At Yulu Public Relations, we get a lot of students asking us questions about the public relations industry. The most popular question: What level of education is necessary to succeed in the public relations field? Is education more important, or is experience more valued?
We have decided to tackle the education vs. experience debate and share with you our opinions.
Here is what Melissa, our Co-Founder and Principal, has to say:
I know a handful of smart and capable people who have achieved great success through hard work (without a formal education) so I’d say, if you’re a hard worker, you will be fine no matter what you do.
Because I took the traditional university approach, earning my BA degree prior to joining the workforce, I’m a bit biased towards education weighing heavy. Also, because of the value that I personally gained from my university experience, I would probably have a difficult time hiring someone who did not possess a degree. One thing I would ask someone who was considering skipping undergrad to pursue an internship with hopes of it turning into a fruitful communications career is; what if you decide down the line that PR is not for you? Where will you go from there? More internships? With a degree, many more doors and opportunities will unfold throughout your career.
Hands-on experience is also key so what I say people do, if their schedules can afford it; intern while you’re earning your undergrad degree that way you can jump into a career position immediately after you earn your degree. The more internship opportunities you lock down before graduation, the easier it will be to justify to PR firms that you’re ready to start a JOB…and not just another unpaid practicum.
This is what Ashley Letts, our account executive, has to say:
I struggled with this question when I graduated with my PR diploma. I have no doubt that I would still have gone on to have a successful career in PR had I accepted a job offer instead of going on to finish my BA. But, as my degree was something I started working on years earlier, it meant something to me to complete it.
Having a degree shows employers that you have the mettle to stick something out for four years. That said, having a resume packed with relevant experience, be it internships, volunteer or otherwise, shows them that you’re passionate about PR. If having a degree is important to you, by all means go get one. Depending on how you manage your student loans, you’ll never regret it. If you’d rather jump right into the workforce, that’s fine too, just devote the same vigour to your professional development that the brightest student devotes to the pursuit of a degree.
Have a PR question you want answered? Send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org