One of the things I love most about the public relations field is that it offers limitless opportunities. Thanks to technology and the ever-changing demands of society, the public relations profession now includes social media, event planning, government relations and much more.
Once public relations students graduate, they have the choice of either applying for jobs within a department or firm. What is the difference, you ask? Departments handle all of the public relations duties for a specific company. On the other hand, firms may be hired by several companies at a time to handle just a few, or all, of their public relations responsibilities
It is largely debated whether working for a department or firm is better, but I say that there is no right answer. In this case, it is each to his/her own.
Even though I would ultimately like to work serve as a practitioner for the public relations department of a non-profit organization, I think it is a wise decision for college students to choose a firm over a department after graduating. Here are a few reasons why:
1. When I interned for a local public relations firm last semester, I gained several skills, such as search engine optimization writing, creating and maintaining relationships with the media, and press release writing, that are necessary for jobs within the field. That being said, firms can help college graduates build their skill sets.
2. The staff of firms is likely to consist of professionals who have ten, twenty, thirty plus years of experience who can mentor college students and help them develop the qualities they will need to succeed in the field.
3. Most departmental jobs require at least five years of prior public relations experience, which means it is typically difficult for college students to be hired for them straight out of college.
4. Working for a firm can help public relations college graduates who eventually want to work in a department discover what they are passionate about and like to do. They can get their hands on projects for a multitude of clients who each have different goals, products and services. When their tenure is up, they will probably have a better idea of the type of company or organization they would like to serve as a public relations practitioner for.
Where do you think college graduates should start off? Department or firm? Which do you prefer to work for? I would love to hear.