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Posts Tagged ‘internships’

July 6th, 2009

PR Grads doing all the right things…

A while back PRChannel published a series of posts on “Advice for the PR Grad“, PR pros from around the world wrote in to share knowledge and give advice to those recent grads just starting out.  This time we sought out a different point of view – recent grads who have followed all the advice, but in this economic climate are still finding themselves ‘jobless’. Here’s a spotlight written by a recent grad finding herself in a jobless situation despite doing ‘all the right things’.

There are endless tips out there from pros helping recent PR Grads take-off on their professional endeavors. Although I’ve done most everything the pros suggest, I still find myself jobless. Some say that if you haven’t landed a position within the first month after graduation, then it takes an average of eight months to find your first post-college position.

Well, I graduated two months ago, and have followed to the “T” every piece advice given to me from various sources in my efforts to put theory into practice. Thus far I have gained several contacts, secured a few interviews, even was a top ten finalist of the MS&L Worldwide Chicago Internship Challenge of 2009, but no full-time job. All (or at least most) of my efforts started back when I first set foot on my college campus; indeed, I’ve done everything from paid and unpaid internships to workshops on interviewing. But my efforts were put into high gear three months before graduation. Here are more details of what I’ve done.

  1. Get involved: Over and over career services, employers and professors will argue that “practice makes perfect.” I’m not perfect but practice has helped me decipher where I want to be in the future. My collegiate involvement and employment background have given me the opportunity to perform various PR activities, presentations—and most importantly—I have worked as a team leader as well as a team member. I completed a B.S. in Public Relations and Broadcasting, but when I declared them as my majors I was unsure what each profession really entailed. Getting involved and networking led me to my first internship in radio allowing me to learn, hands-on, what each was all about. My first internship was during the summer of my sophomore year at a local radio station. I was exposed to every department, including sales, promotions, productions account and even engineering. This hands-on experience started the ball rolling—and I’ve done a total of five internships in both PR and Broadcasting; only 2 were paid. These positions include: Promotions Intern at a radio station; Program Coordinator for a YMCA branch; Public Relations Intern for the Communication Department at NWMSU; Creative Promotions Intern for a television station and Firm Director for a Student-run Firm.

    These internships have helped me narrow down what I want to do. I’ve learned much about the industry, found some of the greatest people and advisers, networked and received stellar recommendations during my internships, but I have not found the position that I want to pursue.

  2. Build Bridges: Ever heard of “make sure to always leave a good first impression?” More than just making a good impression with the people you meet and/or work for, it is extremely important to keep in touch with them—they can be your ticket to a better job. This becomes especially important with the media’s rapid change because it not only shows you stay current with the media but it allows you stay connected to those who you are no longer working for but would like their support and, hopefully, their recommendation.

    I have created several profiles on online networks like LinkedIn, Monster, Experience and Facebook, which I regularly update and make sure they look very professional. I have a couple recommendations on my LinkedIn profile, some are from internships I did and the others of supervisors from the University (Northwest Missouri State University) I recently graduated from. I spend an average of 20 hours a week exploring twitter, LinkedIn, and other network links. Having said that, I think it’s actually knowing who I “follow”, contacting them, and the type of content I post on twitter that has generated such opportunities (including this one! I found PRChannel on Twitter) Through Twitter I have found and applied for a total of ten positions.

  3. Clean and Revamp: Speaking of updating and looking professional, I have reviewed my resume around fifty times within the last two months. I have cleaned it up so that it looks well-organized and, most importantly, so it shows results. I think of it as a cheat sheet for employers; they can see the results of my projects while I was an intern, or as an employee. I also had several contacts, who are all part of the workforce, take a second look. In addition, I subscribe to several different newsletters where I read about how I can bolster my presence online.
  4. Word of Mouth: Talking to everyone you meet and know is the key to networking. I’ve kept in touch with friends who graduated last year for their advice and/or leads as to who is hiring. Through this I found two different companies that I was really interested in and as a result I applied. I’ve found this process to be more efficient due to my friend’s influence and recommendations.I normally request to know more about the position available and who exactly to contact before I submit a cover letter and my resume—if it is through their website. In the case of the positions where I had a contact I will wait to see which method works best for the human resource office, which usually is through their direct email. This is always better than just emailing a generic company email address.

In my research I have also been very flexible about the location of where I apply. I do not mind moving to another state for a job position and I’ve made it very clear in my cover letters and emails when requesting more information.

A professor once told me that in order to be successful in your job search you must make it “a full time job to find a job.” His words remain in the back of my mind, making me restless as I’ve had to get a part time job in order to pay bills and stay afloat—sadly I’m still a “college student” in that sense.


