Mass Comm Career Panel: Getting that First Job

John's First Job.In another event co-sponsored by the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) and the American Marketing Association (AMA) at St. Cloud State University, the annual Mass Communications Career Panel opened up helpful insights for students as we work towards beginning careers in our respective fields. The panel was led by Andy Ditlevson of SCSU Career Services and consisted of five speakers:

Tracy Carlson, Padilla Speer Beardsley
Bill Hatling,  HatlingFlint Marketing
Dan Schulzetenberg, General Mills
Ryan Meints, G.L. Berg
Lori Jacobson, Carlson Marketing

The first discussion included ways for college grads to get their foot in the door as they work towards finding the job that’s right for them. Among some of the advice dished out, the importance of holding an internship came up from each speaker. Several mentioned having multiple internships as they worked towards getting their first job out of college. One speaker even stressed an internship as being a “critical” stepping stone.

Other tips for getting that first job out of college included volunteering for non-profits, having a mentor and not being too ambitious in your job hunt–though most people don’t really want a sales job, it can be a perfect starting point for a career in marketing. Bill Hatling talked about social media as being a “game changer” and his company is always looking for new hires who understand the trend. The media landscape, as he put it, has changed dramatically in the past decade and it makes sense for students to have a good understanding of new media. This means doing some self-study and finding something about it that interests you. At the very least you should maintain a clean online reputation, but you could take it further by blogging for a non-profit organization or helping a small business with its social media efforts.

On resumes, having good keywords that showcase your skills is important. More importantly though, making sure the resume you submit is catered to the company and the job description. If you feel you can provide the company a fresh perspective in social media strategy, then incorporate that into your resume. However, as Ryan Meints pointed out, having a great resume isn’t everything–he has never even submitted a resume for any of the jobs he has landed. From his perspective, networking is key.

Ryan’s point led to the importance of personal branding. As important as it is to maintain a positive online reputation, having something as basic as a good voice mail greeting is just as important. If you’re applying for jobs, would you want an employer to listen to a greeting that is a simple “Hey, leave a message” in a dull voice or would you rather actually greet your potential employer? My voice mail is simple, yet friendly: “You have reached the voice mail of Eric Wheeler. Please leave a message and your number and I will be sure to get back with you. Thanks!”

Probably the most important piece of advice came from Dan Schulzetenberg: “Understand what your values are.” That simple idea can have a huge impact on your life–whether you’re looking for that breakthrough job or you’re a seasoned pro. Always have strong values and work ethic and life will reward you. What are your values?

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4 thoughts on “Mass Comm Career Panel: Getting that First Job

  1. Hi Eric, I really enjoyed this post! I’m looking for work in PR and Communications myself and I was wondering what you thought about this–could having a blog help me (or anyone else in this position) land a job in this industry?


    1. Definitely. Though I am still searching for a full-time position myself, I have had almost every hiring person I’ve been in contact with mention my blog. In fact, I was once told in a phone interview that the sole reason I was contacted was because of a blog post of mine. So I would definitely encourage you to start a blog. If nothing else, it will further develop your writing skills (which of course is the most important skill for a PR professional). Also, if you take the time to really promote your blog, you will be developing basic online marketing skills, which are all apart of the communications mix. Please let me know if you start a blog–I would love to hear more about you. Thanks for reading!


  2. Eric, thank you for your quick reply! I’m still doing a little research and trying to pinpoint exactly what it is i want to write about, but I will let you know once I start my blog! Do you have any recommendations for choosing a blog theme? As of now, I think a lifestyle blog where I can cover a variety of topics such as my upcoming move to France, news and other articles I find interesting, and helpful tips for recent graduates looking for work would be best for me but I would appreciate any help and guidance you could offer me.


    1. I think a blog on your life would be great. You should never run out of ideas when you’re writing about different things happening in your life. However, if you want your blog to see success later on, a more focused topic would be beneficial. I have the same problem. I mostly focus on PR, marketing and social media, but I also blog about photography, life experiences and technology.


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