You've spent at least four years taking communications classes, writing papers and preparing speeches for your interpersonal communications major; now it's time to put your skills to the test. While the job path for your major is not as cut-and-dry as a nurse or an accountant, you do have a wide range of industries as options. Any business requiring interactions with customers, associates or the general public is in need of a friendly face with good communications skills -- and that's where your skill set is in high demand.
Do at least one internship while you're still in school. Some universities require an internship as part of your education -- and for good reason. Working as an intern gives you the hands-on skills you need for the profession, not to mention enabling employers a chance to test your skills before they decide to hire you. If you haven't already planned an internship, talk to your academic advisor about helping you find one. If you're already out of school, it may not be too late -- some employers are willing to take on interns who are out of school, so long as they've recently graduated.
Talk to your professors, professional advisors, friends and family about possibilities for job openings. When you enter the business world, you'll quickly learn that solid relationships can result in opportunities that may not be open to the public. Sometimes, being recommended for a job causes an employer to create a job for you; other times, the word may spread and that person may approach you for a job at a later date. As such, do what you can to maintain a positive relationship with your school associates, professors and other professional contacts -- they may come in handy later on.
Contact PR and communications firms and request an opportunity to shadow a job. Similar to an internship, these opportunities can get your foot in the door and put you in front of the people who may be making the hiring decisions. Since job shadowing is often just a day-long or week-long commitment, some firms may be willing to allow it, even if they don't regularly accept interns.
Mine the job postings for jobs related to communications, public relations, marketing and customer service in every industry, as those are common places for communications majors to find jobs. Also, don't overlook jobs in social work, retail, sales or consulting -- while they may not be the first jobs you'd think of, your skills can be put to good use there as well. For each job you find, send out a tailored cover letter that speaks directly about the job in question. Completing this task requires you to do some research about each company.
Maintain a positive presence on social media outlets. As a communications expert, it's going to be your job to be the voice of a company or organization, so it's going to put you in a negative light if you post attack-style political ads on your Facebook profile, or you whine about mundane details on your Twitter feed. Act like you're already employed and you're trying to do PR for your company -- only that company is you. Keep your resume up-to-date and make sure it's readily available whenever you find a new job.
Start a blog that focuses on tips for effective business communication, and then interview experts in the field about their experiences. Create a weekly "Q and A" session with an expert, starting with your college professors. Creating something like this can establish you as an authority in your field, and can help you connect with people who may be willing to hire you.
Join a local public speaking group such as Toastmasters or the Rotary Club that will give you the chance to hone your public speaking skills, while at the same time networking with other professionals. Remember, it's all about who you know.
- When you're just starting out, don't be afraid to apply for entry-level positions in sales, marketing or some other communications-related field. While these jobs may not pay a lot, they can often lead to other opportunities within the same company; the job as a part-time camera operator at a TV station may one day get your foot in the door for the sales or marketing department at the same company.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.