Why half of all PR students will be working at Burger King in 3 years

I was asked to be a part of a University of Minnesota PRSSA event last week. Speed dating for PR folks. It was pretty cool actually. They had six PR pros who sat at different tables and they asked the students to switch tables every 7-8 minutes. The idea, of course, was for the students to ask questions and seek advice from the pros in a more relaxes, non-threatening setting.

I don’t know about the other pros, but I loved it. I’m the guy who would have loved speed dating if it had been available when I was younger (don’t worry–my wife knows this; in fact, she feels the same way!). I shared advice. Tips. Thoughts. But, I dropped one line that I think pretty much scared the bejesus out of a few students.

Half of you will be working at Burger King in three years.

Wait, what?

Yeah, I said that. And I meant it. Not really sure if it’s true (but, according to reports today, it’s actually right on), but the concept I was trying to get across is simple. To get into–and survive–in this business, it’s all about survival of the fittest. And, an insane drive to be the best (and by the way, I don’t mean to impune Burger King here–just trying to illustrate a point).

I see it every day in my business partners. In my clients. In my colleagues.

Those who win in PR are incredibly driven. They HAVE to work in PR. It’s not a job for them. It’s a way of life. There is a difference.

And, I see it in a lot of students these days. Kids just going through the motions. Kids who talk about a rough job market. Kids who talk about taking time off after graduation. Kids who just “want a job.”

Then you meet students like Morgan Hay-Chapman. She’s on schedule to be the next president of the MN Daily (a 30-hour-a-week job). She’s the social media intern at the ALS Association. She’s the philanthropy director for the U of M PRSSA chapter. She’s had internships with the Guthrie Theater and the Science Museum of Minnesota. Oh, and she’s also taking a full course load at the University of Minnesota. Oh, and she’s only a junior.

These are the kind of kids who get jobs. These are the kids who HAVE to work in PR. Anything less is unacceptable.

Want to work in this business? Adopt that mindset. You NEED to work in PR. This industry isn’t for people with weak stomachs.

Remember, those classmates you’re graduating with? They might be your friends now. But in a few months when you graduate, they’ll be your mortal enemies. You’ll be competing head-to-head against them for jobs. And, while we all want the best for our friends, we also want to win, right?

So, in three years, where will you be? Working in this great industry? Or, flipping burgers for a fast food chain? Make sure you’re doing everything you possibly can to remain the right side of that 50 percent mark.

Students: One way you can ensure you remain in the *right* 50 percent? Internships! And, during our next HAPPO Chat on Thursday, April 26 from 2-3 ET we’ll discuss how to rock your internship this summer! Just follow along and participate by using the #happo hash tag.

Note: Photo courtesy of Tek F via FlickR Creative Commons. 

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95 comments on “Why half of all PR students will be working at Burger King in 3 years

  1. HerMusings says:

    PR is a results driven industry. Your ability to deliver is what gets and keeps your clients. Passion and borderline obsession are the skills necessary to succeed in an industry like this. You must eat, sleep and work. If you are passionate about it, this doesn’t overwhelm you. You have no problem rolling over on a Saturday morning to check emails on your iPad. It’s a lifestyle indeed.

    As a member of PRSSA and former executive board member, I can relate to seeing students going through the motions. Many students enter PR with the idea that the industry is events and press releases and are often discouraged by the competitive side of the industry and the not so glamorous internships that come along. Thank you for writing this! It was a much needed wake up call for myself and my peers. I will pass along.

    Emmelie De La Cruz

  2. AlexGuibord says:

    @SarahRigler OMG plzzzzz… not what I want to read right now LOL!

  3. arikhanson says:

     @HerMusings Thanks for the comment, Emmelie. Wake up call, indeed. Just hope it reaches the right audience…

  4. arikhanson says:

     @HerMusings Thanks for the comment, Emmelie. Wake up call, indeed. Just hope it reaches the right audience…

  5. arikhanson says:

     @ginidietrich Survival of the fittest. People get weeded out pretty quickly, don’t they?

  6. arikhanson says:

     @ginidietrich Survival of the fittest. People get weeded out pretty quickly, don’t they?

  7. arikhanson says:

     @tressalynne Just the fact that students are involved with PRSSA isn’t enough anymore. They need to be active. They need internships. They need to meet with local professionals. I see many students now joining their local chapter just to have it on their resume. That’s not a winning mentality.

  8. arikhanson says:

     @JanetAronica  @jessicamalnik The other interesting component of this conversation is the cost of college now (HUGE) vs. the opportunity to find a job that will allow you to eventually pay those student loans down. College is quickly becoming cost-prohibitive–especially when you balance it against lean job prospects. I think we may see the pendulum swing the other way here before too long.