This post was written by Alejandra Alvarez, a recent grad from Northwest Missouri State University with a double major in Public Relations and Broadcasting. She lives in the very center of the U.S. but hasn’t always; indeed, before moving to Kansas City she lived in California for a few years. However, her story starts in Guatemala City, Guatemala. Fluent in Spanish and English, she’s still looking for a full-time position where she can exercise them both. Want to give Allie a job? Get in touch with her using Twitter (@alliealvarez) or visit her LinkedIn profile.

February 6th, 2009

Advice For The PR Grad – Final Thoughts and Additional Resources

Here it is…the last post of our Advice series!  Just a few more helpful tidbits – then a few extra job hunting resources and more places to go if you aren’t completely overwhelmed by now :)

“I’ve talked with many recent grads throughout the interview process. Many are missing solid and relevant writing samples for the position they are applying for – but not having gotten your first job yet should not be a excuse. Rather, grads need to find a way to use and sharpen their writing skills. They could volunteer to write news releases or even offer to write or produce an entire website for a local nonprofit. Or they could help a friend or relative get the word out about their business. The idea is to simultaneously grow your portfolio and find a great first job.” ~ Rachel Hunt DPR Group

“Stay current! The media landscape and consumer behaviors are rapidly changing so I always look for applicants who are up-to-date on the latest media news, familiar with the newest media outlets (both online and offline) and understand what consumers are reading, watching and talking about.  My clients are very diverse but they all value us for being ahead of the curve with our expertise and so I look for people that can bring that same mind set to the team when I am hiring. Let potential employers know that even as a recent grad you bring value to the table as someone in the know and on top of trends. I personally subscribe to a large number of daily newsletters, alerts and feeds to stay on top and recommend it highly as way to ensure you’re always in the loop. “Embrace Digital! The digital media space is expanding by leaps and bounds and any recent grad will surely be spending a huge amount of their career working with digital so it is essential to get involved and get confident early on. With all of our clients we make sure digital is a part of the media-mix and with many we execute digital tactics that go well beyond the traditional digital campaign. An ideal candidate for me is someone who sees the value in digital and is willing to constantly learn, try new things and grow in their expertise. If you haven’t had the opportunity to work directly in digital yet there are excellent case studies, seminars, resources and information online to learn from – and the great thing about digital is that it is changing and evolving everyday and there are no hard and fast rules. I think recent grads actually have many advantages over more senior folks in PR because the industry is changing so much right now. They bring fresh perspective to traditional media and, more often than not, they have an innate knowledge and willingness to learn in digital media. Additionally, success is no longer guaranteed by how big someone’s rolodex of contacts is so recent grads have the opportunity to jump into a more level playing field to make new connections and possibly change the game for all of us! In the past 6 months I’ve interviewed and met numerous recent grads, hired several of them and watched them absolutely kill it for our clients with their hard work, fantastic ideas and willingness to always learn, try and grow.” ~Victoria Shaw VP, Integrated Public Relations | AMP Agency

The public relations professionals we reached out to also gave us several resources that grads can take advantage of during a job hunt:

PR Open Mic – An ad-free and nonprofit social network for PR students, faculty and practitioners worldwide. Kristin Maverick, Director of Communications at CarrotCreative says “It’s easy and free to join, they host events and offer a platform to promote yourself and your skills.” She also pointed us to Path101, a career discovery destination that offers an advice column to connect with PR pros and experts that answer questions directly.

Also check out the IABC Student Connection, specifically the article Adventures of a New PR Professional by Rebecca Armendariz, and Ned Lundquist’s weekly newsletter featuring jobs for communications professionals.

If all the advice we stock-piled still isn’t enough for you check out these blog posts from various PR pros:

What Young PR Pros can do NOW to Help Their Job Search – from Angela Moore of Starfish PR
10 Places to Find Jobs on Twitter – from Drew Gneiser via the Daily Axioms Blog
5 Tactics to Land a Job Using Social Media (Plus Tips to Do it Right) – from Kelly Rusk’s Web2.What?
Advice For Graduating College Students – from Amybeth Hale
Landing a Great Job – Tips for Success – from Vojtech Horna’s Blog CzechPR

February 5th, 2009

Advice For The PR Grad – Be Bold and Creative

In a tough job market it’s more important than ever to stand out from the crowd by being bold and creative throughout your search.

