The Case for Higher Education: Repositioning Our Educational Focus

For the past three years the idea of higher education and its value proposition has been pushed into the limelight and held under a microscope for further inspection.  Is “an education” worth the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent to add the new title (BA, MA, PhD etc.) to a resume?

More national news articles about students suing their universities and colleges because of the lack of job opportunities has increased and gained media recognition, but are theses students being fair for blaming their schools for the lack of employment prospects?

Well some of the marketing facts do point to schools essentially branding and packaging their “hub of education” as the answer to not only a job but a career with job fulfillment and increased pay. This goes for vocational colleges with catchy ad commercials as well. Each school totes their statistics about the earning potential of a graduate with a degree verses a graduate without one. In reality this fact about higher education being the ingredient for improving earning potential is still true…at least on paper.

According to the Bureau of Labor statistics, those with higher degrees do earn more than those with just a high school diploma but who deserves that recognition? Most schools cannot take credit for the jobs their students find. “I found my first job through a colleague of my mom” says Amanda a recent graduate – this is the same answer received by many of today’s graduates. Statistics prove that 90% of those who are currently employed found their jobs through referrals from someone that they know or networked with. “The educational institution just gives you the qualifying credentials to get the job, it doesn’t actually get you the job says Jessica Luman a frustrated 2010 college graduate.

So what can colleges and universities around the country do to Market their true strengths and give graduates the support they are looking for:

  1. Well we here at YDPR believe in product quality, so make sure you have an answer to this question, What does your school so best? Highlight that and play it up!

Does your school offer attentive deans or professors that believe in mentorship? If you are not a “name brand school,” I suggest you make this your first priority. This serves the university in many ways, students that feel nurtured nurture their alma mater right back by giving financial donations as well as being actively involved in strong alumni networks. This always boosts the reputation of a university (think about increasing your position on the “Best Schools” list).

  1. Promote what the buyer (the student) gets from you the Seller (the school), and that has to be more than just the degree.

As more alternative forms of education continue to gain positive recognition – mediabistro, and some very cool tech online education hubs like code academy and MBA IQ – Why should a student buy your name and your brand without an adequate promise on a return on investment? Former paypal CEO Peter Thiel has launched Breakthrough Philanthropy, a fellowship opportunity for 24 young high school students to pursue a chance to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges. Young minds get to do work and earn experience and money instead of going straight to college. Each fellow will receive $100,000 dollars as well as mentorship for two years. This is obviously still a once in a lifetime opportunity for a very small number of students, but what if more and more companies or philanthropists took this approach to foster young minds and gain effective employees four years prior to when they would traditionally get them? Why wouldn’t more students pursue this option? Fiscally more sound in the long run right? If you don’t think so, prove them wrong!

  1. Build relationships with potential employers for your buyers (again the students…and their parents).

I know college is not selling the product “you get a job,” but that is the implication with obtaining a degree, along with skills and the ability to absorb information. That’s wonderful, but in today’s reality being able to expound on Henry David Thoreau is just not good enough to prove the case for higher education. Smart unemployed people are not able to contribute back to society or to that university endowment.

It is not career services job to spoon-feed students job opportunities, but it is career services job to prepare students so that their odds are favorable. It is important to develop the whole student, intellectually and socially. There is no way of getting around this one, so just build it into the provost’s curriculum plan for the educational year.

So what do you think? We want to hear from you.

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Why another Communications, Marketing, Public Relations, Social Media blog?

We here at Yellow Duck PR are all about communications for everyone. Big brands have their large PR or marketing firms to position them to the public – that’s why they are leading “big brands,” the bustling tech companies have their enormous loyal followers and believers so their PR is in essence their brand as well.

Well this blog is for everyone else, every individual and every company that wants some attention, some recognition, but has a limited budget to spend and can’t hire the PR firm that handles your favorite product’s account. We hope to give useful tips, advice and facilitate conversations around how you can market yourself or your business (or both) on a shoestring budget, or if you are a midsize company or personality, this blog hopes to give you some pointers of where to focus your efforts and help your PR team guide you down the road to success!

