A successful cover letter summarizes your relative experience and expresses your interest in a position. Your cover letter should leave the reader wanting to meet you for an interview. During the writing process, it’s important to use your unique voice, while also maintaining a professional and appropriate tone. Here are a few tips for making a great first impression with your cover letter:
Be personal. Whenever possible, address your letter to a specific person.
Do your research. Know what the position entails and learn as much as you can about the industry and organization you are applying for. Doing so allows you to focus on specific assets that match those of the position you’re applying for and tailor your cover letter to best suit the job.
Avoid using clichés. Employers sift through a number of cover letters with the same language. If you’re able to find unique ways to express your enthusiasm and interest for the position, you’re more likely to stand out.
Support your claims. Relate your strengths and experiences to the job description. This gives your letter substance. It also shows you are prepared for the position and prove your written communication skills.
Use active voice. It’s powerful. It shows your confidence. It keeps your ideas clear and easy to understand.
Proofread. Put your cover letter aside for a while, and then reread it. This is an old revision trick, but it works. You will likely discover grammatical errors and sentences that could be improved when you come back to it. Also, consider having a professor or advisor read over your letter – another set of eyes is very helpful when editing.
Don’t forget to format. Take time to make the letter clean and attractive. Keep the same font and header as your resume, but stick to traditional business letter formatting. Don’t forget to include a handwritten signature.
Your letter is the first impression a potential employer has of you as a professional. Remember, be yourself and let your strongest qualities stand out in your writing.
Post by Ruby Betten, PRSSA member for the 2012-2013 school year. You can contact Ruby through our blog editor at email@example.com
Summer is just around the corner. You know what that means? It’s time to start making those summer vacation plans. Summer is also a good time to advance your skills and take advantage of networking connections and opportunities. Whether you are working at home, backpacking through Europe, or interning for a public relations firm, here are some simple tips from PR professionals on how to have a productive summer as a PR major.
1. Write, write, and write
Writing is arguably the most important skill a PR professional can have. It is important to keep writing skills polished, even when school is not in session. Try starting a blog about your summer adventures, writing in a journal, or creating something as a portfolio piece.
2. Learn a new skill
Without the stress of deadlines and assignments that come with being in school, summer makes the perfect opportunity to learn something new. There are plenty of fun skills that you could learn or improve on this coming summer. Photoshop, Final Cut Pro X, and photography can all make valuable additions to your skills toolbox. Personally, I am hoping to improve my InDesign skills this summer.
Volunteering is a great way to get involved and start networking. These experiences can reveal jobs, expand professional networks, help make new friends, provide career experience, and teach valuable skills- all while working for a greater cause.
4. Schedule Informational Interviews
Informational interviews are a great way to learn applicable information firsthand within a specific field. You might also find out about career paths you were unaware of before, and it can provide great tips on how to fix up your résumé and land an interview.
5. Get an Internship
Last, but not least, having an internship over the summer can lead to exciting things. Not only do internships give you an edge in the PR job market, they also provide valuable experience, networking opportunities, and could potentially transition into a full time job.
These are just a few tips on how to have a productive summer as a PR major. Don’t be afraid to go above and beyond this list! Try new things, learn something new about yourself, and most importantly This is an exciting time in our lives and the future holds many opportunities and possibilities, especially in the increasing prosperity of the public relations field. How are you planning to have a productive summer?
Post by Claire Ion, PRSSA member for the 2012-2013 school year. You can contact Claire through our blog editor: firstname.lastname@example.org!
No public relations education would be complete without hearing about the word “portfolio” at least a million times. A strong portfolio and positive online presence are two important tools for PR students after graduation. But one more way important to catch the eye of potential employers is a blog.
I started my own blog, Coffee and Cardigans, in February 2012. Since then, I have learned important lessons in writing, editing, marketing, business tactics and brand management. I also have a work sample that I can share with employers. As a result, my blog presents a strong example of my interests, my expertise and my personality.
Managing a blog can demonstrate your writing skills, along with any design, photography and editing skills. It also builds upon them if you make blogging a habit. Updating your blog with fresh content on a regular basis also shows your ability to organize and dedicate time to a project.
Blogging is also a great way to expand and enrich your online presence. Add your name to a professional, polished and relevant blog that will be at the top of a Google search when employers search for your online presence.
Blogging can introduce you to the industry where you eventually want to work. Whether you want to focus on public relations in the tech industry or explore financial and investor relations, consider blogging in your area of interest! You can position yourself as an “expert” early, and the research will build your industry knowledge.
A blog also connects you to an online community. The blogosphere is a social place and it isn’t rare to strike up a few friendships while you are there. Networking online can be an effective tactic that can lead to connections in the real world as well. Once you find a niche, research other bloggers who write about your favorite topics.
As a PR student, managing my own blog has been an enormous learning opportunity. I honed my writing skills and voice, developed an editorial calendar, and learned to build and market a brand online. According to PR Daily, writing skills and strong work samples are a must in the post-grad job search. The easiest way for a PR student to earn those skills now? Get blogging.
