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Deciding Between a PR Job & an Advanced Degree: Making the Right Decision


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Deciding what to do after graduation can be confusing. Do you try to get a job in public relations? Do you stay in school and go for an MA, or perhaps an MBA, or maybe even a JD? This webinar explored topics such as the advantages of taking the job; the advantages of graduate school; weighing the pros and cons of an MA, MBA, and JD; and things to keep in mind if you are thinking about graduate school. Moderated by Keith Burton, President of Insidedge/GolinHarris and a Plank Center Board member, the session included presentations by Brandi Boatner, a Past President of PRSSA; Doug Serton, an associate with Heyman Associates; and Dr. Karla Gower, associate professor of public relations at The University of Alabama and director of the Plank Center.

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Deciding Between a PR Job & an Advanced Degree: Making the Right Decision

  1. 1. Deciding  Between  a   PR  Job  and  an  Advanced  Degree   April  15,  2009  
  2. 2. Today’s  Presenters   Doug  Serton   Senior  Associate   Heyman  Associates,  Inc.                 Brandi  Boatner   NaFonal  President   Public  RelaFons  Student  Society  of  America               Karla  K.  Gower,  Ph.D.   Director,  Plank  Center  for  Leadership  in  Public  RelaFons   Behringer  DisFnguished  Professor   Dept.  of  AdverFsing  &  Public  RelaFons   The  University  of  Alabama        
  3. 3. PresentaFon  Outline   §  Job  vs.  Advanced  Degree:    The  Debate   §  What  is  the  Right  Decision?   §  From  a  Recruiter’s  perspecFve:    Taking  a  PR  Job   §  From  a  recent  MA  graduate’s  perspecFve:  Pursuing   the  Degree   §  Things  to  Consider  Regarding  an  Advanced  Degree   §  SelecFng  the  Degree   §  Final  Thoughts   §  QuesFons?  
  4. 4. Jobs  vs.  Advanced  Degree:    The   Debate   “PR  and  adver*sing   specialists  are  among  the  top   20  best  growth  jobs  in  the   next  decade,  growing  at  a   rate  of  more  than  20%.”   “The  #1  job  opportunity  in   corporate  America  in  the  next   decade  is  social  media   specialist  or  social  media   consultant.”     -­‐  Author  Thomas  Rozof   “More  than  90%  of  UA’s  MA   graduates  obtain  posiJons  in   the  profession  in  six  months;   fewer  than  half  of  the  BA   graduates  do.”   “The  average  worker  with  a   Masters  degree  will  make   $10,000  or  more  per  year  than   those  with  a  Bachelors  degree.”  
  5. 5. What  is  the  Right  Decision?   Ø No  perfect  answer;  no  single  answer   Ø The  answer  varies  from  individual  to  individual,   depending  on  a  number  of  factors,  such  as:     §  Personal  financial  situaFon   §  Current  economic  climate  and  job  market   §  Passion  for  further  educaFon   §  Goals  and  aspiraFons  for  the  future  
  6. 6. While  there  is  no  “correct”  answer,  this  presentaFon  is   designed  to  give  you  a  beZer  understanding  of  your  opFons    
  7. 7. From  a  Recruiter’s  PerspecFve…   “As  both  a  recruiter  and  a  young  professional  in  the  PR  industry,  while  I  would   suggest  keeping  all  of  your  op;ons  open,  I  believe  breaking  into  the  work   force  should  be  your  first  priority.”     Ø  Cost   Ø  Experience:  Classroom  seng  is  very  different  from  the  workplace   Ø  ApplicaJon:  Classroom  experiences  are  enhanced  by  work  experience   Ø  Career  focus:  Entry-­‐level  jobs  can  provide  direcFon  
  8. 8. Taking  a  PR  Job   Ø   There  are  several  benefits  to  taking  a  PR  job,  including:   §  Earning  income  to  pay  off  college  debt   §  Developing  skills  on  the  job   §  Building  a  professional  network   §  Determining  if  the  profession  is  a  good  match  earlier  in   career   §  Possibility  of  employer  helping  you  pay  for  a  graduate   degree  in  the  future  
  9. 9. From  a  recent  MA  graduate’s   perspecFve   Ø   There  are  several  benefits  to  an  advanced  degree,  including:     § Gaining  in-­‐depth  knowledge  of  the  profession   § Strengthening  criFcal-­‐thinking  and  management  skills   § Developing  applied  research  skills   § Gaining  a  more  thorough  understanding  of  communicaFon   theories  and  their  implicaFons  for  pracFce   § BoosFng  subsequent  job  opportuniFes  (and  possibly  salary)   § An  advanced  degree  makes  you  eligible  to  teach  at  virtually  any   community  college  in  the  country  (and  some  universiFes)  
  10. 10. Keep  in  Mind…   Ø An  advanced  degree  should  not  be  a  detour  or   “way  out”  of  eventually  aZaining  a  job   §  Important  to  seek  real  world  experience  to  foster   academic  knowledge  
  11. 11. Things  to  Consider  Regarding  an   Advanced  Degree   Ø   Cost   Ø   The  Program   Ø   The  ReputaFon  of  InsFtuFon   Ø   Deadline  and  other  Requirements  
  12. 12. SelecFng  the  Degree   Ø  The  MA  in  PR  or  a  communicaFon-­‐related  area   §  1-­‐2  year  program   §  Moderately  priced   §  Increases  your  specializaFon  in  the  field     §  Enhances  criFcal  thinking,  management  understanding  and  applied  research  capability     Ø  The  MBA   §  18-­‐24  month  program   §  Admission  is  quite  compeFFve   §  TuiFon  can  be  expensive   §  Provides  business  and  financial  knowledge  and  language   §  Enhances  criFcal-­‐thinking  and  analyFcal  skills,  and  increases  understanding  of  environmental  and   globalizaFon  factors  affecFng  organizaFons     Ø  The  JD   §  3  years  of  full-­‐Fme  study   §  Admission  is  compeFFve   §  TuiFon  is  expensive   §  Strengthens  analyFcal  and  problem-­‐solving  skills   §  Increases  understanding  of  prevailing  laws  and  regulaFons  governing  communicaFons  and   organizaFons  
  13. 13. Final  Thoughts    “When  students  ask  me  the  ques;on  about  a  job  versus  a  graduate  degree,  I  always  tell   them  the  same  thing:  Create  as  many  opportuni;es  for  yourself  as  you  can.  This  means   apply  for  jobs,  apply  to  graduate  schools  of  choice,  and  inves;gate  na;onal  and   interna;onal  service  programs  like  Teach  for  America,  AmeriCorps,  and  the  Peace  Corps.   Then,  based  on  the  real  choices  available,  decide  which  opportunity  seems  best  for  them.   None  of  the  choices  are  bad  choices.”     “If  you  get  offered  a  job,  great!  Take  it.  You  can  always  go  to  graduate  school  later  if  you   really  want  to.  If  you  don’t  get  a  job,  go  to  graduate  school  and  increase  your  odds  of   geJng  one  down  the  road.”     “Graduate  school  isn’t  for  everyone.  I  always   tell  students  to  keep  their  op;ons  open.  Apply   for  jobs  and  apply  for  graduate  school.”      
  14. 14. QuesFons?