I was a Sophomore in College at the University of North Carolina Charlotte when I realized I wanted to work in Public Relations and Marketing.
The more I began to learn about the Public Relations and Marketing field the more I started to learn where my responsibility as a PR/Marketing professional would lie in terms of the company I would (hopefully) work for.
By ‘responsibility’ I meant that I had to start thinking of it like this…
That company is the “baby”, the “brain child”, the dream, the vision of someone. The founder of that company put their heart, hard-work, sacrifice, and more than likely, their entire life savings into the one thing I was asking to represent.
Now, why would they ever just hand it over to someone who has never even dabbled in professional marketing?
Right, they wouldn’t!
So, moral of the story: Yes, any real internship is going to want you to have experience. Why? For the reason listed above.
You might ask yourself, “Okay, so how I am supposed to ever get an entry-level job or internship if everywhere wants me to HAVE experience just to GET the experience?!”
Trust me, I asked myself that many times until I started to realize I had more power over the way I showcased my professional skills to a future employer.
So here you have it, 4 simple ways to fill up your resume and portfolio when you have literally no professional experience whatsoever.
Yes, you DO have a portfolio!
Typically, the first two semesters of your college career start with your general education classes. By the time you are a sophomore you should start taking your traditional PR or marketing classes and this is where you start to get your first sets of professional samples!
Tip #1: Head to the archives and shake off the dust! All of those press releases you stayed up until 2 am writing, the hypothetical strategies and campaigns you put together, all of that and more can be great examples of your abilities as a professional.
(Hint: Save everything you put together in your Public Relations Campaigns class, or whatever your institution calls it! Trust me, from rough drafts to strategy plans, keep all of it!)
Tip #2: After your Professor grades and returns your work to you, always take their edits/remarks and fix them. You may not have to re-submit your corrected work to your Professor but do not put it in your portfolio without making those edits. If your professor just slapped a C+ on your paper and called it a day, go to them after class and ask if they had any time to place remarks on the paper so you can make the necessary changes.
Always have some type of portfolio no matter how much you have to put into it. Providing a portfolio to potential employers (entry level or internship) shows that you already take yourself seriously as a new professional.
In terms of your resume, when you have no “professional” experience, segment off a part of your resume to ‘relevant coursework’ and dive into the classes and the corresponding work you’ve done. Hiring managers, whether for an internship or full-time role will acknowledge this effort, especially if they are also semi-recent graduates.
With nothing on your resume that showcases any professional experience you might be asking yourself what is going to make it stand out from the rest, especially from those resumes that actually DO have multiple bullet points.
We have all hit that spot on the resume template with the space for ‘certifications’ and if you are like me, you delete the entire section. Why point out that there is even MORE that your resume is lacking?
Fortunately for Marketing and Public Relations professionals there are dozens of certifications you can get that will really make your resume pop. Believe it or not Google offers 2 free certification courses. Google Adwords is a service offered by Google that allows businesses to showcase their services through the Google advertising network. Google Analytics is a website traffic reporting service that is offered through Google. Both exams are long and hard but very worth it. Hootsuite, a social media management platform, also offers a certification. The ‘Podium‘ course that is offered prior to taking the certification exam is an incredibly helpful course, one that insist all of my new interns go through on their first week with me. Hootsuite offers two certifications, “Social Media Marketing” Certification for $199, and the “Hootsuite Platform Certification” which is $99. Finally, Hubspot Inbound Marketing, the ultimate online marketing certification. Now, the exam is long, but if anything else download the courses as PDF files so you can take your time going through the material, it is extremely informative and a great learning tool.
(Tip: My senior year of college, I did not need to purchase as many books so I used my refund check to fund my certifications. My parents were okay with it.)
3. Start a blog
Starting your own blog will not only showcase your writing skills but it will also showcase how you think in terms of “big picture”. For example, is your blog streamlined and focused? We’re you able to set-up your page to look professional? We’re you able to achieve a brand identity within your blogs design?
You can also use this blog to house your writing samples, design samples, and anything else you want to keep in one space. Uploading a copy of your resume to your blog might also be a good idea.
4. Take advantage of the opportunities you already have
Sometimes the resume building bullet points you are in search of are right under your nose! If you are like me, working through College was a must. Reach out to whoever you can at your place of employment and see if they need any help with their marketing materials. Whether that be their social media updates, graphic design, event management or anything else that you can get your hands on.
The downside to this? You gotta do it for free. Trust me though, putting in the little bit of extra work here will pay off big time when you land that interview!
There you have it, 4 easy ways you can beef up your resume without the professional experience you think you need.
Stay tuned in the weeks to come for a breakdown of the certifications I found most beneficial to have!