Any student in the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communications (UO SOJC) has heard the word “portfolio” a million times. Let’s face it… we all know how important a strong portfolio is to post-grad career success. But building a portfolio from the ground up can be overwhelming. Before you get started, here are a few ways create a solid foundation for your portfolio:
These are just a few of the many ways to jump into building a portfolio. Find a subject you’re interested in and let it inspire your portfolio content. But remember: a portfolio isn’t static. Plan to revisit your portfolio often to add new material and refine old content, since staying up to date in this fast paced market is key!
Post by Samantha Hanlin, PRSSA member for the 2012-2013 school year. You can contact Samantha through our blog editor: email@example.com!
Every college student knows how hard it can be to balance a busy life. Between classes, a part-time job, a social life and activities, it’s important to keep organized. Here are five favorite tips from UO PRSSA members on keeping yourself organized during the hectic times:
1. Have a calendar and keep it current. It’s easy to be organized in the beginning of the term, but as the weeks drag on your system can unravels. Professors generally give out due dates with the class syllabus. Take advantage of this by outlining your calendar early. Plan for big assignments and exams, but leave yourself time for a social life too.
2. Reminders are helpful. Whether you place reminders for yourself in your calendar, or use an app on your phone, it’s important to know your next exam date or what’s due next week. Reminders keep you from having to write those awkward “my printer broke” apology emails the morning your essay is due.
3. Have a work area. You need a dedicated space to do all the homework and studying you’ve planned for in your calendar. Make sure your study area is somewhere quiet and free of clutter. Avoid your bed, your couch, or anywhere else you tend to feel lazy.
4. Taking notes is only the first step. Many lectures build off material presented in the last class. Looking over your notes before class helps refresh yourself on the last lecture and prepares you for the next one. Reviewing notes also promotes balanced studying.
5. Buy your books early. Waiting until the end of the first week to buy your books can be problematic. You don’t want to play catch-up during the second week and you run the risk of having to order your books. Remember, rush shipping fees are expensive!
Keeping yourself organized, and doing it early, helps to minimize stress and keep you a happier person during the school year. So buy that planner, download that calendar app and get in the habit of writing everything down. It might save your life during Dead Week.
Post by Katie Keene, PRSSA member for the 2012-2013 school year. She is currently a student at the University of Oregon. You can contact Katie through our blog editor: firstname.lastname@example.org!
To all members, supporters and followers of UO PRSSA, welcome back! I am excited to serve as president in the upcoming year and have big goals for our growing Chapter. The executive board has been hard at work over the summer planning some fantastic professional development opportunities, of which I hope you will take full advantage. Below I’ve listed some ways you can hone your PR skills as well as get further involved in PRSSA.
Join a committee
This year we will be accepting applications for four different committees: Events Committee, Membership Committee, External Relations Committee and NODAC Committee. Joining a committee is a great way to get involved because you will get to know other PRSSA members, while gaining experience in an area of communications that you are interested in. Go to our website for more information on each committee.
Participate in Intern-for-a-Day
UO PRSSA’s main focus this year is to provide you with professional development opportunities. Intern for a Day, a UO PRSSA fundraiser, is just the chance to get involved with local Eugene organizations and public relations professionals. Here is how it will work: UO PRSSA will select a pool of qualified student members to be auctioned as interns in silent auction style. Local organization’s will then bid on a student that would be a good fit for their public relations needs.
Once you have been matched with an organization, you will work on a public relations task that requires approximately eight hours of work. This is an opportunity to design a brochure, staff an event, research a client, draft tweets, and make vital connections within the community. Although we have not set a date for the event yet, we are working to make it happen at the end of fall term. Look forward to more details about Intern for a Day on the UO PRSSA blog and contact me for if you need more information.
Get involved in a national PRSSA competition
PRSSA Chapters across the nation compete each year in national PRSSA competitions such as Bateman, Contiki and NODAC. This year, UO PRSSA will be participating in the National Organ Donor Awareness Competition, also known as NODAC, during which you will create a public relations campaign to promote awareness and knowledge of organ donation among college students.
We will be accepting applications for participation on the NODAC Committee just like we will for the other committees. However, if you become part of the NODAC Committee the real work will begin winter term because the public relations campaign must be completed and submitted for the competition by May 2013. For more information on NODAC visit our website.
These are a small sampling of opportunities UO PRSSA is offering this year. Our ultimate goal is to serve you, the aspiring PR professional and help you gain a better understanding of the industry and your place within it. I encourage you to bookmark our website, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and keep an eye out for our announcements on campus.
Successful involvement in PRSSA is much like the old adage, “you get out of life what you put in.” If you want to get all that PRSSA has to offer it is up to you to attend events, meetings, workshops and otherwise be an active member! I hope to see you all at our first general interest Chapter meeting that will be held on Wednesday, October 3 at 7 p.m. in Peterson 103!