A Look at the New PR Major Experiential Requirement
By: Nick Skorupski
Fall 2020 brought an onslaught of challenges to the university, but one bright spot on campus was the beginning of the new Public Relations Major. One of the majors hallmarks is a 250-hour field experience requirement. Whether it is one intensive summer internship or a variety of public relations experiences, this aspect of the degree is designed to bridge the gap between the classroom and real-world scenarios.
Amanda Vasas, an AD+PR assistant instructor and the new public relations field experience coordinator, says these experiences are an as essential component to the new major.
“It’s critical that students are able to put their coursework into action, get that exposure to a professional environment, working under the guidance of PR professionals,” said Vasas.
In the world of public relations, Vasas says hands-on experience is often the difference between students landing jobs and unemployment. By working alongside professionals in the field, students are afforded the opportunity to learn some of the valuable lessons not always taught in the classroom. It also gives students the chance to gain on-the-job experience that will help them avoid early career mistakes when the do land a jobs as new graduates.
Randi Martinez, the Communication Arts & Sciences Career Services director, had high praise for the PR Field Experience Program and what it will do for student learning.
“In Career Services, we always say you should get a lot of experiences,” Martinez said. “Having to do it as part of the degree is good because it forces the students who wouldn’t have done quite as much to get really involved.”
In a time where COVID-19 has made in-person internships harder to come by, students may feel like they need more direction and guidance in their job searches. Vasas says the PR Field Experience Program will help connect PR majors with critical resources to land meaningful experience and help them discover more about their future professions.
Vasas says the program will help expose students to the sub-disciplines of public relations that they are interested in, that you may not be exposed to in an introductory class. Just as PR is an expansive field that covers many jobs, so will the program accept a variety of different kinds of experiences – from internships and PR executive-board roles, to research projects with PR faculty.
Students will also be able to obtain field hours in two public relations elective courses included in the major. PR 493 allows students to work an internship and receive from to 1 to 15 MSU academic credit hours, in addition to having it count toward their 250-hour requirement. Students can also take PR 494, a PR Research independent study course with a PR faculty member for one to eight MSU academic credit hours. The time spent working on a research project as part of PR 494 can also count toward the graduation requirement.
“Getting these field experience hours is so much more than ‘checking the box’ on a major requirement,” said Vasas. “This is how students will discover what they like and don’t like – opening their eyes to career possibilities, and giving them direction as they navigate their time as students and new professionals.”