Attention junior and senior students: it’s time to start networking! “Building a network” may sound like an overwhelmingly large task, but we promise it’s easy as 1, 2, 3. Follow the three steps below to start creating a custom network that will serve as your most useful (and powerful) professional tool.
Do some digging.
Building your network is an exciting process that requires you to connect with many different peers and professionals. But how do you know whom to get in contact with? Start by doing some digging. Reach out to professors, current and past employers and even your parents. Have them suggest friends or colleagues for you to get in touch with. They could even send a friendly email that puts your name on their radar, which really increases the likelihood you’ll get a response.
Once you’ve put together a solid contact list to work with, it’s time to start connecting with folks. Send out e-mails asking for informational interviews about their business, or even to just meet over coffee. Make sure to do your research first. Collect as much information as possible about what this person does for a living before chatting with them. This will show them that you’re serious about starting a professional relationship – they will respect you for it. And don’t forget to make a connection on LinkedIn too.
After making initial contact with a person, do not forget to follow up. Follow-up e-mails and phone calls will instill a lasting impression on your new acquaintances. Ask about what’s going on in their industry, ask for suggestions on other resources…be creative about how you foster this new relationship.
Remember that you, too, should contribute to professional relationships. Offer knowledge on current industry news, connect your peers with professionals in need of new employees, and generally build trust that will carry your relationship far into the future. Your network will be your new BFF. Treat these relationships with respect, stay in touch, and keep them in the loop with any major (professional) events in your life. The possibilities of where your network can take you are endless – so start building!
What are some ways you’ve already started building your professional network?
Anna Williams, external relations committee member, is a senior studying Family & Human Services. She’s obsessed with craft beer, avocados and everything about Seattle, and is pursuing a career in Food + Bev PR. Follow her on Twitter @annaleighwill.
It’s that time of year! We college seniors are scrambling to submit resumes, obsessing over networking with professionals, and praying we magically land the ultimate “big girl/boy” job that fits our career wish list. And pays $1,000 an hour…in our dreams.
Those of us with internship positions are obviously highlighting that experience on our resumes and counting on supervisors to act as references. But what if the perfect job opportunity is closer than we think? Wouldn’t it be nice to transition into being a paid professional without even having to leave Eugene? Read the 5 tips below on how to turn your internship into a real, paying job.
Interview your supervisor.
Your supervisor and you probably engage in light conversation during downtime on the job. But to be seriously considered as a potential new hire, dig deeper! Set aside one hour to have a conversation with your supervisor that will strengthen your professional relationship and prove you care about a career at this agency. You could ask:
Establish new connections.
Take it upon yourself to network with professionals at other agencies in the area. Paid staff at your internship site probably have these relationships already, which is exactly why you have to show them that you are also capable of establishing a presence in the local PR community. Call around, send e-mails, and set up informational interviews. This will give you a competitive edge against other potential new hires.
Take on a solo project.
Your supervisor needs to know exactly what her intern can accomplish as a member of the team. Start by considering your skill set: What do you bring to the agency that sets you apart from veteran employees? Next, sit down with your supervisor to discuss agency needs. Maybe the company’s presence on a new social media platform needs to be developed, a brochure needs to be designed, or a whole new event planned. Utilize your skills to meet the agency’s needs and…ta-da! You’ll stand out as an essential member of the team.
Immerse yourself in the agency culture.
Make friends with coworkers and take up activities that seem popular around the office. In conversation, bring up topics of interest to those around you. This agency needs to know that you can groove with the overall office vibe.
This might seem obvious, but just ask for a job! Let your supervisor know how interested in you are in starting your career with this agency. She will greatly appreciate your passion for the work this agency does. The worst-case scenario is that you are turned down, and then it’s back to the resume submissions and networking frenzy!
Have any other tips on turning an internship into a job? Share them below!
Anna Williams, external relations committee member, is a senior studying Family & Human Services. She’s obsessed with craft beer, avocados and everything about Seattle, and is pursuing a career in Food + Bev PR. Follow her on Twitter @annaleighwill.
Networking seems to have a bad rap these days. It can be seen as a stiff and uncomfortable situation. However, networking is much more than that. Every day, you can be networking with your fellow students and professors. Here are some tips for networking within our current home, the School of Journalism and Communication.
Network with professors
There is no doubt that we have some of the best professors at the SOJC. They all come from different backgrounds and have different expertise. If you know you are interested in a certain realm of public relations, seek out a professor who has a similar specialty. If not, ask to speak with your current professor or faculty advisor. As instructors, they are here to help you find your way. They also have large networks of their past students who have entered the public relations industry and can connect you with them. It is important that you thank them for their time and advice. Nobody likes to feel used!
