Employability & Professional Development Statements

Below are answers to questions posed by current and prospective students, parents and/or friends of Baylor University and of the Journalism, Public Relations & New Media department at Baylor University.

Dr. Marlene Neill
Assistant Professor

March 2, 2016

In response to questions posed by the mother of a prospective student:

Here is the projected job growth information for public relations (https://www.bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/public-relations-specialists.htm). We are seeing our public relations and new media students obtaining jobs after graduation, but the most successful students are doing the right things both inside and outside of the classroom while they are here.

It's not just about the degree--that helps you meet the basic requirements for the job--but it's about completing multiple internships, participating in Study Abroad programs or programs like Baylor in New York, Baylor in Washington, Baylor in Budapest (financial aid is available for these programs), serving in leadership roles with Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) and attending national and regional events as an officer (we provide those opportunities too) that will help graduates stand out in the job market. We are sending a delegate this weekend to the PRSSA National Assembly.

Students who attend PRSSA meetings and meet our guest speakers and then follow-up with those speakers after the meetings are increasing their business network, which is helping them land jobs. We have recruiters from major agencies speaking at our PRSSA meetings each school year. PRSSA sponsors agency tours in Dallas and Austin.

We are helping set up our students for success, but it requires some initiative on their part too. They have to take advantage of the opportunities we are providing. I have plenty of success stories to share, but students who struggle after graduation are those who did not make the effort to complete multiple internships while they were here or who did not perform well in their classes.

I keep in touch with alumni and can share some specific examples of where our students are working. We have alumni who are working as CMOs (chief marketing officer) and VP of Communications with nationally known companies and organizations (e.g. USAA and St. Jude's), but they had to work hard to advance in their careers. A degree from Baylor helped them secure their first jobs and then they did the right things to move up the career ladder, and we are proud of their successes.

Dr. Cassy Burleson
Senior Lecturer

March 1, 2016

From the mother of a potential student:

I wondered if you had any percentages to share with me of the successful job placement of your graduates within their field? And what are your thoughts on the future for these graduates?

How much does your alumni group come back to hire your graduates? And their support of them? Do you have well known speakers and professionals in the field coming to speak to your students?

Here is the latest data from BU Institutional Research and last year's placement info. I also encourage you to check out our department's Facebook page, which comes up, "We Are Journalism." It's a day-to-day posting of our life here that includes internships, job openings and departmental special events.

There are undoubtably many excellent journalism programs to choose from, but I believe we have one of the best programs in the nation. Here's what I think makes us exceptional:

First, we know our students--really know them. The JPR&NM faculty all have experiences beyond academic life. Class sizes are small, and our expectations and goals for our students are personalized and big.

Secondly, we have more than 200 paid and unpaid internship sites. Among students in the class I teach, the capstone class in the PR sequence, most seniors have at least one job offer before graduation. At the end of the semester, all students develop a career portfolio that is reviewed by four to five potential employers. Students receive individual review sheets and are then able to make corrections if necessary before taking their portfolios to other employers. Most graduating seniors have at least one job offer locally from this activity. Others who are not graduating often get paid internship offers. We compile the reviews (with names redacted), and this helps us know how to improve instruction in our sequence. One of my students, who will graduate this May, has three job interviews this week at the agencies of her choice: the Richards Group, 70kt and BizCom (all in Dallas, her hometown).

Lastly, we pay attention to the labor market to monitor trends in the profession. As a result, we've developed two more sequences-- New Media and Advertising--and we bring in various speakers related to every aspect of the field. Speakers have included:

  • Robert Davilla, former director of research for Texas Monthly and now director of research for Andrew Harper International (with a client base of those who earn more than $1 million a year)
  • Lyndon Olson, former ambassador to Sweden and recent board chair of Hill & Knowlton, the world's second-largest PR firm
  • Ken Herman, Pulitzer Prize winner at only 23

Bottom line: Our students learn that the more skills they acquire before graduation, the more flexible and promising their job options and their salaries will be. We work hard at Baylor to ensure every student has the opportunity to acquire those necessary skills.