cosmetics company and love makeup, blog about beauty products and trends! It’s a great way to show your expertise in the area, stay on top of the industry, and keep your writing skills sharp.
Join a Club
It’s never too late to get involved in a new organization! On-campus groups are a great way to meet new people who have similar interests, and can be a great source of leadership opportunities. Get experience as your club’s public relations chair or communications director–and if they don’t offer those types of positions, make your own! If you see missed opportunities in the way your club is communicating, don’t be afraid to take the initiative to pitch a club leader a new position! Professional organizations like PRSSA are also great ways to gain practical skills and experience that will come in handy on your next job search!
Don’t overlook class experience! Whether it’s an article you wrote for a journalism class, campaign materials from a group project, or a graphic you made in a digital art class; don’t be afraid to include it in your portfolio! If you want to expand your horizons, take an elective that might not be directly related to your career goals, but can give you experience in similar fields.
Write! Write! Write!
For many communications majors (especially PR), writing is a key skill that can’t be overlooked. Fortunately, there are plenty of opportunities to get your writing published (other than on your personal blog). If covering events sounds interesting to you, consider applying to your campus newspaper. If you want more flexibility in choosing what you write, online publications like The Tab, The Odyssey, and HerCampus are great places to start as a contributor.
Jump at Every Chance
I’ve never seriously considered becoming a journalist, but I really enjoyed a required journalistic writing class I needed to take. The College of Communications was planning a political conventions course for the summer, and my professor happened to recommend me for it. Six months later, I found myself at the Republican National Convention interviewing delegates for a major newspaper company. It was an incredible experience that helped me grow both as a writer and communications student. When opportunities present themselves, don’t be afraid to snatch them up–you might regret it if you don’t!