A college education is an investment in your future. Like all investments, some pay you back while others do not.
First, the bad news: According to PayScale.com (2010), a college degree in Communication or Public Relations is not listed in the top 15 most profitable college degrees. In fact, ten of the 15 are engineering-related.
The good news: a college degree in Communication or Public Relations is not listed in the 15 least profitable college degrees either. But Education is. What does that mean to instructors of Mass Communication/PR like me? It is what it is. I do not teach to get rich, but teaching makes me rich in many ways beyond money. My job is to help my students maximize their investment in education.
What is the bottom line for my undergrads seeking degrees in Mass Communication/Public Relations? The data say that you will not be the highest paid, but you will not be the lowest paid either.
If you want to maximize your earning potential, then here is my advice:
- Study hard and make good grades.
- Learn to apply the knowledge gained in the classroom. Be able to explain what Communication/PR is and what it does to help an organization accomplish its mission.
- Get as many internships as you can to gain hands-on, practical experience to augment your classroom studies.
- Be active in student Communication/PR professional association chapters. Better yet, take officer/leadership positions. This looks good on your resume and helps to differentiate you from your competition.
- Have a clean, professional resume and generic cover letter ready at all times.
- Practice interviewing skills. Learn to sell yourself in an interview. See #2 above.
- Emphasize any work experience you have had during college. Employers like people with a documented work record and an established work ethic.
- Begin networking with potential employers before you graduate. Career fairs, contacts through your internships, etc., present opportunities for you to get to know potential employers and vice versa.
- Use social media to make people aware of you — blog, tweet, use LinkedIn, always positioning yourself as a competent, engaged, up-and-coming young Communication/PR professional.
- Clean up your Facebook page to present an image of a young professional, not a drink-swilling party animal.
- Consider a Master’s degree in either Communication/PR or IMC or an MBA. Advantages of enrolling now right after graduation are that you wait out the weak economy while becoming more qualified. Disadvantages are, in my opinion, grad school means more and is easier if you have some work experience. Plus, many employers help pay for your advanced degree through tuition reimbursement programs. For more on seeking a graduate degree, see my post, “Grad school decision time: master’s degree in communication or MBA or IMC?”