Join clubs and organizations
A great way to quickly grow your network is by joining clubs and student organizations. Attend a meeting and introduce yourself to some unfamiliar faces. Keep in mind that networking isn’t just with someone who is older or more experienced with you. Networking with your peers can be just as valuable as networking with a professional. In addition, if you are a passionate member of a student organization, apply for a leadership position when they come available. By being a leader, you are able to work on many projects with a variety of different people. (Currently, PRSSA is hiring a Public Relations Director!)
Participate in the PRSSA mentorship programs
If you are looking for a one-on-one experience, think about joining the UO PRSSA peer mentorship program or professional mentorship program. In the peer mentorship program, you can build a relationship with another SOJC student. Our professional mentorship program, which will launch again in Fall 2015, allows dues-paying members to be matched with a public relations professional. Through this program, PRSSA members are able to broaden their network to reach outside the walls of the SOJC.
Hallie White is the UO PRSSA Vice President managing chapter membership and mentorship programs. Connect with her on Twitter at @halliecwhite.
With fall term coming to a close, winter break is a great opportunity to schedule an informational interview. Sitting down with someone in the company or position of your dreams allows you to gain knowledge that you can’t find on a company’s website. However, finding the right way to ask for an informational interview can seem intimidating at first.
Here are a few tips on how to contact someone for an informational interview:
Research: Before reaching out to anybody, look into a specific company and find out what that company does, what they supported, and recent projects they’ve done. Then think of related questions you might want to ask. This will help to narrow down where it is you want to contact.
Reaching Out: Once you find the person you want to talk with, study up on them. Find out where he/she has worked, went to school, and other work related information. Then think about the best way to contact that person. Some interviewees prefer to call the person directly. This can be done by calling the main number for the company and asking to be transferred. If your phone call is not answered, hang-up. Leaving a message is not best, as the person you are trying to reach does not know you. If they do answer, make sure you have a 30-45 second speech prepared on why you are interested in getting in contact. Also sending an email is a safe bet and allows you to craft your message to make a good impression. As with a phone call, make it clear why you would like to talk with them.
Be Direct: When you finally get in contact with the person and are working to set up an interview, be direct. PR professionals are busy and don’t want to deal with college students who are beating around the bush. Tell them right away that you are calling or emailing about finding a time to schedule an informational interview. Next, explain why you chose the company and that particular person. Maybe you found out that he or she started as an intern and is now working as a manger. Flattery can help you catch their attention and make them more willing to schedule the interview you’ve been chasing.
Although contacting people for informational interviews can seem intimidating at first, just remember that most people are more than willing to tell you about themselves and exactly what their jobs entail. Make sure you have thoroughly researched the company and arrive at the interview prepared with a list of questions. Don’t assume the interviewee will lead the conversation for you, this is your interview and you must take charge.
Have you done an informational interview before? Share your experience with me and other readers in the comments.
Photo credit: Daniel Foster
Austin is a senior public relations student graduating in fall 2014. Austin is interested in pursuing a career in investor relations and financial communication. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The first term of the year has come to an end and the heavy stress of finals no longer weighs on your shoulders. The plans are set, flights booked, and your mom has called to confirm almost ten times. You start to remember what it’s like to sleep in, eat home-cooked meals, and do that thing time never allows for anymore – relax. However, most college students fail to realize all that free time is a gateway to opportunity, productivity, and success. Here are a few ways you can be proactive with your college career over break:
Hunt for summer internships.
It’s never too early to plan out your summer. In fact, for many popular internships the applications are due before the end of winter. It’s better to start now with no homework to do, than in January when the chaos of midterms is in full swing. Also, don’t forget to reach out and make a memorable impression so you’ll stick out when they’re making their selections.
Not exactly sure what field you want to get into? The only way to find out if you will truly enjoy it is through experience. Make a list of three possible careers choices and find out if there’s anything similar near where you’ll be over break. Call and ask if there’s any chance you could job shadow just for the day, and don’t forget to ask whoever you’re shadowing questions. After all, it’s possible you’ll be in their shoes one day.
Start applying for scholarships, now.
Regardless of where you’re at in your college career, scholarships are always beneficial. Not only do they help you financially by taking some of that future stress of student debt away, but they can ease your checking account too. Plus, they’re always a great addition to the “awards” section of your resume.
Create something beneficial to add to your portfolio.
Take on your passion and just let it flow with this one. Videography? Make a video combining your love for shooting and editing with your love for your local animal shelter. Writing? Write freelance stories about things that interest you and see if anyone will publish them. Designing? Collaborate with that girl from high school who just started her own business and design her logo. Be creative and expand your experience.
