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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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_.
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.
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.
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.
Didn’t make it to our meeting last night? We talked with a panel of professionals, including Ian Bragg of CMD and PRSA New Pros and Matt Hollander and Taylor Robertson from Vox PR. Here are six things we learned from them:
Pitching is a big deal. Taylor Robertson said that was the thing that shocked him the most when he started his first job out of college. His advice? You just have to pick up the phone and do it. Be direct and target the reporter who fits the story best rather than “blanketing” the pitch by contacting every reporter you can think of.
Knowing how to use social media isn’t enough. You have to be comfortable talking about the analytics behind your efforts on social media in order to show the value of what you’re doing.
Network constantly – it really is all about who you know. Companies hire internally first, followed by the people they know. Job postings are always a last resort and they’d rather not comb through a trillion resumes. Graduating in the spring? Start doing informational interviews now.
Network even while you have a job. One of the fastest ways of advancing is hopping from agency to agency. Most people only stay in an agency for 2-3 years.
Between an unpaid internship and no internship, take the unpaid one. You’ll be able to parlay that into work soon enough and the experience will be worth it. However, you should never stay in an unpaid internship for more than three months.
The working at a small, local agency: At smaller agencies, you can get your hands on a lot of different projects in your first year. By having to wear multiple different hats, you can find out what you ultimately want to do.
Make sure to join us for our next meeting on November 5 where we’ll be talking with Funk/Levis’ digital strategist Trevor Steele about integrating digital new media into campaigns.
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.