When the PR students’ work is done…

Millions of words have arrived at my front door by post in the past 24 hours – carefully crafted submissions from students, now awaiting assessment by a team of wise markers. 

The towering mountain of CIPR Diploma critical reasoning test (CRT) submissions represents the output from hours and days spent by students reflecting on specific questions set for the CRT (which they have been working on over the holiday period). 

The even taller pile of Diploma projects each comprise 6,000 words (plus appendices) on a topic selected by the candidate – investigating an area of PR theory and practice.  These have involved a detailed review of existing literature, plus original research undertaken in the past months and weeks.

Each will be considered by an expert marker – with moderation of the entire sample by myself – before a selection are reviewed by the CIPR external examiner and the results agreed by the awarding body in mid-March.

At the end of the process, we will pronounce on the capabilities of these committed PR practitioners to reflect their knowledge and level of competence in respect of the discipline as a strategic management function.  But more than their increased cognitive insight, studying should have given them excellent understanding of how to improve their vocational abilities and ensure they are valued both in terms of career opportunities and salaries.

Why else would anyone put themselves through the rigours of studying for a professional qualification whilst holding down a full-time job and trying to maintain a healthy family and social life? 

The commitment involved in studying as an adult learner often seems to go unrecognised.  Companies agree to pay the fees (although not always), but once the cheque is paid, many bosses seem to forget that their employees have to invest much more in terms of time, effort and application to achieve the valuable qualification.

For those who have submitted the project, hopefully this is the end of their road to securing the piece of paper marked CIPR Diploma.  The third of their tough assignments, pristinely urging the marker to reward the sweat that went into its production.

The CRT is the first of these assignment – so for the dozens who have submitted this work, they have a precious few days before receiving their next set of study materials and moving onto the second assignment.

Sitting at the centre of this whirlpool of studying, assignments, submissions, assessment, success, enrolment, studying and so on, it is important to remember the individuals who have opted to improve themselves through the course.

I am fortunate to have worked with hundreds of student PR practitioners over the years – keeping my fingers crossed for their success.  Opening their assignments and reading with eager anticipation that each is a distinction grade piece of work.

Anyone who has been achieved the qualification (regardless of ultimate grade) knows the hard work that is put in, the learning that can be applied to professional practice, and the satisfaction in demonstrating their professional commitment.

So if you ever hear anyone decrying the value of a qualification in PR – point them in my direction.  Let them put their money (time and brainpower) where their mouth is.  There’s still time to sign up for the next course starting later this month – masochists warmly welcomed!!

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Heather Yaxley PhD

Dr. Heather Yaxley is passionate about sustainable careers, reflective practice and professional development. I am a rhizomatic educator, practitioner, consultant, academic and scholar. As a qualified academic, I teach the CIPR professional qualifications with PR Academy and have experience teaching at various Universities. I run the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA) and my own strategic consultancy. I was awarded by PhD researching Career Strategies in Public Relations by Bournemouth University in 2017. I'm a published author, with books, chapters and academic papers to my name.

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