BE CREATIVE:

Andrea Kobylnik, a Bilingual PR pro has this advice for someone new to the Public Relations field. She holds that participation in social media is key for new PR pros.  She recommends: “Think out of the box and show how creative you are! For instance, you can start writing a blog about your area of expertise.  It’s a great opportunity to show you are innovative and that you have ideas that others probably don’t.  Reading and commenting on other blogs, participating in social networking sites, micro-blogging, etc. can help you not only establish a relationship with other participants of social media but also find a job.  Your blog and your participation in the social media speak about you; they are the reflection of your knowledge and originality.  Write every day about your innovative ideas and you’ll see the results!”

You should also think ‘outside the box’ in terms of where you apply.  Zac Rantz, Communications Coordinator, says “One area the new PR people might look would be the education field.  Schools are moving to new technology and those in the PR field might be the right ones to help usher them in.  It could be a part-time job doing the district’s e-newsletter or managing their website, but that could lead to getting your foot in the door when they can hire a full-time person.  You could also look at doing design work on brochures or other informational handouts.  It never hurts to ask.” By considering other opportunities besides traditional agency experience, you may find yourself facing less competition for the jobs that are available.  “There are some amazing jobs available in digital PR (and in the quality SEO firms who need digital PR skills). I would encourage anyone to think about the industry in those wider terms” ~Will Critchlow

Christina Koshzow, Managing Director at Branding Brand points out that “Every company has a different definition of public relations, so remember that some opportunities will not be listed as “PR” positions.  Keywords such as “community outreach,” “media relations,” “publicity,” “communications,” or even “marketing” can often lead to jobs that require similar skill sets.”

“Look in unusual places.  If you know what industry you want to do PR in, search those industry trades/sites for PR jobs.  Don’t just look for jobs in PR trades.  For example, if you are interested in Entertainment PR, scan Hollywood Reporter or Variety for their job listings.  There are trades for every type of business and for some industries like say cycling, you’re not going to get many PR people scanning Bicycle Retailer for a job.” ~Tracy Bagatelle-Black

“Contact marketing and advertising agencies that do not have public relations departments. Often times they are seeking someone, but haven’t pooled their resources into a full-fledged job search. You can also ask them if they would be willing to accept freelance work in the interim.  Don’t ignore the smaller PR agencies (such as myself). There are plenty of us out there and we often would love to hire a recent graduate, but haven’t had time to perform a job search. Often times you will have more responsibility at a smaller firm and build more experience. Do a search in Google for pr agencies in your area and send them a resume/cover letter.” ~Melissa Cassera, Publicity Specialist – Speaker – Author

“Do not discount the importance of small, mid-size and boutique firms.  Everyone will be looking at the biggest firms that get profiled in college recruiting blogs and career services offices.  But the smaller places require candidates to research and find them, and this creates a barrier to entry that many candidates won’t jump.  Look at PRWeek and other industry publications to identify PR firms outside of the usual suspects.  Research those firms — look up the management bios on LinkedIn, put a Google Alert on them and see what has been written about them, ask your network if they know these firms specifically (you’d be surprised how much info you get when you’re specific in your requests).  Tailor your cover letter and networking pitch based on the info that you find and approach these firms.  The market is bad, but firms are always hiring.  You will need to dig deeper and you want to go where nobody else does.” ~ Caroline Ceniza-Levine, co-founder of SixFigureStart

Once you find a company or firm you are interested in working for, make sure you stand out from the crowd of applicants!  “I once had a grad that sent me a box wrapped as an over-sized Kit Kat about a foot long. When you opened the box, she’d written: “Give Me a Break”. Don’t forget what industry you’re in – show your PR colors from the outset.” Joshua Phillips – Emanate PR

BE BOLD:

“Be passionate or don’t bother – In the public relations field, if you don’t like what you’re doing, you won’t be very successful. So find out your passion – through internships and pro bono work – and find a job in the PR field that enables you to express it. If you  really enjoy working with small businesses, getting a job at a huge PR firm in New York or Los Angeles where you’re doing high-end corporate-type campaigns might not be the right fit for you. If you are passionate about healthcare, working for a PR firm that specializes in information technology will not get you out of bed in the morning. Be a Rock Star – The “just calling to say hello” or “happy birthday” phone call, the willingness to meet a client for coffee before your work hours begin, staying late to do one last edit of a news release or proposal – these are the little things that go a long way. There are many people among us who are followers – worker bees who want to come in to work, do their work and go home. And then, there are leaders – the Rock Stars – who make work fun, fulfilling and rewarding. Be a rock star in your organization and you’ll be rewarded in ways you never imagined.” ~ Holly Rodriquez, Media PR Officer for University of Richmond

