There isn’t really a set formula you can follow to become a communications coordinator, but focusing your education and work experience around marketing, journalism, or business are good places to start. Most companies require a university education, and many schools have internship placement offices where you can look for work in communications or media relations while you’re still studying. Getting a job in these sorts of companies is a good way to get familiar with the work you’ll ultimately do as a coordinator, and can also help you establish a name in the field. There are also a number of little things you can do to make yourself more attractive as a candidate, including improving your editing skills and earning experience writing for business and the media. Reaching out to industry leaders to learn about their jobs and to make yourself known can also be helpful, whether you’re looking for your first job or hoping for a promotion.
Formal Education and Training
This sort of job is almost always reserved for people with university training, and the sooner you can decide you want to work in communications the better. Several colleges and universities offer certificate, undergraduate, and graduate programs in the communications field. Classes in these programs focus on the core skills most coordinators and other communications professionals need to master, and may also provide some hands-on experiences, whether through internship placements or networking events with industry leaders.
While many schools offer majors and degree programs specifically in communications, this need not be your major in order to obtain a job in this area. It is still advisable to take classes in journalism, English, and public relations to provide you with the foundation to become a communications coordinator, but many companies will hire anyone who meets the basic requirements so long as he or she seems like a good fit for the job. Courses in publishing, writing, and editing are also often really useful. Most business studies courses are considered advantageous, too, particularly integrated marketing, consumer behavior, and brand management.
Importance of Robust Experiences
Your primary focus once you become a communications coordinator will probably involve increasing a company's presence or improving the company's public image, so it’s a good idea to get as much experience as you can in advertising or marketing. Most coordinators create material for their company's various publications as well as its website. Doing things like working at your university’s magazine or newspaper or in its events department can provide you with valuable training that will look great on a resume.
Volunteering to organize events or working as an officer in a club could also provide you with the type of leadership experience employers are looking for. Some of the other core job duties typically include planning production schedules, organizing marketing campaigns and press conferences, and planning company events or industry-related conventions. Hiring managers are typically going to want to see evidence that you have had enough relevant experiences to be successful in the communications field generally. Doing all you can to prepare ahead of time is usually the best way to plan for success.
Interpersonal skills, sometimes called “people skills,” are also really important since coordinators interact with coworkers and clients through emails, meetings, and other special events. Most companies prefer a communications coordinator who can balance working independently with being part of a team on special projects. Any experience that you can gain in working with such a team will be further evidence for a potential employer that you are prepared to work in this industry.
It isn’t always easy to find a job as a coordinator right out of school. Many firms prefer or require communications coordinators to have at least one year of related experience, and three or four years of work in more competitive firms. This means that you may need to take a job at a lower status — as an associate or junior team member, for instance — until you’ve built enough of a relevant skill-set to be promoted.
The skills and experience you need can also sometimes be acquired through marketing internships and entry-level work while you’re still pursuing your degree, which can be a way to accelerate your career trajectory. In turn, a career as a communications coordinator can open the doors to higher-level positions, such as communications specialist, marketing or media manager, or director of marketing. Once you have the needed experience and skills, you can eventually work in settings such as businesses, nonprofit groups, or in media and entertainment industries, as well as hospitals, government offices, and universities.
Focus on Editing Skills
Having an editorial background can also help you to become a communications coordinator. Upon coordinating information, the marketing coordinator usually writes company press releases and articles for company newsletters and brochures. In other settings, such as political campaigns, you may also be required to write speeches. Experience with proofreading and copyediting is usually a plus because you may have to review articles or other published work written by your staff. Having a job working at your school's newspaper in high school and college would be an excellent way to prepare for this aspect of the profession.
Benefits of Networking
Many people find that the best ways to get noticed by communications firms is to know people on the inside. Meeting the industry’s leaders is often an important part of breaking into the field, since these people will have the connections needed to advise you on where to apply, to introduce you to other professionals, and possibly even to serve as a professional reference. Simply contacting people in your city or town can be a good place to start, and many are willing to give “informational interviews” to students or other young professionals looking for advice. Attending conferences and industry meetings can also be a good way to learn about trends and meet other people who share your interests.