As a newbie in the realm of PR, it would be best to start out in a PR Firm.
In the book, Public Relations Strategies and Tactics 9th edition by Dennis L. Wilcox and Glen T. Cameron, there is a helpful selection where they compare PR Firm to Corporate PR.
Here are some of the things they stated (pg. 121):
• Fast-paced, exciting
• Abilities get honed and polished
• Networking with other professionals leads to better job opportunities
• High emphasis on tactical skills, production of materials
• Variety. Usually work on several clients and projects at the same time. Possibility of rapid advancement
• Salary traditionally low at entry level
• Jobs more difficult to find without experience; duties more narrowly focused
• Sometimes little variety at entry level
• Can be slower paced
• Same “client” all the time. Advantage: Get to know organization really well. Disadvantage: can become boring.
• Growth sometimes limited unless you are willing to switch employers
• Salaries tend to be higher
There are pros and cons to both avenues. At a PR firm the money would be so-so starting out compared to a corporate PR position. Also, at a corporation I could focus on one thing that I felt strongly about promoting instead of many different things at once.
Nevertheless, I feel that as a college student fresh into the PR world, it would be easier to get my feet wet in a firm. I think that I would be more apt to be hired at a PR Firm then a corporation because I would not have that field experience they desire. I could gain that experience at a firm.
From an outside perspective I think that it would be beneficial to gain more contacts this way and be able to rise and increase more opportunities for myself. At a firm I would be mentored and polished as a PR practitioner to be the best I could be.