Professional Networking Tool Gives Advertising and PR Students Job Search Edge

A new social/professional networking Web site exclusive to alumni, students, faculty and staff of the Department of Advertising at The University of Texas at Austin is aiding graduating advertising and public relations students in their job search.

AdGrad and PRGrad are social/professional networking Web sites, featuring user-generated content and interaction among an audience with a shared background--their college experiences. The site enables members to publish a profile, join interest groups, upload a resume, post a professional portfolio and share job opportunities. The site draws on best practices from mass market social networking sites, such as Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn, however it is rooted in collective experiences from University of Texas at Austin class projects in media, creative, interactive and public relations.

"AdGrad and PRGrad enable alumni and students to make connections with people who share an interest in media buying, working for an agency or working in a specific geographic location, among other interests" said Gene Kincaid, senior lecturer in the Department of Advertising and the faculty member spearheading the pilot project. "Everyone participating in AdGrad and PRGrad took the same classes and worked on similar team projects. They have an immediate, comfortable common thread."

Through the secure Web site, alumni can locate former classmates and team project members and give back to the department in the form of job and internship leads for students. AdGrad and PRGrad enable students to establish early contact with working professionals to gain an industry perspective, get early leads on internships and ask for feedback on portfolios and resumes.

"I found AdGrad to be a useful recruiting tool when I worked at an agency," said Bridgette Bell (B.S. '04). "AdGrad users had an advantage when applying for the position because they could use me as a referral. When companies are sifting through hundreds of resumes, having the name of an employee gets yours noticed."

"Only a few days after signing up for AdGrad, the e-mails started showing up and before I knew it, I had an interview," said Ashley Huse (B.S. '08). "Literally two weeks after graduation, I started my job with a media research group. It has been great so far, but I still look at AdGrad every now and again just to see what's out there. It really helps to know what the job market looks like."

About 1,500 students and alumni belong to AdGrad and PRGrad, which is free to Department of Advertising alumni and students. A UT EID is required to access the site.

The AdGrad and PRGrad concept was developed as part of several student practicums in the Department of Advertising's digital media and interactive classes. The university's ITS Agile Contracts Team developed the proprietary site through a $100,000 grant from the University Co-op.