We are definitely living in not only a tough economy, but a very competitive job market. Job applicants have a wave of obstacles and challenges ahead of them right after graduation with the increased pressure to find their ideal job in their industry. Public relations students are in the same boat – we are encouraging our students to take as many classes as they can in the field, work on making sure to have at least several internships under their belt, and be proactive in expanding their knowledge and skill base in emerging technologies.
While all of these are very important suggestions to give our students, there is one that I have been sharing with my students over the last couple of years, and that is taking the opportunity to do an international internship, or even take a position abroad in PR. This accomplishes several things. First, it shows employers you are adaptive and willing to work anywhere at anytime. Second, you are not only learning about public relations, but you are integrating yourself into the culture and society of the country you are living in at a given point in time.
I have always been a fan of traveling to other countries, and I had the opportunity while I was at USC for my Master’s to go to South Africa for a summer and work in PR. It was one of the best decisions I ever made and a life changing time for me not only professionally, but personally as well. This one experience lead to more opportunities to travel when I was in the PhD program at Tennessee and now as an assistant professor at the University of Louisville.
By November, I will have presented my research in several countries such as Australia (November 2012), Brazil (May 2010), China (May 2008), Greece (June 2009), Italy (May 2012), The Netherlands (May 2009), and Turkey (May 2012). I am going to be attending the upcoming RI conference in Milan in a few weeks and then will be in Melbourne, Australia later this year for the World PR Forum. I am very excited about my presentations at both of these prestigious conferences.
There are several steps you can take when looking at studying or applying for a job abroad, so I would definitely explore these. Also look at some of the internships offered by some of the major PR firms as well – many of them have international internship opportunities as well.
Studying or working abroad is an investment for sure, but the benefits and opportunities that arise from this are huge for professionals presently, especially young PR graduates entering the workplace. By traveling and living abroad by yourself – you can experience another world view and network with some amazing professionals.
Having this hands on experience will give you more knowledge about culture, international practices, and emerging technology trends than anything else – so I highly recommend researching and exploring these international internship and position possibilities. I know I would not be the same person or PR professional today if I did not do an international internship or present at international conferences.
Hope you all are having a great day!