By Cori Cagide, Associate Publicist
It’s college graduation season. For many recent and upcoming graduates, the biggest question remains: “What do I do now?” As a communications major with a concentration in public relations and a minor in digital communication and media, I had a lot of options as far as career paths. I’ve always been a strong writer and passionate about media, reading and books in general. Finding a way to combine my love for both public relations and publishing seemed attainable, but I wondered how common that role was in a professional setting.
I was fortunate enough to find an internship during my last semester at school at a company that combined both. MEDIA CONNECT is the books/publishing division of Finn Partners, a widely respected and recognized public relations firm. I decided to push my luck at the end of my internship, which ended in mid-May 2013 at the same time I graduated college. I was offered a part-time position for the summer that turned into a full time position in the fall.
So, I did it. How can you?
I know how tough it can be to figure out what you want to do with your life. Don’t beat yourself up about it. According to a statement from the Washington Post at this time last year only 27 percent of college grads have a job related to their major. I knew what I loved to do, but figuring out how to make that into a career was the tough part. It’s all about figuring out how to utilize what you’ve learned and make it applicable to a wide array of fields, so when it comes time to search for a job you have a multitude of options. According to the bureau of labor statistics, the average projected growth rate for professions in this country is 11 percent. The projected growth for public relations sits just above the average, at 12 percent. For those of us who are nervous about the job market, it’s nice to know PR is a fast-growing and ever-changing career that can allow you to explore several areas of interest simultaneously, once you find what you’re looking for.
I entered into college as a business major, but found that I wasn’t much for numbers or finance in general. Writing has always been my strong suit, so I took the leap, just one semester shy of graduating from the business school, and transferred to the communication school. With that, I was able to take less math classes and more creative writing and media studies courses. It was then that I found my passion for public and media relations.
To me, it’s never too late to change your mind. You just have to be willing to do what it takes to follow through and get to where you want to be.
Now, what should you be doing to be on the right track towards a career in public relations and publishing? You’ll need to have strong written and oral communications skills, as you’re dealing with everyone from editors and producers to clients and their teams on a daily basis. You have to be resourceful, creative and proactive in your pitching while also being compassionate, collaborative and a strong listener with clients. In publishing, a love of books is fundamental. Most people in the industry have a long relationship with books that has made them so passionate about their jobs. You also have to stay on top of the news and be aware of what’s happening around you. Having a news tie-in that can make your author an expert on a particular subject is like finding the holy grail of the campaign.
When it comes to where to work, you have the option to be in-house or in-agency. I took the agency route, but that might not work for everyone. I’d recommend testing the waters and trying both. As with most things, when you know, you know, and I knew that I wanted to have more one-on-one interaction with clients and the ability to work on a wide range of projects. At times, publicists in-house are confined to particular imprints, and I wanted the opportunity to have a wider range of accounts. There are, of course, benefits to both, and at MEDIA CONNECT we work with publishing houses quite often, so I still get a little bit of both.
So now, here I am – one full year and three title changes later as an Associate Publicist at MEDIA CONNECT.One might say I’m the poster child for intern success stories here, and they’d be right. They’d also be correct in assuming I found the perfect way to combine the two things that I love so much, and have grown to love even more as I continue on this career path. I still spend my 90-minute (each way) commute reading, both for work and on my own. I get to put my creative writing courses to good use every day, crafting, editing, and reworking pitches a thousand times over. I’m constantly engaging with the media, so I stay on top of the news constantly. You never know when you’ll find a great news tie-in and have to be resourceful at a moment’s notice while on the phone with a producer!
So, my advice, not only to graduates, but also to anybody trying to find their way in the professional world or contemplating a career change, is that even though it may seem like an uncommon goal, go after it. I’m not sure how many of my professors would have advised me to do this, but, keep pushing your luck! You just might get lucky and land your dream job.
Related: Meet Our MC Team: Cori Cagide