How to find a job after college: PR senior has 5 tips

Erin Tooley chats with another student while they sit at a table with an open laptop in front of them
Graduating seniors Erin Tooley ’23 and Whitney Conaghan ’23 have supported each other in their public relations job search efforts. They share notes on making the job search less confusing and preparing for big steps such as job interviews. Tooley has also shared with her friends her color-coded organization system, which made the job search trackable and manageable. Photo by Owen Lowe-Rogstad.

Job searching is terrifying for countless reasons. Whether it is fear of rejection, fear of your own future, fear of making a wrong choice, fear of shooting your shot or any number of reasons, putting yourself out there is scary.

At the start of my senior year in the School of Journalism and Communication (SOJC), it was my mission to make searching for a job in public relations after college as approachable as possible. I wanted to make it a little less daunting and increase my chances of success.

Here are my tips for how to find a job after college in an organized and less chaotic way.

1. Over-organize your search for a job after college.

When you start applying for jobs, you’re instantly buried in details. There are names, emails, forms, websites, job-search accounts, cover letters — you name it. I created a color-coded, comprehensive tracking document that includes names, times, dates, research, contact information, job title, job description, location and other details related to each job opportunity. That way, my future self can sort through what I have and haven’t done during my search. It helps me be a little less overwhelmed when a potential employer reaches out for next steps and opportunities.

2. Be proactive when searching for a job after college.

Several of my peers have been hesitant to follow up with employers or check back with them after sending an email without getting a response for weeks on end. I used to feel this way until some SOJC alumni told me they want you to nudge them. Your email could have easily ended up in their spam filter, or they could have lost it after falling behind on their inbox. Employers are human too, so don’t be afraid to help them out by giving them a reminder!

3. Use your resources when searching for a job after college.

The SOJC has given us so many resources to make the job search more approachable. Whether it is faculty, peers, SOJC Student Services or the Career Center, there are so many people and resources there to help guide you through your job search.

SOJC alumni have been a huge resource for me while going through this process. I have reached out to tons of them on LinkedIn to pick their brains about the public relations industry and how life has been for them post-graduation. It has shown me first-hand how much Ducks are always in your corner. Take advantage of that!

Erin Tooley types at a laptop displaying a color coded spreadsheet
To help avoid chaos and stress, Erin Tooley ’23 uses her customized online job tracking spreadsheet to keep things like contact information, job postings, locations, progress on job applications and more organized. Tooley was inspired to create the multi-tab tool after a fellow School of Journalism and Communication student did the same thing for her public relations job search. Photo by Owen Lowe-Rogstad.

4. Prepare, prepare, prepare.

Preparation is another way I have been able to eliminate a little stress from my search for a job after college. I have prepared for all possibilities by drafting emails, preparing an elevator pitch, coming up with questions about a job, practicing answers to job interview questions, etc. If you can have one less thing to stress about in the future, then do it. When you get the interview stage, research the interviewer’s background, research the company — and research everything in between. Ask friends to do mock interviews to practice answering interview questions. Feeling prepared will only make your confidence shine through to the employer.

5. Be kind to yourself.

Putting yourself out there to possibly get rejected is hard. So be good to yourself and be proud. There are so many people who would rather throw in the towel and not put in the work to go after something they want. Give yourself credit for all the work you have done so far and look forward to continuing to grow in the future. The search for a job after college is exciting. Enjoy the journey!

With over 30 informational interviews done and currently interviewing at several agencies, I can confidently say that because of the support I have received at the SOJC, I feel more prepared and a lot less scared about how to find a job after college.

—By Erin Tooley ’23

Erin Tooley ’23 is a senior at the UO studying public relations and working as an intern for the School of Journalism and Communication’s social media team. She graduates in June 2023 and plans to pursue PR. Connect with her via her LinkedIn profile.