It can be a daunting prospect, as a student entering the final stages of your degree, not knowing what to do after you graduate. It’s often hard to envisage what the first step on your career ladder will look like, let alone how to get there.

That’s certainly how I felt as a third-year undergraduate. So when I was invited to join the University of Leeds’ School of Media and Communications careers day to educate students about the world of PR, I jumped at the opportunity.

The day was centred around a series of interactive panel discussions featuring individuals from a variety of media and comms backgrounds. First up was a ‘Meet the bosses’ panel, in which MWWPR’s Senior Account Director Ked Mather joined leaders from BBC Radio Leeds, Hewlett Packard and more. I then participated in a ‘PR and marketing panel’ alongside a cohort of recent graduates currently employed in a mixture of agency and in-house roles.

For those looking to take their first step on the PR/marketing career ladder, here are my key learnings from the day:

Don’t panic if you don’t know what you want to do, even after leaving university – none of the speakers on the ‘Meet the bosses’ panel were completely set on their chosen career path at their time of graduation. They agreed that you’re more likely to be successful doing something you enjoy, and suggested basing choices on your likes and interests.

Make sure you tailor your CV for the job you’re applying for – employers never read every detail on a CV, so bring your most relevant experience to the forefront of your application.

Network, network, network – attending a university careers day and speaking to people from different companies is a good first step to making contacts within your chosen industry. It’s important to have a strong network in any career as you never know where opportunities and openings may arise.

Show willing, and enthusiasm – an interesting insight from one of the senior panellists was that prospective employees who showed an added desire always go to the top of the list. For example, asking to look around a workplace or putting yourself forward for a few days unpaid work experience stands you in good stead for when a vacancy becomes available.

Internships are a good way in – with PR, internships are often necessary to achieve a full-time role. It’s worth noting that internships at small and medium sized agencies are rarely widely advertised so don’t be afraid to submit a speculative application.

Look at how you fit with the company culture – the ‘PR and marketing’ panel agreed that some people may be better suited to working in an agency, whereas others may prefer an in-house environment. Ultimately, you’ll need to go and get a feel for a company’s culture and way of working to find out whether it’s right for you.

If you’re interested in applying for an internship with MWWPR then please click here.

Ben Hustwayte, Account Executive