“Kick the “hopeium’ habit. (Just hoping for a call back!) Make the decision makers notice and remember you, especially with larger agencies. Call and touch base, check in, send a note, thank you notes are a great tool; the more a company is exposed to your name and pit bull attitude the more willing decision makers will be to hire you or help you network if your are not able to fill their position. Or you could do what I did…partner with a friend and colleague to start your own boutique PR firm, make your own job and love every minute of it! :) ” ~Amy Kauffman – Partner Bluebird PR

Jan Bracamonte, Director of Public Relations with Crosby/Wright has this advice to offer.  “In an effort to get a foot in the door, e-mail the head of the PR department (PR Director, etc.) and request an informational interview. Ask for only 10-15 minutes of the person’s time; explain what interests you about the firm and what in particular you hope to learn from him/her. PR pros are more willing than not to share info about their firm and how they got into the business. Everyone, no matter their industry, likes to be asked for their “professional opinion” and to be seen as an expert. Play to this, but, when you actually get the meeting, don’t do a hard sell. Find ways to ask questions that show the person your work ethic and experience. Ask the person at the end of the informational interview if he/she wouldn’t mind if you sent them your resume for consideration for future opportunities. You’ve accomplished two goals: you’ve allowed the PR professional to put a face with a name and you’ve ensured your resume doesn’t fall into the e-mail abyss.”

“My strongest advice is to send your resume with a cover letter to owners of firms that you are interested in without waiting for the company to list a job with a recruiter or website.  Since initiative and proactive activity is prized in the field of public relations, do all that you can to demonstrate these qualities, instead of merely stating that you possess them during the interview.  After the resume is sent, follow up with the human resource department or higher executives at the firm to demonstrate your strong interest in working for the particular organization and your ability to perform  polite, yet aggressive, follow up.” ~DeAnne Merey, President, D M Public Relations

“Do your homework and personalize your outreach (no one – media or businesses – want the template letter; visit their website, find out the type of work they do and how you can complement their services).  Be persistent (in your pursuit) just as your employer would want you to be with your work (emails are not the only way; use the phone, stop by w/resume in hand). It’s ok to be persistent; a tenacious individual is someone I’d consider hiring!  Be willing to pay your dues at an organization – do whatever is required and get a well-rounded understanding of the organization. Be willing to work your way up because employers value good talent and appreciate loyalty! Jumping ship after 6 months when things aren’t so rosy does not build character.  Find ways to add value and breadth to an organization. If a company or agency is focused on traditional PR/marketing and you have experience in social/viral marketing arena, tout your services and know-how as adding something new!” ~Lynn Luczkowski, owner of L2 Communications

February 2nd, 2009

Advice For The PR Grad – Internships

If there was one thing that all of our PR pros could agree on it would be that experience is important.  Grads should have some type of work experience under their belt before applying to their first post-college job.  Get an internship, do some volunteer work, something related to the field…anything.

Here’s what the pros had to say in their own words:

Mike Santoro, President of Walker Sands Communications says “Get experience however you can. PR firms always need interns. An internship is a great way of getting in the door, as those internships often turn into full-time jobs.  Of course, if nothing comes directly from it, you’ve got resume-ready job experience and some portfolio work that will make your next search even easier. If you can’t get your foot in the door at a firm, look to use your skills elsewhere to build that needed experience. You could help promote a local restaurant or theatre. Or help with internal communications at a corporate job. It’s crucial to tell a success story in that first interview so try and get it wherever you can. My firm is actually currently seeking PR interns for the summer” Chicago PR Summer Internships

“If you haven’t already, get an internship with a government agency or non-profit. You will have the opportunity to work on a variety of projects and often have more responsibility than you may get in a corporate environment, plus many of these internship opportunities pay better than entry-level pr agency gigs or corporate jobs. It is great experience that you may not be able to afford to get later on” says JP Clark Regional Communications Manager for Grainger

“The best advice I can offer new PR grads jumping into the shaky job market is to swallow your pride and don’t be afraid to knock on every door, no matter how remote the possibility. When I graduated from college with a degree in corporate communications, I had already completed three PR internships and still struggled to find a job. I ended up calling a regular from the bar I was working at (had to pay the bills!) who owned an advertising agency. He offered me an internship in their PR department, which pained me since I’d already done three internships and now need to make real money, but I enthusiastically accepted and resigned myself to tackling menial and sometimes humiliating tasks cheerfully and thoroughly. And within three months I was a PR account executive running my own accounts. Just keep a positive attitude and be persistent, it pays off. Once your foot is in the door, do everything you can to make a company want to invite you in for good.” ~Katrina Limbaugh, Director of Communications at Zig Ideas

