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
You polished your resume, sent a top-notch cover letter and finally landed the interview for your dream job. Now comes the stressful part — preparing for the interview. Although you never know the exact questions your interviewer will ask, preparing for the hardest questions will ensure that you head into the interview with confidence.
Here are the top five questions you should prepare for:
1. What is your greatest weakness?
This is a question we all dread. However, it is a great opportunity for you to show your future employer how you overcome obstacles. Whatever your weakness may be, make sure to highlight what you did to overcome it.
2. Why do you want to work here?
This is your chance to show them how much you know about their company. Talk about specific project they recently did with a client and how it impressed you. Better yet, share about how you drew inspiration from a campaign they did and used it for a project you worked on at school. The employer will be impressed that you took the time to understand their strategies and reinterpret them for your own projects.
3. What are your goals?
This can be a tricky question. Do you talk about personal goals or work-related goals? The answer is both. Talk about an immediate goal you have—something in the near future such as getting a job at a company that allows growth opportunities. Then talk about a long-term goal such as working your way into a leadership role within that company. These answers will highlight short and long term goals as well as personal and professional goals.
4. What can you do for us that other candidates can’t?
This is by far the hardest question to answer. You don’t want to sound cocky, but you also don’t want to appear to lack confidence. Employers are looking for something that makes you unique. Think about skills and experiences you have that will directly help you solve a problem this employer may have. Then tell them how those skills will help you complete a task.
5. What salary are you seeking?
While this might not come up in every interview, it is important to think about in case it does. Do some research and see what the going rate is for the position. You don’t want to go high and have it disqualify you from the job, or set the bar too low and allow them to pay you less then the others with similar qualification. Be prepared to give them a number and have confidence you are worth that amount.
These barely scratch the surface of possible interview questions. My advice is to research the company and know as much about them as you can. Look up as many interview questions as you need to calm your nerves. Practice them with a friend or family member and remember to take a deep breath before going into the interview.
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 email@example.com.
Photo credit: Samuel Mann
Are you interested in social media strategy and how it is a defining force in public relations? Join the Social Media Club from 6-7:30 in Lillis 162 on Thursday November 20th to meet with social media professionals, Zach Wright and Kris McDonald.
Meet Kris: Kris McDonald currently works as a social media strategist at MMGY Global, the largest integrated travel marketing agency in the world, with clients including the Trump Hotel Collection, The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel and Casa de Campo Resort in the Dominican Republic. Recently, The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel were awarded with Adrian and SMITTY awards for their Google Glass campaign, the first of its kind in the travel marketing space.
Meet Zach: Zach Wright is an Enablement Consultant for Sprinklr. Sprinklr offers the only Social Media Management System that enables global scale for the social enterprise. Enabling brands to innovate faster, grow revenue, reduce operating costs and manage risk. Zach has been working in social media for six years and has worked with large brands such as GrubHub, Seamless, Nestle, Kraft, Sears and Kmart.
Zach and Kris graciously reached out to UO PRSSA to provide tips on social media strategy:
What does a typical day of work look like for you?
Z: My days are a mix of client calls and meetings with technical configuring of the platform for the client.
K: My days are usually very different. Some days I’m grinding out strategies, audits, etc. Other days I’m on the road visiting clients or helping them produce a campaign. Then some days I’m going from meeting to meeting. It’s a great mix and I get to interactive with a lot of interesting people.
How does a campaign on social media differ from other forms?
Both: As social media and end-user activity evolves, the best campaigns aren’t just inherently social or print or broadcast. The best campaigns are an integrated mix of various media. It’s all about touch points. When planning a vacation, most consumers have effectively been through 20+ touch points before making a decision.
How do you pitch social media strategies to clients who think they can do it themselves?
Z: With case studies of successful campaigns and applying it to things that are relevant to that client. You have to make them understand that this is truly the best course of action, and that it isn’t a stand-alone marketing function; it’s a support for the entire company’s strategy.
K: You have to make it relevant to the client by showing them case studies and previous successes. Ultimately they want to know why their money is best served in your hands.
How important is content planning?
Both: It’s important to plan proactive content because it allows all parties involved to be a part of the process from the client to strategic experts creating the content. Timely content will come up and replace some planned content, but it is imperative to always have planned content available. Posting on a regular schedule helps create an engaged community.
