Four Texas State graduate students spoke to a room of undergraduates looking for advice about this confusing time and complicated decision.
“As I was nearing graduation, I felt like nothing set me apart from everyone else graduating. I had several PR internships, but nothing really set me apart. Dara [Quackenbush’s] senior campaigns class was the first time I was introduced to new media. There was no way to cram it all into one semester. I decided the best way to figure out how to use it all was to join the graduate program,” Smith said.
“Two or three years ago, I was so burned out that it was getting unhealthy. My contract was up at same time that my lease was up, the application deadline was the same week, so I took it as a sign and I quit my job,” Blasingame said.
“Cindy asked me what the hell I was doing,” Shepherd said.
Royal knew he was a good candidate for the graduate program.
“Josh interviewed my neighbor, who was a musician, and I told him it was a great interview. He’s my TA now,” Royal said.
“Constantly brand yourself online. The first thing [employers] are going to do is Google you and see what you are doing. Something I always try to teach to musicians that we work with is to make a solid online presence. Blog, Twitter, Facebook, whatever…you need to have a presence,” Heard said.
“The first thing you should do when applying for jobs is to delete all your pictures from Facebook. It is literally the first thing we look at,” Blasingame said.
When it comes to networking, a lot of students don’t understand the concept.
“Learn how to network. It is important to continuously network with people in your field. When I started undergrad I didn’t understand- I thought it was what you know, not who you know,” Heard said.
“There are no rules, no one really knows how it all works. It’s fun to be part of a start up where people are still trying to figure it out,” Shepherd said.
For those who do decide to pursue a graduate degree, one piece of advice that was unanimous across the board of panelists was to do something at the same time as your studies. Experience is, after all, half the battle.
“Don’t go to grad school and stick to the books. You have to be doing something at the same time or else you’re just walking backwards,” Heard said. “I couldn’t have gotten this job if I was just sitting, reading and writing.”
“A lot of people told us to wait and go get experience. Grad school has opened up even more opportunities that we wouldn’t have been exposed to had we not gone. It could lead to a full-time job before you even graduate,” Smith said.