August 1, 2016
How to Become a Communications Specialist
An intriguing field with plenty of career opportunities, the field of communications has a lot to offer recent grads. If you’re interested in becoming a communications specialist, you might be wondering about the best way to get started. Should you look for an internship or attend networking events? Ideally, you’ll want to do both with a few other things mixed in.
Here are the steps you need to follow in order to become a communications specialist.
1. Decide what area of communications you’re interested in
Like the field of public relations, communications focuses on building and maintaining relationships between a company and the public (including customers, the media and industry thought leaders). However, unlike public relations, communications is a broader field which also includes creating internal communication strategies and training programs for specific companies. In order to give yourself the best chance of success in the field, it’s important to research the different type of communications you’re most interested in. For example, if the idea of being the public face of a company appeals to you, then a role on an external communications team could be a good fit. On the other hand, if you think you’d rather work to build communications policies within the company, then an internal communications role might be a better choice.
Pro Tip: If you’re not sure what each type of role entails, reach out to people who work in the industry — either from your own network or from your school’s alumni network — and ask to set up a 15 minute chat so that you can find out more about the roles and decide which one is most appealing to you.
2. Develop your skill set by taking relevant classes
In addition to learning about the field itself, it’s also important to develop your skill set by taking relevant classes and working on independent projects. Good classes to take include those that fall under the umbrella of a communications major — such as marketing, sociology and business classes. These will give you a better understanding of the field as well as helping you to develop useful skills like crafting press releases.
Pro Tip: If you’re interested in more than one subject, consider taking on a double major or minor to help you learn about communications while also giving you the chance to explore other subjects.
3. Intern with a communications agency
Internships are another great way to learn new skills and get hands-on experience and interning with a communications agency is a great way to gain exposure to all the different aspects of a communications position. During your internship, you’ll attend strategy meetings, create materials for distribution and learn how to handle media enquiries. Best of all, you’ll get a sense of how all of these different tasks fit together to create an integrated communications plan.
4. Grow your professional network
One of the best things to do in any industry is to grow your professional network. When it comes to communications, this is especially important since you’ll frequently liaise with journalists and customers, as well as working closely with other communications professionals. The best way to do this is by reaching out to your network of friends, professors and peers and identifying those people who have direct experience in the field. Beyond that, it’s also a great idea to stay in touch with former co-workers and managers from your previous jobs. Since communications is a tight-knit field, they’re likely to know about new opportunities as they come up and they can help connect you with hiring managers for those roles.
Working in communications is an exciting opportunity to be both the public face and internal core of a company. By following these tips, you’ll be sure to find an opportunity that’s right for you.
Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as 5 Tips for Getting an Entry-Level Job Unrelated to Your Major and find answers to common interview questions such as Why Do You Want to Work Here?