How do you network with PR firms when you attend a school which is not located in a big city? This question was recently raised by a group of students from my alma mater – West Virginia University. I could relate to this question, since I was in their shoes 10 years ago and also wanted to pursue a career with a large PR firm.
After applying to more than 100 jobs after college, I was able to break through and land an internship at Ketchum Pittsburgh that led to a full-time position in their Chicago office. Here are some tips that helped me network with the big city folks:
Agency Office Tours: Plan a day trip to a nearby “big city” to visit agencies. This could be on your own or through PRSSA. Reach out to someone from the agency account team or human resources to request the tour.
Network with Alumni: Utilize alumni directories and LinkedIn to find alumni working at PR agencies. Email people and inquire about their career path. Once you start a conversation, consider asking if you can job shadow them or if they would speak to your class in person or via video conference. While my alma mater is only a little over an hour away from Pittsburgh, you’d be surprised at how many people have emailed me to network (the answer: NONE!)
Stay in Touch: Once you make that connection, don’t be a stranger! Stay in touch with the professional via email each semester. Consider emailing them if you see their agency making positive headlines or ask them to review your resume.
Brandi Smith is a 2003 graduate of West Virginia University with a B.S. in Public Relations. She currently is an Account Supervisor at Ketchum Pittsburgh where she is a member of the Brand Marketing practice. Brandi is professional advisor to the Point Park University PRSSA chapter in Pittsburgh.