Experience doesn’t necessarily mean Internship.  Mary White, author of 101 Successful PR Campaign Tips and co-founder of MTI Business Solutions encourages grads to “consider doing PR oriented volunteer work for a local nonprofit. This will give you  a chance to get some practical experience to put on your resume, and to get to know influential people in your community.” If you do land an Internship she says to “Treat the internship as if it is your dream job – what I mean is, take it seriously. Act as if you are making a huge salary and can’t afford to lose the job for anything. Work hard, prove yourself invaluable, and make a positive impression in terms of your attitude, skills, eagerness, etc. You just might find that the internship becomes a job, or at least a few terrific referrals that can help you land the job of your dreams. “

Recent grad Jennifer Seeley knows first hand what she is talking about (she nailed an Assistant Account Exec position at RFL) and has this piece of advice for getting that all important experience.  “With this economy and this job market, beggars can’t be choosers. Many of my friends wanted to find jobs in very specialized fields of public relations (ex. sports or entertainment public relations) however, this is such a narrow field, that finding a specific job was impossible for them. At our age, the most important thing we can get is experience in all aspects of public relations.  Applying for jobs/internships is a numbers game…send as many resume’s and cover letters out as possible. If you have a solid resume/cover letter, eventually you’ll build interest.” She also suggested job seekers “expect the unexpected. As cliché as this sounds…what I found myself doing after graduation was the complete opposite of what I had always thought I’d wanted. This wasn’t a bad thing at all; it just wasn’t what I had initially expected.”

“Take an internship while still in college! Employers are looking for someone who has taken the initiative while still in college to explore the field and gain experience. A previous internship will also minimize on-the-job training and allow you to impress your employer with your prior achievements. If you don’t already have an internship under your belt when applying for jobs, your resume will be at the bottom of the pile, because so many other students will already be ahead.  CampusCompare is actually hiring PR interns right now” ~Brittany Burton, Campus Rep Coordinator…p.s. here’s the link to the job

Alright, we’ve established that having some sort of experience is important.  In fact in the PR field it’s closer to a must-have.  So go check out those links to internship opportunities – see what we did there…

But don’t worry, even if you’ve graduated without internship experience Meg Fullenkamp, PR Specialist with Captiva Marketing says its not too late “First, don’t be afraid to do a post-grad internship. My first internship was after graduation at Opera Theatre of St. Louis. It was for 2 months, not much pay, but I learned so much and got to work with major editors at publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Dallas Morning News and more! This internship gave me valuable experience that made me more attractive to employers.  Secondly, don’t be afraid to do more than one post-grad internship. After my time was over at Opera Theatre, I landed a position as an intern in the marketing communications group at Fleishman Hillard. I had applied at FH twice before and didn’t even get an interview. My internship at Opera Theatre made me extremely attractive on paper and I landed the job. While my six months at FH were crazy, it was great having such a large agency on my resume.”

“Take an internship your senior year or immediately after you graduate. This will give you the opportunity for an on-the-job interview. PR firms look at their internship programs like farm systems. The best talent is brought up to the majors. If you cam excel at the basics, you will be considered for a major league roster spot. Work hard. Work long hours. Do what us asked of you and then some. Be a sponge and learn from the jr staff as well as execs.” ~ Donald Martelli CP with MS&L

Last, but not least, we received 2 pieces of advice that were especially relevant to finding a job when the economy is less than stellar.  Mandy Kimmer, Marketing/PR Coordinator for The OC Club also struggled to find a job straight out of school in 1983 and since then has been let go from a few positions because, unfortunately, the PR and Marketing budget is often the first thing to go during an economic downturn.  Her advice is to “(1) get some experience as an intern while in school; (2) be patient and try to get in a company that has potential, but (3) don’t wait for the perfect job – you need to be a responsible adult now and get a job, so take what you can find, and keep looking; (4) send resumes even when employed.”

Also, its important to remember that when very few people are hiring an internship may be all that is available.  Claire Gibbons, PR Account Director and Exec. Communications Trainer at Rawle Murdy has this to say “Internships are one of the best ways to get in the door at your dream employer. Don’t expect to be paid, which means you’ll need a part-time job as well. But, if you come in everyday with a positive attitude, if you are armed with strategic ideas and suggestions, if you consistently look to add value – even if it’s grunt work – when budgets loosen up, they’re not going to want to let you go.”

Next up in our Advice For PR Grads series: Networking

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