Blog post,  Communications professional,  Professional development

The importance of promoting communications careers

A couple of weeks ago, the Elm team participated in the St Clare’s College career expo.

You might wonder why. At Elm, we aren’t a large consultancy looking to recruit high school graduates, so why would we attend? It’s a fair question.

To be candid, when the day of the expo arrived, I questioned the value of dedicating three hours of our already very busy schedule to speak with high school students. And so, as I came away from the evening, I was reflecting on whether it was beneficial for us to be there. Would we do it again?

Absolutely, yes.

To provide some context, St Clare’s College is my old high school. Returning there brought back memories, both fond and challenging. But while we were there I could also very vividly picture the difference in the careers expo held when I was a student. Other than the fact that it had significantly fewer stallholders, I distinctly remember that no one there was talking about a career in communications.

Reflecting on my own high school career expo experience, I recall the anxiety of having a double major in English and no idea what to do with it. I remember being so confused about what life after school would look like. Maybe if someone had been there to talk about the communications industry, I may have felt differently.

So despite not generating the most foot traffic, having the most elaborate stall, or having the flashiest merchandise (we did have an impressive banner—see pictures below!), our presence was still significant. Our purpose was to educate high school students and their parents about the important work we do as communications professionals. Talking about everything from what a career in communications entails, the different pathways, and potential roles and responsibilities.

As I handed over our leftover flyers to the event organiser, she mentioned that we were the sole representative of communications at the expo. While it was an honour, it also raised a pertinent question for me: Why only us? Why isn’t communications more widely represented?

A lot of my family and friends don’t really know what I do for a job or what I studied at uni. They know its communications. Maybe something to do with advertising or social media, but that is probably the extent of it. While I think the knowledge around communications careers has grown a lot in the past years with the rise of more digital and social media, I still think there is a general lack of understanding and awareness about our industry and all the different career paths it encompasses. I imagine that this would extend to many students, teachers and even career counsellors, and I think it is a large contributing factor to the lack of representation at such events.

This lack of awareness can lead to misconceptions about a career in communications. Many see communications as a supplementary skill, rather than a necessary and vital function to an organisation’s success. Everyone thinks they can communicate right? It comes back to advocating for our profession, measuring our impact and being vocal about the importance of what we do. We don’t just edit, we don’t just make things look pretty, we don’t just take minutes at meetings. We are strategic partners. We are problem-solvers. We are critical thinkers. We help organisations communicate with their audiences. We tell stories. We help create impact.

It’s crucial for the communications industry to be represented at events like this. Our experience at the St Clare’s College career expo reminded me of the critical role we, as professionals, play in shaping the future of our industry. We need to be proud and willing to educate others about it. By advocating for and representing our field at such events, we help build respect for our profession and awareness of the vibrant and dynamic opportunities available in a career in communications.

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