Why is social media strategy important in the PR industry?
Both: Social media strategy is no longer used as a standalone opportunity; it drives the entire marketing of a brand. It has lasting power that has been proven with results.
What is the best way to use LinkedIn to its full potential?
Both: Talk to people and engage with them. Connect with real world connections – people you’ve actually met. Don’t just hit connect because it may help you. Hit connect because you have a solid reason for connecting with that person.
Do you have any last tips you would like to share with our members?
Z: Work so hard that your company can’t work without you.
K: Never stop learning. Social media evolves daily. If you want to work in this industry, you better do the same.
Lauren Todd, Internal Events Director, plans internal events for UO PRSSA in effort to build relationships within the group. In her spare time, Lauren enjoys assisting with weddings and staying up to date on the world of pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @Lauren_Todd.
Jen Eisenmann is a University of Oregon SOJC alumna who works as a social media and event production intern for the San Francisco Giants. During her time at the SOJC, she worked as a digital strategist for the University of Oregon Athletic Department and an account supervisor for Allen Hall Public Relations. Below she discusses her experience in the professional world.
Q: What are you responsible for as the San Francisco Giants’ Social Media and Event Production Intern?
A: My responsibilities change depending whether the team is home or away. When the team is home, I help with day-of responsibilities. This changes depending on what is going on at the park. Usually I am responsible for updating our Snapchat, gathering content for Facebook and Twitter, preparing a Run of Show for our social media center, the @Cafe. Since my job also includes event production I will help with any special events going on in the park that day. This can include bringing different groups onto the field for on-field performances, coordinating National Anthems and helping with events around the park. When the team is away, my days are more of the classic 9-5, I have planning meetings and prepare for the next homestand.
Q: How did you get to where you are today?
A: I started working in social media through an internship with The Duck Store. I randomly applied the summer after my sophomore year and ending up getting it. About 6 months after that, the Quack Cave asked if I would like to join their team. After working there the whole summer I was asked to be the lead for football. I tweeted for every home and away football game during the 2013 season. When football ended I took a little break until baseball season started and began tweeting for Oregon Baseball. I was graduating a term early and decided to start applying for jobs in late-January. In mid-February I got a call from the Giants for an interview. After three rounds of phone interviews they called to let me know I had the job. In late March, I moved to San Francisco and started working for the Giants during their preseason games.
Q: Is there anything you wish you had learned or a skill you wish you had spent more time honing during your time in school?
A: I wish I would have taken a CIS class. So many social media jobs these days ask for you to have some experience with HTML coding and I have absolutely no background there. I also wish I would have taken one or two more design classes, just to be more confident in my abilities on Illustrator and InDesign.
Q: What is the most needed skill in your job and why?
A: I think the most important skill for someone who wants to work in sports is flexibility. Things change every single day and it can seem like nothing is going right, but you have to keep going because the game still has to start on-time. I think you need to be ready for really bad days and really good days. You can’t let little mistakes get to you and you really just have to be prepared for whatever gets thrown your way.
Q: What advice do you have for a student seeking a job in PR?
A: Apply for everything and be ready for anything. Everyone says it’s all about who you know; I knew no one at the Giants when I applied for the job here. I was hired because of what I knew. So if you think you are qualified for something and want a certain job, go for it. Don’t discredit what you know.
Be sure to attend our meeting at 6 p.m. tomorrow night in Allen 141 to hear from Jen Eisenmann as she shares her insight with us!
Nicola Hyland, external relations committee member, is a junior pursuing a degree in public relations and a minor in business administration. Follow her on Twitter at @NicolaMorgan_.
Life after graduation can be daunting, but Kylee Plummer has navigated it like a pro. Kylee is a recent graduate from the UO public relations program. During her time in the SOJC, she was actively involved with PRSSA, serving as the 2013-2014 Event Director. She’s now living and working in Portland and took the time out of her busy schedule to share about life after college and her tips for seniors.
Where are you currently working and what are some of the projects you are working on?
I am currently working at Edelman Portland as an Assistant Account Executive working on a mix of consumer and tech clients. Right now, I’m my clients include HP and Travel Portland. Some upcoming projects will possibly include Emerald Nuts and Starbucks. It’s really a large variety! My job involves a heavy amount of media monitoring, measurements, analytics and a lot of writing – which I love.
