Midterms are looming in the horizon along with the gray skies of winter. Times like these, we can all use a little good news to brighten our day. For students in the Department of Applied Communication Studies at SIUE, this article from Forbes.com, “The College Majors Whose Starting Salaries Have Increased The Most” just might do the trick.
Many college students are bombarded with horror stories of college graduates still waiting tables and making a living off of tips because they either can’t find a job at all or can’t find one that pays enough to “pay the bills.” According to data cited in the above article, the communications discipline had the second-greatest jump in salaries showing a 10.1 percent increase over 2013, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics states public relations specialists are still seeing continued growth in the industry. So while the job market is competitive, the jobs and the salaries are seeing promising growth for new public relations professionals.
This doesn’t really come as a surprise to me because I hear success stories from a lot of recent graduates. I also see LinkedIn updates from many of our alumni as they land their first jobs, and for many, in a short period of time, move beyond their initial entry-level positions.
The “teachable moment” in these success stories is for current students to see the common denominators among those experiencing this success. You don’t see it coming from those who while in college just wanted to scrape by doing the bare minimum necessary to walk across that stage in May. However, success doesn’t necessarily just go to the 4.0 students either. On the contrary, the students I see achieving early success in their careers are those who not only performed well academically, but also realized the value of professional development outside the classroom. These students took leadership roles in student organizations such as PRSSA; they took the effort needed to ensure they attended local, regional and national industry-related conferences; and they participated in not just one but often two or three internships over the course of their college careers.
It’s exciting to reach out to former students and ask them to come back and serve on one of the PR professional panels that I host every semester. These panels often served as networking opportunities for these ambitious students. Now, they are sitting on the other side of the table and sharing similar advice with students sitting where they once sat just a few years ago. This offers hope to students because for many, seeing is believing. I can stand up in front of these classrooms and say, “Do this, do that” until I am blue in the face – but let one of these young professionals come back and tell them, “You need to get an internship, you need to be a strong writer,” then they are paying attention!
So, there is good news for communication majors, but start taking action now toward achieving that success. Join PRSSA or another professional group relating to your chosen career; set up your LinkedIn profile and begin learning how to leverage it toward your career goals; take advantage of volunteer opportunities; find a variety of internships; read and learn about the industry you plan to enter; and take your coursework seriously. Look at each assignment beyond the mere 100 points you may earn in the current class. See the forest!
In the meantime, pull up a chair and let’s talk!