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Surviving Humber PR.

Update (05/28/2013): I’ve created a FAQ blog post with various Humber PR-related questions I’ve received through this blog about the application process (interview and writing test), the program and job prospects.

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The last eight months I spent as a student in Humber College’s postgraduate certificate program in PR was the most challenging and rewarding experience of my academic career.

After an undergraduate program at a fairly renowned university, I thought that one year program at a college would be a walk in the park. Boy, was I wrong.

I won’t sugarcoat it; the program is demanding. Juggling multiple assignments all due on the same day is common. Your social life will take a backseat to your school life. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll question your writing abilities on more than one occasion.

The big picture was difficult to see when I was up to my eyeballs in communication plans, press releases and issues management documents. But looking back now, the Humber PR experience is tremendously rewarding.

  • I learned about public relations from every angle imaginable: internal and external, theory and practice, new media and traditional media… you get the idea.
  • I’m more confident in my abilities as a writer, event planner, communications strategist, designer and public speaker – just some of the hats I’ll need to wear as a PR practitioner.
  • I became a member of a connected and supportive community of Humber PR alumni. The outpouring of support and love over Twitter from alums on my cohort’s last day of classes was incredible.

And that’s only the beginning. I’m optimistic that what I’ve gained from this program will lead to a long career in the PR industry.

Sarah Dawson, a good friend and classmate of mine, is famous for her motto “sharing is caring”. So in the spirit of sharing as I make the transition from student to alumna, here’s a list of tips on surviving Humber PR for future students:

  • Meet your new best friend: GoogleDocs. With a high volume of group assignments in this program, “Let’s make a GoogleDoc!” is common lingo. Learn it. Embrace it. Love it.
  • Read anything and everything. In PR, it’s good to know a little about a lot. Absorb information like a sponge. Good places to start are newspapers (Humber PR recommends The Globe and Mail) and blogs. I enjoy Mashable, Ragan.com and PR Conversations for industry-related topics. As well, read blogs that you cater to your interests and passions – there are millions of them out there!
  • Network like it’s nobody’s business. In the immortal words of Kalene Morgan, program coordinator and professor, “Be a B+ student and an A+ networker”. In the end, your networks will open up opportunities, not your grades.
  • Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer! Being a Humber PR student gets you some pretty awesome perks. Some of my classmates got to volunteer at events like the JUNO Awards, the Interior Design Show and LG Fashion Week. Seize these opportunities. This leads nicely into my next tip…
  • Consider your USP (unique selling proposition). Think about it: when you finish this program, everyone else will finish with the same set of skills and knowledge. Have something on your resume that gives you an extra boost like special skills or unique experiences. Instead of one-time volunteer opportunities, I opted to volunteer for a theatre company over a span of five months. Due to the longevity of my involvement, I got to do hands-on tasks like managing the company’s social media presence. Needless to say, “experience with social media” became my USP during internship interviews.
  • Most importantly, make friends. The shared experience of this program will bring you and your classmates close. Solid friendships will make the challenging aspects of the program bearable or even enjoyable. In the future, your classmates will be your key contacts and networks in the PR industry.

Prospective students, I hope you found this helpful. Fellow Humber grads, I hope I properly captured our collective experience.

What advice do you have on surviving a PR program? 

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18 thoughts on “Surviving Humber PR.

    1. Stella,

      Nice post,

      I would joining Humber this Fall for a Project Management PGC. Needed a few basic post program experiences.
      How good do you think a post grad certificate is? is it worth the time and effort spent during course? how much did this certificate matter in getting you a job?

      I have got a million question lined up but I would save them for later :P.

      –Filio

  1. I absolutely love your blog and especially this post! I have been accepted into the Humber postgraduate PR program for January 2013 and I can’t wait to get started! This definitely gives me a glimpse of what to expect!

    1. Hi vvernick

      I would really appreciate you feedback regarding the Project Management course in Humber.

      Looking forward you response !

  2. Great post! I start in September of 2013 and I’m trying to do as much research about the program as I can. This was helpful! Hope you enjoyed your internship! 🙂

  3. Great post–I like the thought about the USP. That was something stressed in all marketing courses and it makes a lot of sense if you want to stand out among the rest. Quick question: what was the writing test all about during the interview phase? Any help would be great!

    1. Hi Sonia, they provide you with a question to answer at the interview. The question isn’t difficult to answer; I vaguely remember mine being along the lines of, “What makes you an ideal candidate for a career in public relations?”

      If you have any other questions, feel free to give me a shout via email at stella.hk.lee@gmail.com. Hope this helps!

  4. Thank you so much for this post. I plan to apply to Humber so that I can begin this program next year. They had an open-house recently, but I wasn’t able to attend.

  5. Stella, I have an interview next month and I’m not sure what to expect for the essay portion. I do my best to keep up with the news, but is there any advice you could give me about the interview and essay? Your post was helpful! It’s a good jump start for me

    1. Hi Anna, the interview is in two parts. The first part is similar to a job interview. They’ll ask you questions like “Why do you want to be in PR?” or “What qualities or past experience do you have that make you ideal for this industry?” The second part is a current events quiz where they ask questions right out of the newspaper. I’d recommend reading the Globe and Mail pretty thoroughly for about a week or two leading up to your interview.

      For the writing test, the topic isn’t difficult but I would definitely stick to the word limit they provide. Your writing should be clear and concise as PR writing is NOT the essay writing you might be used to in university.

      If you have any other questions, my email is stella.hk.lee@gmail.com. Hope this helps and good luck!

  6. My initial guess for the writing part would be that they provide a scenario or case, and I would have to write a sample press release for it.

    This was helpful. Thank you!

  7. Hi there,
    I’m looking at doing the PR post graduate certificate at Humber College. Somehow, I just read too many bad reviews about this college and I’m a little worried and skeptical. I’m an Indian resident working right now and I will quitting my job here to pursue this course, in case I decide to opt for it. Could someone tell me their views about the program and if it’s worth the salt? I will have to fund the program based on an Education loan and leaving India to take up this program. I really need some honest opinion.

    Cheers!

    1. Even I am quitting my Job and applying for Humber, brother did u get any reviews about Post graduate degree in Humber, will Humber degree be helpful for a decent job in Canada?

  8. I’m really enjoying the design and layout of your website.
    It’s a veery easy on the eyes which makes it muuch more enjoyable
    for me to come here and visit more often. Did you hire out a designer to create your theme?
    Exceptional work!

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