Learn something new.
This can be a tricky one to do in just a month, but even just skimming the surface of broadening your knowledge can get you closer to where you want to be. For example, my goal is learning how to build a website through Wordpress over break.
And lastly, relax.
Go to the cheesy holiday festival with your family. Watch movies. See your friends and make travel plans to visit them in the spring. Read a book in your favorite hometown coffee shop. Do all the things that aren’t possible or realistic when you’re staying up till 2 a.m. writing that history paper that’s due tomorrow, because after all, the month will go by quickly and you’ll once again be swamped.
What are your goals for winter break?
Brooke Adams, External Relations Committee Member, is a junior transfer student, majoring in Public Relations and minoring in Business Administration. Brooke is a native Oregonian, avid coffee drinker, and music lover. Contact her at email@example.com.
Wondering how to stand out from other candidates during the job search? Welcome to the beauty of an informational coffee date, your new ally in the battle of finding a job post-grad.
Informational coffee dates give both a student and a professional the chance to get to know one another without the stakes of a job on the line. The ambiance of a coffee shop provides a relaxed, casual environment to make a connection before you’re on the hunt for a job.
Use these tips to make the most out of your next informational coffee date:
1. Be up front with what you want to talk about
Be specific about what you’re hoping to find out and why you specifically want to meet with this person. This eliminates misconceptions from the professional’s end and gives you a foundation for what you will get out of the meeting.
2. Come prepared
Do some background research on the professional you’re meeting with and their company to avoid wasting time. Try to find out what accounts they have worked on, current happenings within the company and personal interests you can connect on. Have a list of question at your disposal, but remember to listen and carry on the conversational.
3. Keep it short
Be respectful of how long your interviewee is available for and do not exceed that time limit. Many public relations professionals have long days and tight schedules. Sticking to a time frame shows you respect their busy schedule.
4. Ask how can you help them
Stand out by asking if there is anything you can do right now to help them. Asking this question shows the professional you are interested and care about them and their company beyond just the informational interview.
5. Follow up
Be sure to write a thank you note to show your gratitude and a deeper level of interest.
Remember that an informational coffee date does not guarantee you a job. However, if done right they can get you foot in the door. Coffee dates are also great way to gain valuable insight into the industry while building your network.
Have you conducted informational interviews before? What worked for you and what didn’t? Did any of these tips surprise you?
Karly Tarsia is currently a junior majoring in Public Relations. She is also the internal events project manager for UOPRSSA. Feel free to follow Karly on Twitter at @karlytarsia
It can often be nerve-racking or even intimidating to go on PR agency tours in different cities. You are meeting PR professionals who could potentially hire you one day for your dream job. However, when going on an agency tour, there are a few things to remember that can help you get the most out of it and have an experience that will benefit your future.
Do your research.
Before going on an agency tour do your own research on the agency or agencies you are visiting. Find out what type of PR they focus on, who their clients are and the size of the agency. After some basic research on the agency itself, read over their employee bios to find out more about the people who work at the agency. This will give you a better picture of what the agency culture is really like.
While you are researching, brainstorm potential questions you would like to ask. Think beyond the generic questions you can answer yourself by looking at their website and ask questions that will make you stand out. Also, ask questions that show you have done your research. Mention specific clients you know they have worked with based on the research you have done, not just what they are telling you on the tour itself.
Be professional and courteous.
Remember, the agency you are visiting is taking time out of their busy schedules to educate you on what their agency does. Be respectful of that and engage with the professionals who are conducting the tour. Say, “Thank you for your time, I really appreciated learning more about your agency.” When it comes to networking after a general presentation, remember not to jump the gun by giving them your resume or business card. Unless the moment is right, this will give the wrong impression.
Dress to impress.
It is very important when going on any agency tour to dress appropriately and in business professional attire. It is always better to be overdressed than underdressed. Slacks, pencil skirts, appropriate blouses, blazers and closed toed pumps or flats are appropriate for women. Men should wear slacks with a dress shirt and dress shoes. Blazers and ties are also appropriate.
Whether you have completed multiple internships or are preparing for your first internship, here are some best practices for interns to make a difference:
Being professional means something different to everyone you ask. Exude professionalism by taking your work seriously. As an intern, you may be delegated large or small tasks. No matter the task, appreciate the opportunity your supervisor has given you and complete it with honesty and integrity. Being professional also encompasses sporting a professional image. Your image includes your online image as well as your personal image; the best advice I’ve received about my personal presence is to not dress for the job you have but for the job you want.
