Job expectations by PR graduates

Generation Y is joining the work force - a generation that places an ideal work-life balance and self-realization high on their agenda. These expectations have an impact on all departments/units within an organization including communication management. Ulrike Röttger and Janne Stahl at the University of Münster investigated the expectations of students studying for a master's in PR regarding their future career. The findings reveal how companies can position themselves to attract young professionals in the field of communication management.

Key findings

  • The demands and expectations of communication management students reflect the values of Generation Y: a work-life balance is equally important as having career opportunities.
  • Within communication management, young PR professionals are most interested in employee and brand communication.
  • Graduates expect PR departments to have a high level of acceptance within the company. Furthermore, the ideal company should value fairness and collegiality. Working independently is the most important feature of the first job after graduation. After several years of professional experience, a permanent position is the most decisive criteria for the students.

Expectations regarding the fields of work, the communication department & the company

Favoured fields of work

  • 90% of graduates would like to work in the PR department of a company.
  • Employee and brand communication are the most popular areas. Media relations, online communication and events rank in the middle. Sponsoring is the least interesting area.
  • 85% see themselves as "generalist specialists", i.e. specialized in a certain field, but also capable of working in other areas if necessary.

Expectations regarding the communications department

  • The PR department should have a high level of acceptance within the company.
  • The line manager should be within easy reach.
  • Integrated communication should be prioritized.
  • The internationality and size of a communication department are considered less important.

Expectations regarding the company

  • Pleasant working atmosphere (fairness, collegiality, open-minded atmosphere and recognition by colleagues).
  • The employer should have a good reputation.
  • The values of the organization are in line with one's own convictions.
  • Women attach much more importance to both a good working atmosphere and a place of work in a region where they would like to live in the future.
  • The specific industry, size or internationality of a corporation are not as critical.

Behavior during application processes

  • Companies should keep the changing expectations of the generation Y in mind when planning their employer branding. For example, being available 24/7, which is widely accepted by many communication executives, is no longer compatible with the priorities and principles of the current generation.
  • 53% would send an unsolicited application to the employer of their choice.
  • When looking for a suitable job offer, applicants look at the websites of potential companies as well as employment websites most often.
  • Job advertisements on social media or in print media are noticed less or not at all.
  • The expected monthly starting salary is on average €3,200. Men have higher salary expectations than women.

Expectations for the first job and career

Criteria for choosing the first job

  • The most important factors are being able to work independently, career opportunities, and guidance from more experienced colleagues.
  • Flexible working hours and no (unpaid) overtime are also important. A permanent contract or above-average pay tend to be of less importance.

Key expectations for the position after 7 years of professional experience

  • The most important aspects are a permanent contract and career opportunities.
  • Flexible working hours and no (unpaid) overtime are still important.Above-average salaries and management functions are more important than at the start of the career.
  • Expectations of men vs. women: part-time positions and flexible working hours are more important for women. Men are more likely to want responsibility for a team orto hold a management position as well asreceive bonuses.

A career path with ambitious goals

  • After completing their master's degree 63% would like to start working in communications management as a junior manager or as a spokesperson.
  • After 3 years 68% would like to be project manager.
  • After 7 years 61% see themselves as a senior manager, 25% as a head of a communication department.
  • Men are much more ambitious than women.


  • Salary should be approx. 3200 Euros per month on average.

The values of the Generation Y

It comes as no surprise that the values commonly described as important for the Generation Y are also of great importance for the master's students we surveyed:

  • A good standard of living, a profession that is fun and a positive working atmosphere are of most importance.
  • Finding a balance between their work and personal lives is extremely important for students.
  • Generation Y does not want to choose between a work-life balance, job security, good pay and career options - they want to reconcile these aspects.
  • As far as jobs are concerned, the most important aspect for students in the mid and long term is a permanent contract. Furthermore, the job should allow them to learn something new and to assume managerial responsibilities. With regards to the company, the future graduates value fair and collegial teamwork. An open climate and a good corporate culture are also important to them.


A total of 207 students who are enrolled in one of the currently 13 full-time master's degree courses focusing on Public Relations/Communication Management in Germany were surveyed online. The study assessed aspects such as expectations regarding the future job and company as well as personal career goals and behavior during the application process.

Scientific background

  • Originally, public relations were understood as a profession for which talent was more important than a specific training. It was not until the 1970s that the PR education started to become institutionalized.
  • The Bologna reform strongly promoted the development of university education. In 2012, there was a total of fifteen full-time PR courses in Germany.
  • Studies on the career expectations of communication management students were primarily conducted in the USA. In Germany only one similar study was previously published by Prof. Dr. Romy Fröhlich at the University of Munich. The results of Fröhlich's survey showed that German graduates expected an initial monthly salary of around €2,200 and the first promotion after three and a half years. Companies were the most popular type of organization.

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