Hands-on help to gain pub­lic re­la­tions skills

The Advertiser - Careers - - Education & Training - Cara Jenkin

THINK­ING quickly and cre­atively, a high work ethic and out­stand­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions skills are some of the pre­req­ui­sites for a suc­cess­ful ca­reer in pub­lic re­la­tions.

But not all of th­ese qual­i­ties can be ac­quired through ter­tiary study.

The Uni­ver­sity of South Aus­tralia has joined forces with com­pa­nies in the Ade­laide pub­lic re­la­tions in­dus­try to of­fer in­tern­ships to stu­dents dur­ing their course.

It gives soon-to-be grad­u­ates the op­por­tu­nity to gain the ex­pe­ri­ence and con­fi­dence that will set them apart from oth­ers who are hop­ing to break into the in­dus­try.

All third-year stu­dents par­tic­i­pate in the pro­gram, which runs for a min­i­mum of three weeks and aims to pro­vide stu­dents with the op­por­tu­nity to de­velop their skills on the job, while bridg­ing the gap be­tween ed­u­ca­tion and the pro­fes­sion.

Uni­ver­sity bach­e­lor of pub­lic re­la­tions pro­gram di­rec­tor Dr Joy Chia said hands-on ex­pe­ri­ence was an im­por­tant part of the learn­ing process and gave grad­u­ates a good un­der­stand­ing of how the in­dus­try worked.

‘‘The in­tern­ship is pro­vid­ing an im­por­tant bridge be­tween ed­u­ca­tion, the pub­lic re­la­tions pro­fes­sion and the com­mu­nity,’’ she said.

‘‘For stu­dents, it pro­vides a key op­por­tu­nity to fine-tune their skills and un­der­stand first-hand what it takes to suc­ceed in the pro­fes­sion, while for the pub­lic re­la­tions pro­fes­sion it’s a path­way to de­velop im­por­tant in­dus­try knowl­edge on up-and-com­ing pro­fes­sion­als.’’

Pub­lic re­la­tions con­sul­tancy Michels War­ren and the Ade­laide Cen­tral School of Art are two of the first or­gan­i­sa­tions to team up as part of the pro­gram and pro­vide in­valu­able ex­pe­ri­ence for UniSA stu­dent Chloe Ford.

Ms Ford has spent more than 120 hours at Michels War­ren to pro­vide pro-bono pub­lic re­la­tions sup­port to ACSA – a not-for-profit higher ed­u­ca­tion provider ded­i­cated to pro­vid­ing train­ing to as­pir­ing artists.

Michels War­ren manag­ing di­rec­tor Phil Martin said there were real ben­e­fits for all in­volved in the in­tern­ship pro­gram.

‘‘Chloe has been work­ing un­der our guid­ance on a project for ACSA, which isn’t in a po­si­tion to pay for pub­lic re­la­tions sup­port,’’ he said.

‘‘In this way, the client is re­ceiv­ing pro­fes­sional com­mu­ni­ca­tions ser­vices and help­ing to build their brand while Chloe is gain­ing in­valu­able real-world ex­pe­ri­ence.

‘‘For our part, Michels War­ren gets to work with emerg­ing prac­ti­tion­ers and with clients whom we nor­mally wouldn’t be in a po­si­tion to help.’’

For Ms Ford, the ex­pe­ri­ence has pro­vided her with the con­fi­dence to launch her­self into the job-hunt­ing process when she grad­u­ates at the end of this year.

‘‘It is re­ward­ing to be putting into prac­tice ev­ery­thing that I have been study­ing so hard for – and know­ing I have a great group of in­dus­try pro­fes­sion­als to back me up and guide me through the process,’’ she said.

‘‘As the first-ever grad­u­ates of the pub­lic re­la­tions de­gree in South Aus­tralia, the in­tern­ship has pro­vided us with the skills and confi- dence to em­bark on our ca­reers full steam ahead.’’

The Bach­e­lor of Pub­lic Re­la­tions course teaches stu­dents how to com­mu­ni­cate in a va­ri­ety of con­texts and to re­search the ef­fec­tive­ness of com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

It also helps stu­dents de­velop eth­i­cal and re­spon­si­ble pro­fes­sional skills for a ca­reer at a mod­ern pub­lic re­la­tions prac­tice.

The three-year course is taught through the Uni­ver­sity of SA’s school of com­mu­ni­ca­tion at the Mag­ill cam­pus.

ON THE JOB: Chloe Ford tries out her skills un­der the guid­ance of Michels War­ren PR’s Phil Martin and the Uni­ver­sity of South Aus­tralia’s Dr Joy Chia. Pic­ture: AN­DREA LAUBE

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