Degree in hand, now what?
So you’ve just finished a Master’s program in public relations or a closely-related field. With your degree in hand, you might be asking yourself, “What can I do with a Master’s in public relations?”
In school, the plan seemed simple enough, but now that it’s come down to brass tacks, starting your career can feel more than a little intimidating.
Should you jump right into the deep end and try to work your way up through a large PR agency? Should you take some time to explore your options? Should you get en unrelated day job while you look for something more substantial?
Your next move from here is entirely up to you, but we would like to offer a few different options that are completely viable for anyone who has secured a Master’s degree in public relations.
Take a look at each one and give yourself some time to consider whether each one would set you on the career path you’ve been hoping for since you first began studying public relations.
Climb the ladder
The simplest, and probably also the most obvious, option for someone who’s just earned a Master’s in public relations is to jump right into the PR industry at an entry-level position and work your way up from there.
Of course, securing a steady job with a PR agency is much easier said than done, even with a Master’s degree in tow.
It can take time to sort through different job listings, and it can take even longer to get some real in-person interviews with different companies.
However, having not only a degree in public relations but a Master’s degree will be a huge help during your job search.
Companies aren’t just looking for fresh PR graduates, they’re looking for talented graduates who are ready to work, and who might even be worth grooming into management material.
Being able to list a Master’s degree on your resume will help you stand above the crowd, and if you make it clear right from the application process that you’re interested in leadership positions, then you’ll have much better luck earning promotions.
Making your ambition clear is incredibly important, and your Master’s degree, on its own, will do some of that work for you.
In-house marketing services for a company can be different from more traditional PR efforts in subtle ways, not the least of which being that, as an in-house employee, you have a direct link to the company in question and their operations.
This is quite different from working with a large PR agency where much of the business is about onboarding and keeping different clients, all of whom are companies that exist outside of your own.
There are definite benefits to working as part of an in-house marketing department, especially if you prove yourself to be a hard worker and a quick thinker.
But in-house work also means, in general, a lack of variety. Unless the company you’re working for offers a huge array of different products across multiple industries, then you’ll most likely be promoting the same kinds of products or services for the duration of your employment with that company.
In contrast, when you work with a PR agency that handles multiple clients, there’s a better chance that you’ll work across different campaigns for different clients, which would significantly change up the specifics of your day-to-day work.
Before making a move, ask yourself which of these work environments you would prefer. If you don’t mind a lack of variety, then working in-house could be a solid and steady job that could lead to an even brighter career in the future.
Become an entrepreneur
One of the boldest career options for someone who has just earned a Master’s in public relations and is wondering what to do next is to become an entrepreneur in the PR space.
This could mean different things depending on your preferences, but the most straightforward option would be to start your very own PR company.
This is where we have to note that starting any business involves a great deal of risk, especially financial risk, and so this decision should not be made lightly.
Also, starting a PR business without at least a small amount of professional experience in the industry adds even more risk to the mix.
As such, it’s probably advisable to only consider starting your own PR company if you’ve already gained a significant amount of experience working with a PR agency of some kind.
The knowledge you gained with your degree will certainly be crucial to starting a company, but its best to get some real-world experience and come to a much more comprehensive understanding of how PR companies operate, under both positive and negative conditions.
Once you feel that you’ve gained a substantial amount of professional experience, as well as a substantial savings account, then the possibility of starting your own PR company will quickly become less risky.
Work as a PR consultant
Lastly, we’d like to mention the option of becoming a PR consultant. Working as a consultant is a viable option for anyone who’s studied PR, and it’s also an option that can take different forms depending on your professional decisions.
It’s certainly possible to work as a PR consultant within a larger consultancy company, though working with an existing consultation company will also depend on your geographic location.
If your town/city doesn’t already have several of these companies to choose from and you’re not willing to relocate at this time, then you’ll need to consider other options.
But an increasingly popular route in the PR consultancy space is working as a freelance consultant.
However, as we discussed in the entrepreneur section, being able to sustain yourself in this way will depend heavily on your past professional experience and your reputation within the PR industry.
Unless you already have a successful track record, you’re going to have real difficulty getting started as a freelance consultant.