It’s exactly what they say; you’re never doing the same thing and you never know what you’re going to be working on. It’s very exciting.
What does your typical day look like?
A typical day includes monitoring the different social platforms for brands I’m working with, pulling reports for them on a weekly basis and performing a lot of research. In a typical day (I think at most agencies), there are a lot of meetings. I would say about 70 percent of each day consists of meetings, and I think that’s why with PR you have such flexible hours. You’re always on and fitting different tasks, brainstorms and planning into each day. You could have a somewhat easy day head home at 6 p.m. or you could have meetings most of the day, as well as a few deadlines that require you to work pretty late – but that doesn’t happen all the time! This is just a great example of how varied your days can be in an agency setting. Always busy and always learning new things – but always exciting and challenging!
What has been your greatest obstacle in your new job?
This may sound a bit cliché, but my biggest obstacle has been trying to find a good balance for using my time wisely. This job requires you to really prioritize and manage your time. Going straight into agencies from graduation has forced me to get a lot better at this – so has my planner.
Which classes at UO prepared you the most?
I absolutely respect Kathryn Kuttis, and I loved her portfolio class. She really gets imprints it in your mind that you need to work extremely hard and have interesting, clean materials in your portfolio that help you to stand out or you’re not going to be able to land the dream job that you want. That class taught me a lot; even though it was for a weekend, it really helped to put everything into perspective and I’ll never forget it. The workshop forced me to start working toward a pristine, beautiful collection of work that would eventually help me land a real job out of college. Apparently it worked! Overall, Kathryn is super inspiring and her class helped immensely.
Stay involved until the end because you never know what will make the difference in landing you the job you want.
When did you start the job search your senior year?
I was in the spring 2014 cohort for the Portland Senior Experience so I actually left Eugene in early April to jump in right away before graduation. I started my internship at Urban Airship, a tech startup in Portland, and I was actively job searching while I was there. I knew that I wanted to get into an agency and desperately dreamed of going to Edelman! With that, I started looking into smaller agencies. To recap, it was probably three months before graduation that I really started looking for jobs. Starting early is always a good thing!
Do you have any advice for senior PR majors?Get involved!
Do something! Get an internship and/or get involved in PRSSA and AHPR. It really makes a huge difference. Also, make sure you network like crazy. Networking is honestly one of the main reasons I landed where I am now. Go to events like Portland Paddle; it’s so much fun and you end up meeting the most inspiring, smart, wonderful people. Get involved, brand yourself in a positive way, network, network, network and the rest will fall into place. Honestly, if you work hard and have an end goal, you can do it all. Go for it.
Shelby Nelson, External Relations Committee, serves as a project manager for the PRSSA blog. She is a senior pursuing a Public Relations degree. Feel free to follow her on Twitter at @shelbybriann.
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.
UO PRSSA and Greenhill Humane Society partnered together on Oct. 30 to put on the Ducks Love Dogs event on the Memorial Quad lawn. Ducks Love Dogs allows students at the University of Oregon to “rent” dogs and play with them from 15 to 60 minutes. It’s a great opportunity for students whose housing does not allow animals as well as students who miss their own dogs at home to receive a little puppy therapy. Proceeds from this event benefited both UO PRSSA and Greenhill Humane Society.
Greenhill Humane Society is a local animal shelter in Eugene that saves more than 2,000 animals a year. The shelter provides a safe place for animals without homes and is committed to making sure they achieve the highest level of care. They also make sure that the animals are hopefully one day adopted by a family who best suits them.
Over 50 students showed up to play with the pooches and support UO PRSSA and Greenhill. Luckily, the rain held off until the event was over so everyone was able to stay dry! There were treats, toys and leashes provided by Greenhill for students to use while playing with the dogs. Everyone appeared to have a great time!
Ducks Love Dogs was a successful day filled with fun and ended up raising around $400 to support both Greenhill and UO PRSSA.
Baylie Waller, External Events Director, plans events that benefit both UO PRSSA and local non-profit organizations as well. She is passionate about fitness and nutrition and loves anything to do with animals. Follow her on Twitter at @bayleaf_15.
Didn’t make it to our meeting last night? We heard from Trevor Steele, Communications Strategist at Funk/Levis & Associates. Here are six things we learned from him about crisis communication and digital strategy:
Always expect the unexpected. Be prepared for crisis by doing your research, understanding your audience and what their concerns might be, being aware of related issues and preparing for more than one outcome of a situation.
