I came into my senior year with most of my required course work out of the way, aside from a few classes, so most of my schedule was filled with electives necessary to meet my hour requirement. I’m definitely glad that I front loaded my schedule before my senior year though because I edited at the Daily Iowan first semester and worked fulltime at the Gazette second semester while still taking a full schedule. I’d say that I had a really busy year but was glad that I had two solid internships that I was able to do while still in school. Even if I was a little pinched for time and always on the run doing something for class, PRSSA, work or whatever else, having the experiences and building skills at each of the jobs was definitely worth it- I’d suggest trying to squeeze in some sort of major-related position while in school, especially since internships and jobs will want you to have previous work experience.
I started looking seriously for full-time positions (“real jobs”) in the winter while I was at the Gazette, mostly using Twitter followers (I follow quite a few people/orgs that post jobs, etc) and filling out applications to companies I knew I was interested in. I focused on a PR job rather than newspaper because the news industry was not faring too well. I didn’t get anything that I wanted for summer so I looked around Iowa City and found two unpaid things that I could use to fill my time and that would hopefully boost my resume. Working at the Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce and Iowa Bicycle Coalition for free, I was primarily doing newsletter article writing, working with communication outreach plans and doing a little event planning; stuff that gave me experience doing a few things that I hadn’t had hands-on experience with in the professional sense and ended up benefitting me in my later job search.
I applied mostly at agencies while looking for a fall 2009 position (GolinHarris, Edelman, Fleishman-Hillard and the like) and wasn’t picky about the location because I knew any of the top companies would open doors for me. I got interviews with FH in St. Louis and Atlanta and ended up taking the St. Louis one before hearing from Atlanta because I knew it was closer and that I’d enjoy being in the headquarters where more things happened and I’d have the chance to be around the corporate heads if I worked there.
The way the job market is right now, I’d say not to be picky about where you go and maybe even what job you get at first, the key is getting the necessary experience so you can work your way up the ladder in the long run. Sending out applications- I sent out at least 50 I know- and keeping in touch with people you’ve met that are in the company are important if you expect to get an offer. So basically: send out plenty of applications early on, network whenever you get the chance- you’ll be walking a fine line between being passionate and being annoying but you have to be, and make sure to load your resume as early as you can.
Written by Carla Keppler
Former Finance Director