Getting the most out of not working in communications

Nancy Anderson
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Let's start with the premise that you have a degree in communications, marketing or public relations and are itching to get your first job. What do you do when you've perused communications jobs listings and don't seem to be getting the number of interviews that you want?

You could bemoan the industry, bemoan the economy, or you could take a shot at trying to build work experience through a few less-explored options in communications, namely freelancing and political campaign work. Let's explore why they could be worth your time:

Politics and Name Recognition

Politicians have been making the airwaves for months now, and the midterm election is prime ground for Democrats trying to hold the seats they gained in 2008 and for Republicans to make some improvements during this electoral cycle.

If your goal is to get noticed by prospective employers, you can certainly call the campaign offices of your nearest candidate and ask what you can do to help. It likely won't be paid, but it will get you clips and experience in a boiler room atmosphere that isn't present in most other short-term operations. Best of all, by January when firms are looking to hire, you'll be fresh off your campaign with real world experience and the availability to work.

Freelance and Going Your Own Way

Freelancers can sometimes be looked down upon in the ad agencies, since you can often see "agency experience recommended" in a number of communications jobs ads. But if you don't have the contacts to network, there are few reliable indicators that you can do what your resume says than actual evidence.

And that means considering the possibility of freelancing for smaller clients to build up your book. There are a number of websites that offer freelance possibilities for communications sector employees-to-be, but the simplest and potentially most fruitful avenue is simply your local paper.

Find an ad that you think you can do better, write up a sample of ways to improve it, and then call up the office of the company that placed the advertisement. Ask to speak to a person in charge and see if they'll talk to you, then pitch your idea.

Getting to work, your own way

The job market is difficult, and people with years of experience are trying to keep their own jobs. Finding ways to fill in the cracks with freelance and political campaign work can keep your skills fresh and give you valuable samples. Best of all, it expands your contact book of potential employers or clients.

[Image courtesy whereisthered08 via Flickr]

By: John Curran

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