Elizabeth Keserauskis

Building relationships and making connections

The State of Today’s Graduate Seeking Work in Communications

I attended a speed networking event pairing current students (most of whom are about to graduate) with alumni working in various fields last night. The idea is based on the “speed dating” concept, but in this situation alumni are stationed at tables and students rotate among them for 15 minute networking sessions. The concept is fantastic, and I am so glad I participated and could provide perspective to students entering the workforce.

What concerns me after the event is the state of preparedness of the students about to enter the workforce, particularly in communications fields. They don’t have experience beyond their internships, and are about to compete with folks who have much more experience for the same jobs in our economy. Internships are almost critical for students these days. Many of them realize they will likely have to take full-time internships with companies (many without benefits) in order to get their foot in the door.

But the problem doesn’t stop at their lack of tangible experience. To me it is more worrisome that they have not been required to hone their writing skills. Many have not had to compose extensive persuasive papers in their last year of two in school. I have yet to find one who understands just how drastically the internet has changed the strategic communications field. Most of them believe they are going to find a job in “PR”. Well, it’s not just PR anymore. You have to have the understanding of how to help a company establish and manage a reputation, among all their audiences and across all media. It is not just traditional media releases and pitching. Most of them don’t understand the direct-to-consumer conversation potential with the internet. Many of them look at me with blank stares when I ask them if they understand the basics of SEO & SEM.

The best I can hope for is that the sites where these students are doing their internships give them several sips from the fire hose and give them a chance to realize what they haven’t learned yet. Then the most motivated will make it a priority to teach themselves what they can. And in the meantime, I am dreading the day when I have to hire an entry level communications position. I certainly will have to manage my own expectations!

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March 30, 2011 Posted by | communication, higher education, reputation management | , , , , | Leave a comment