  9. SarahRigler says:

    @AlexGuibord see you at burger king!! HAHA RT: @SarahRigler OMG plzzzzz… not what I want to read right now LOL!

  10. ElissaFreeman says:

    Bold post, Arik.  It’s easy to separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to those who will survive in our industry.  You can’t teach drive and dedication, it just has to be there.  For those just starting out, just know it takes about 3-6 months (or less!) to figure out if your going to last or not.  It’s just not the first impression that counts…everyday you show up for work is a first impression.

  11. jessicamalnik says:

    @elissapr Link-bait headline aside, @arikhanson makes some great points. Necessary for PRos to be lifelong learners and not get complacent.

  12. arikhanson says:

    @jessicamalnik @elissapr Linkbait? Did you read the article I linked to? 50 percent of students unemployed/underemployed.

  13. jessicamalnik says:

    @arikhanson Whoa. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. Your headline got me to read the article. As always, some great points. cc @elissapr

  14. cwilmc says:

    @jessicamalnik @elissapr @arikhanson Phew! Thank goodness I majored in Journalism!

  15. elissapr says:

    @arikhanson @jessicamalnik Those stats are sobering. But I will tell you this: it’s been the same story every decade.

  16. arikhanson says:

    @jessicamalnik @elissapr as a parent, those numbers scare the bejesus out of me…

  17. arikhanson says:

    @elissapr @jessicamalnik but college didn’t used to cost 150K. That’s the diff now. The math doesn’t balance anymore.

  18. elissapr says:

    @arikhanson @jessicamalnik wich is why owning your own agency ensures them of a job should they work inh pr!! #LOLButNotReally

  19. elissapr says:

    @arikhanson @jessicamalnik Tuition doesn’t = job. Networking in school is still important now as it was when I graduated in 19ohnevermind

  20. arikhanson says:

    @elissapr @jessicamalnik Right, but tuition for us was 3K a year. Now it’s 20K. If u don’t get a job, how do u pay that off in 20 yrs?

  21. elissapr says:

    @arikhanson @jessicamalnik No answer to that; it’s a ‘catch 22’; maybe we shld of PR as a trade vs a college degree; cheaper schooling?

  22. arikhanson says:

    @elissapr @jessicamalnik I’d love to encourage my kids to consider PR. But, I’m not sure that’s a wise decision at this point…

  23. elissapr says:

    @arikhanson @jessicamalnik I know! My DH tells DD “be a professional” (dr, laywer etc)…not sure that’s her path, but the $$ are good!

  24. kehanlin says:

    Wow, definitely hit home with this post for me! I am  Journalism/PR student and have been getting discouraged with the seemingly empty job market for the field. I totally agree with you! And, this lit a fire in me that has needed some pushing for a long time now. Thank you for this enlightening and encouraging post to simply chase after and absorb everything I am learning right now to be the best possible employee I can be (hopefully not on Burger King’s payroll :).

  25. kathryn_claire says:

    @KaraPhilpotPR No WAY am I letting that happen!!

  26. thatgirlmegan says:

    @blastkelly very true- you have to make your own opportunities as well as adapt to ever-changing modern needs! great share 🙂

  27. JLggM says:

    @CJPcom I agree. It’s not just PR, it’s any field. People who succeed in what they do were called to it. They work hard because they love it

  28. bberg1010 says:

    @ahitofsarah I know, right? Here’s to hoping we can hack it!

  29. Anthony_Sica says:

    @Layalbrown. I have faith in you Layal!

  30. RyHutchFilm says:

    @vanessaLpowell not you though =P

  31. EverettMartin says:

    @ginidietrich @arikhanson Half of all PR students should never have gone into PR (want to be party planners, creative writers, etc.)

  32. rommel_romero says:

    @ginidietrich Predatory mindset indeed. Preds go for the liver or the jugular first. On exec practitioners, those are: Social. Media. 🙂

  33. ginidietrich says:

    @EverettMartin Or, because they’re good with people. That’s always my favorite one

  34. EverettMartin says:

    @ginidietrich Yes, in their retail job at the mall. Great to be a people person, but PR is much more than customer service.

  35. ginidietrich says:

    @EverettMartin Right?!?

  36. raynozwbxhd4 says:

    @arikhanson At home make #money fast http://t.co/lDlTygRo

  37. MasaButara says:

    @smurnik Hahahahha FDV pa McDonalds pa to 😛 kao 😀 mislim, zakon članek 😛

  38. Allieov6x018o says:

    @marinaapperley http://t.co/5nuyWCEr

  39. Carlenecpwfwk says:

    @nina_raynars http://t.co/HUtWwWLn

  40. nooneywfwc3 says:

    @cwilmc http://t.co/1pznbEsJ

  41. twedtrvje5 says:

    @elissapr http://t.co/lHh9HFcG