Treat Your Internship as a Real Job
While an internship in nature seems temporary, treat your position as a real job. It is vital that you honor the commitments that you make during your internship and self-regulate yourself. Before you start, be sure to research the company and its industry. This knowledge will not only show that you care about the company but also allow you to do better work. Once you build a foundation with your boss, ask him or her about the different business functions you are curious about. You never know — your internship could lead to a full-time position at the organization. The more you know about a company and its culture will help you decide if you would be interested in staying with the organization.
Take your internship in your own hands by going the extra mile. Ask your supervisor and colleagues if you can help out with a certain project or shadow them for a day. Ask if you can attend meetings, if it is appropriate, and speak up during them. By being an active listener and engaged participant, you show your colleagues that you are interested in being a part of the team.
By being an intern, you are surrounded by professionals of many levels and industries. Use this new network of yours to build relationships and ask questions. Listen to those around you; every individual has valuable advice. On the same note, remember it isn’t about you. Remain humble about your accomplishments. Most importantly, say thank you to your supervisor and colleagues for the opportunities they have given you. Even after you leave, be sure to stay connected and check-in from time to time.
Hallie White serves as the Vice President for UO PRSSA. She spent Summer 2014 as an intern at UPS in Atlanta, Ga. Follow her on Twitter at @halliecwhite.
Networking is essential to a successful career. You should already be working to build relationships with your peers and make connections with professionals. LinkedIn is one of the easiest ways to accomplish this, but it’s not the only effective way. So what are other ways to start networking as a full time student?
I just returned from PRSSA National Conference in Washington, D.C. this past weekend. I have to say that this is the “headquarters of networking.” After being placed in a group of PRSSA students and thrown into a mixer with PRSA professionals, I gained some insight on networking effectively.
Here are my top three ways to network as a student:
Demonstrate your skill-base through multiple platforms
Did you know that LinkedIn is not the only way to exhibit your skills and experiences? Not that LinkedIn isn’t effective, but there are other tactics to network. In-person communication has been proven to be the most effective way for others to remember you. By putting a face to a name, people are able to remember each unique personality. On the other hand, WordPress, Cision and Vocus are other unique online databases you should begin developing.
Force yourself to practice
Put yourself in a situation where you will have to make conversation with unfamiliar people and professionals. I know, I know – who wants to use their free time to talk to strangers, right? But it’s a well-known fact that practice makes perfect. Start going to mixers on campus or attending meetings and dinners organized by groups associated with your interests. Even if you’re not good at networking now, the practice will send you on your way to being an expert. Start building your networking skills now, so when the time comes, you’ll be prepared to wow.
Always have your projects and information on hand
If you don’t have business cards, I’d suggest you design and order some. If you don’t have a portfolio of your work, I’d suggest you put one together. These methods give you hard-copy ways to demonstrate your skill set as opposed to just tweeting your projects or publishing your work online. Prepare for the possibility of networking at any time.
Sophie Lair, Finance Director, manages and prepares the chapter’s budget for the academic school year and collects annual dues from members. Sophie is currently majoring in public relations with a minor in French. Follow her on Twitter at @sophielair.
As exciting as a new school year may seem in the weeks leading up to it, that can quickly fade to resentment without the proper preparation. Use these tips to manage your assignments and commitments while making the most out of your year:
Get organized. Whether you love old-school paper and pen or swear by your iPhone calendar app, make sure to have a plan in place before showing up to the first day of class. A planner with plenty of room to write or a multi-functioning app such as Fantastical is key.
Start early. Keep track of important due dates right from the beginning. Professors generally give out due dates with the class syllabus (which is often available on Blackboard before the first day of class). Take advantage of this by outlining your calendar early. That way you’ll know ahead of time when you can take on extra responsibilities or have time to plan something with friends.
Freshen up your online presence. Between sunny vacations and demanding internships, it can be easy to let your social media accounts go dormant during the summer. Take the week before school to bring them up-to-date. Add that summer job or internship to your LinkedIn profile, send out a few professional tweets, and remove the bikini pic from your Facebook profile. Now you’re all set to begin networking with professors, peers and professionals.
Join a new campus organization. Make this the year you go above and beyond by getting involved on campus. Before you head back to school, do some research on the organizations you can join. Whether that’s applying to be part of Allen Hall Public Relations, attending the first PRSSA meeting, or lending your skills to a campus cause, be sure to try something new. You’ll never know what passion or career path you may discover until you do.
How are you preparing for the new term?
Hannah Osborn, Public Relations Director, is a senior pursuing a double major in public relations and magazine journalism. She manages all UO PRSSA social and digital media platforms. Follow her on Twitter at @hannahmarieoz.