Here's What to Do with a Public Relations Degree Today

By Tiara Ogabang

Fresh out of school 

Public relations today is an expansive field, so it’s no wonder that many people, young and old, are looking to study public relations through a higher learning institution. 

But, before making the leap, those people want to know what to do with a public relations degree once they have it. 

That’s what this article is all about: what you can do in the PR field once you’re fresh out of school with a new degree in hand. 

There are many different career options for PR professionals these days, though it’s worth keeping in mind that some of these options won’t be available right away, requiring prior PR experience. 

Joining a PR firm 

One of the most popular career options for those who are just entering the PR industry is working for a PR firm that has established itself, with many clients already in tow. 

The bigger the company, the more employees they need to keep things running smoothly, and that’s exactly where you come in. 

But if you’ve just graduated or you’re still in school learning all about PR, then trying for a full-time job right away might not be the best way to go. 

Let’s look at the options. 

Option 1: getting an internship 

The first option, and perhaps the easiest, is to apply for internships with PR companies. 

While this is something you can do either while in school or right after you’ve graduated, it’s important to remember that not all internships are created equal.

getting an internship

After searching for internships for just a few minutes, you’ll quickly notice that there are many different kinds. 

Some internships only last a few months while others might last a whole year, or more in some cases. 

Some internships will offer full pay, others simply a pay stipend, and others will pay nothing at all. 

You should also take a close look at the companies behind each internship. Consider the kinds of clients they tend to work with and whether those clients gel well with your interests. 

In the end, the best internship is the one that fits your needs. If you can’t afford to commit to a full-time, unpaid internship, then filter those out during your search. 

If you don’t have consistent transportation, then focus on virtual internships only. 

No matter the internship, there’s always a good chance that the company will consider hiring you when the internship has ended, especially if you already get along with the other employees. 

Option 2: interviewing for a salaried position 

Interviewing for a full-time PR job right out of college is certainly an appealing option, not the least because these positions often include generous salries, benefits, and maybe even a parking spot. 

But of course, the challenge of securing one of these jobs for yourself before you have any real PR experience is substantial. 

There’s going to be a lot of competition, and not just from other recent graduates with similar degrees. 

You’ll have to contend with more experienced candidates, meaning you’ll need to prove your worth to the company in just one or two short interviews. 

But if you can do that effectively, you’ll likely make it onto the shortlist and might even get hired after only a handful of job applications. 

Once you’ve secured such a role, you’ll have the comfort and security of a full-time job, which is a great way to start your PR career.

Starting a PR business of your own

If you enjoy the corporate culture, then you may even want to start pursuing promotions within the company. 

If you’re an especially talented PR professional, then you might earn a managerial role after just a few years. 

The most important part is to work hard every day and learn from your mistakes. This is a great way to be noticed for your work and prove that you can handle a great deal of responsibility. 

Starting a PR business of your own 

Starting your own business can be a harrowing experience, and it will be extremely difficult if you try immediately after earning a degree. 

But if you’ve already put years and years in with a larger PR company and you’re looking to brand out, it can definitely be a great way to do just that. 

Starting your own PR service is also advisable for anyone who finds that they dislike working in an office building with lots of other coworkers. 

Starting your own business not only means getting out of that office but also that you’ll be the boss of anyone you choose to include in your new business venture. 

Obviously, this route requires a large financial investment on your part, and there’s no guarantee that your new company will find success right away. 

Still, many people enjoy the rush of striking out as an entrepreneur and making a name for themselves. 

Working as a freelance publicist 

In certain ways, working as a freelance publicist can be quite similar to starting your own business, at least in terms of freedom and professional responsibility. 

Instead of working alongside others in an office, you can offer your services virtually, most likely as an independent contractor. 

This way, you can be in charge of your own schedule and potentially even work for multiple clients at once, increasing your financial security. 

The downsides, of course, are that you’ll need to pay for your own health benefits and everything else as well, including any business expenses you accrue. 

You can use professional contacts to find work or access any number of online freelance job boards where thousands of different employers list tasks on a daily basis, along with associated deadlines and special requirements. 

Finding your path 

Please keep in mind that these are all just suggestions for different careers within PR. Don’t feel the need to limit yourself to these options and remember that finding your own path can take time. 

When you’re patient and you work hard day in and day out, you’ll start to see where and when you work best.