Details matter. Even the smallest errors make a difference in your reputation and future success. What may seem like a minor mistake could become a liability for your client.
The biggest difference between crisis communication and normal PR is time. Crisis communication is the same; it just happens faster.
Every crisis is different, but every crisis has happened before. However, in most situations, you don’t really have enough time to think about what’s happened before. When handling a crisis in the moment, get as many details as you can. Ask yourself what the first question is that other people will want to know and find the answer. Time and information are the two critical pieces you need in order to solve a crisis.
Be aware of the media filter. The media filter is what the media decides to show out of the information you provide them. Sometimes you have to get around the media filter in order to get your message out.
Want to work in crisis communication? Be a good writer. Writing is critical when dealing with crisis. Train yourself out of writer’s block by practicing writing on demand about topics you know nothing about.
Join us for our next meeting on November 19 to hear UO alum Jen Eisenmann talk about her role as the social media and event production for the SF Giants.
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.
Are you interested in crisis communication or digital strategy? Trevor Steele will be joining us tonight to explore a few topics PR practitioners tend to overlook within the broader theme of crisis communications and digital strategy. We asked him a few questions to get to know him a little better before our meeting.
Q: How did you begin your career in the public relations industry?
A: I haven’t met a six year old who says “I want to work in PR when I grow up.” Perhaps this will change someday, but it certainly wasn’t my original life goal. I worked in professional politics through high school, college and a couple years after graduating from college, during the start of the recession. In college, I studied political science but found that communication studies had all the action. After a few years as a lobbyist, I opted to go into communications full time. I’ve never looked back.
Q: What is your favorite part about working in an integrated agency practicing PR?
A: I love the variety of the work I do and the skills each member of the team brings to a problem. I have an opportunity to work with incredibly creative designers and skilled account managers who bring different experience to the table. As part of an integrated agency, I have the freedom to look at both paid and earned media, and choose the best tool for the situation. This is the biggest benefit of an integrated agency practice.
Q: For students interested in crisis communication, what is one piece of advice you would give them?
A: The “rules” for crisis don’t differ as much as one might expect from most other types of PR, but things often happen faster. The best advice I can give is to come on Wednesday and ask questions. One other piece of advice: train yourself out of “writer’s block.” Writing is the one skill you can develop in school and apply to any situation in PR. Being able to write on command is crucial.
Q: When it comes to social media, what do you foresee its affect on the PR industry in the next five years?
A: Social media touches on so many different areas of an organization. Public relations is in the best position to take advantage of the changes in social media, but it requires an industry-wide approach. Don’t discount traditional media, but look at an integrated approach that blends traditional and digital into what is quickly becoming a “traditional” environment. Note that this is different from social media, which is also critically important. Social media is a little strange in that it is upsetting both marketing and PR, but ultimately I think PR will win out.
Q: What skills do you think students will need to embody when entering the post-graduate world?
A: Flexibility. Be ready to explore different areas with your career, and avoid getting locked into any one thing. That said, I also really want to see students pursuing their passions. At the end of the day, communications is a critical part of any industry and any effective organization. Look for the opportunity to pursue your passion using the skills you have acquired in school. Look for opportunities to continually learn and grow, but don’t lose sight of what makes you tick and what you want to do.
About Trevor Steele
Trevor came to Funk/Levis to help as a political strategist for the Lane Community College Bond campaign. His work to message, galvanize volunteers and implement outreach was an important part of the success of the campaign. Trevor returned to Funk/Levis in 2009 to help work with LTD in doing outreach to key influentials for the West Eugene EmX project. Trevor is heading up our Strategic Digital Communications department focusing on new media and social integration into branding campaigns.
Trevor graduated from Lewis & Clark College with a degree in political science and communications and from USC’s Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism with a Master of Arts in Strategic Public Relations. During his time in Los Angeles, Trevor was hired by the Milken Institute where he developed and ran the Institute’s social media program and developed new digital communication tactics.
Abbie Mulligan, President, serves as the chapter’s resource and mentor, for our members and the executive board. When she’s not in Allen Hall, you can find her helping to strengthen the university’s relationship within the community. Follow her on Twitter at @abbsmulligan.
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.