We are here to be a resource; to give you funny stories about what’s happening in the world of communications and to point you in the right direction. We hope you enjoy what we have to say.

The Yellow Duck PR Team

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Pointers for Interns, from our very own…

As the summer is nearing its end, so is my internship at Yellow DuckPR. I am happy to say that this experience has made me a more well rounded person in the world of PR professionals. Not only that, but the internship has definitely reinforced my passion for PR as well as my career choice.

Internships are a great opportunity for students to test out the waters of an industry and gauge which direction they want to head into upon graduation.
In a broad industry such as PR and communications, it’s essential to figure out what specifically you like about the industry whether it’s digital media, media relations, event marketing or visual communications.

The more knowledge you have about what specific aspect of PR you really enjoy, the more confidence you’ll have doing your job. With more confidence, the better chance it’ll translate into successful projects.

More than that, interns and internships are a crucial component of the corporate ladder; it’s a two way street. Businesses get the opportunity to teach and mold young minds who can potentially turn into their employees, while students get the opportunity to expand their knowledge, apply their skills and build relationships in the professional world. It’s a corporate circle, if you will.

These days a high grade point average is not going to be your golden ticket to a job. But experience surely will; so be sure to make the most out of your internship.

Here are some pointers:

Commitment
You probably did your research of the company and what it does. If the first couple of weeks of the internship aren’t what you expected, stick it out. Approach every task whether menial or meaningful with a positive attitude. For those of you who have watched 30 Rock, you know Kenneth is the NBC page boy. While he holds one of the lower positions on the totem pole in the company, he loves it with ever fiber in his body. Channel your inner Kenneth and love what you do simply for your passion in PR.

Goals
Obviously, you took on an internship because you hoped the experience would advance you to your next career step. A little bit of reality, there’s no blue print for the perfect internship or a perfect career. No one is going to figure out your next move for you. If you lose sight of why you took on an internship, you’re more likely to not put forth the kind of effort that is expected of you. When you figure out your goals, it’s important to evaluate. Look back at what you’ve learned and accomplished. If you need more feedback on your progress turn to your supervisors. They’re there to mentor and help you along the back. So go on; don’t be afraid.

Questions
Remember, it’s all a learning process so you have to speak up and ask questions if you don’t know something. While admitting you don’t know how to do something might not be the favorable option but it’s more desirable than the latter—failure. Asking questions shows your enthusiasm for the position and willingness to learn, but above that it shows your commitment to your position. Also, if you want to take charge on a project, be sure to ask. Be your own cheerleader and pitch yourself. Your supervisor won’t know if you want something if you don’t ask for it. Asking questions opens doors for open communication in the workplace making business run smoother.

Hope these tips light the way to your ideal internship.

And, one more thing. I’m Iryna Khopta. Yellow DuckPR’s social media intern. I’m entering my junior year at Ball State University. I’m a media junkie, grammar cop and fashion enthusiast. If you have any questions, feel free to tweet me @i_KHOP or email me at ikhopta@gmail.com

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Networking at the Asian-American Business Expo

If you happened to miss our “Introduction to Yellow Duck PR” event earlier this month, no worries! On August 13th, we will be exhibitors at the Asian-American Business Expo.

Asian Americans operate one of four minority businesses and generate more than half of revenue in that same category, notes the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Well if we say so ourselves, they must know a thing or two about operating a business!

This half day event features free workshops in international trade, business development and financing as well as exhibits from hundreds of businesses.

If you’re a start up company owner, this will be a great opportunity to get your feet wet in the business community and also learn from professionals who have already made it.

If you’re a well established business owner, you too can benefit by meeting others with you level of expertise and pooling together to create opportunities.

Come spend your Saturday morning getting to know not only us, but also other business professionals and owners, foreign consuls and potential investors.

Best of all, the event is free!

The event will be held at the Illinois Institute of Technology on August 13th from 9:30 am to 2:15 pm. For more information, check out the event page.

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