By Talia Smith
Last year I was living in Portland, dead in the middle of a PR internship search. I applied to companies of all sizes – large corporations such as Edelman, midsize agencies such as Matter Communications, and small, boutique firms where I found the most success. When I shifted my attention to smaller firms, I noticed actual people were picking up my phone calls and responding to my emails.
Three interviews later, I landed an internship at Veracity. The boutique PR firm is owned by Amy and Mike Rosenberg, both UO alums. Their quaint office is tucked away in the stylish Bakery Building in Northeast Portland. For six months, I worked side by side with Amy and Mike, trying to soak up their knowledge about the field of PR.
One of the many things I learned during my internship is bigger is not always better when it comes to employment. I encourage anyone in my similar situation to seek out a boutique PR firm to intern. Here are four reasons why:
You can create meaningful relationships with your mentors.
When you work closely with your employers, you can’t help but get to know them on a deeper level than you otherwise would at a large agency. You have an ability to shine and be seen since, well, there are not as many people in your way. At a large firm, you won’t have the ability to interact with the president of the company on a daily basis. After producing good work and proving yourself to be a valuable intern, you can be assured that you will always have a great reference, letter of recommendation and networking connection. It is wonderful to have someone you can count on to speak highly of you.
There is a likely chance your internship will turn into a job.
All the lovey-dovey stuff aside, PR firms invest a lot of time and energy into their interns and they want a return on their investment. It is in their best interest to hire someone full-time who already knows the ropes of the company. Why would they want to hire someone in need of training when they could hire someone who has already been trained? Larger firms have more funds to test out interns whereas small firms won’t take on anyone who they can’t see working at the company in the future.
You might work directly with clients and media.
With the intimacy of a boutique PR firm comes trust and responsibility when it comes to client and media relations. You cannot necessarily say the same of an entry level position at a large firm. There is no better way to tighten up your email and phone etiquette than calling up a client or reporter on a regular basis.
When you communicate with reporters regularly, you create media relations that carry with you to your next job. Reporters tend to pick up press releases from familiar writers who take the time to understand their beat. A large portion of my internship was customizing emails and matching press releases to the right reporters. At larger firms, media relations can turn into spam at times with automated email pitches. Learning the essential skill of client and media communication is valuable.
You will have the opportunity to create tons of portfolio pieces.
Nothing looks better in a portfolio than an actual writing sample used by a client. In smaller firms, there is plenty of work to go around and a lot of it will fall on you. There is a good chance that you will have the opportunity to write pieces that end up in newspapers, magazines, blogs or social media posts. The work you produce is real and holds weight in a portfolio over something written for a school project. There is more work to dish out to other people in larger agencies but you have to be more of a jack-of-all-trades in a boutique firm – the result will be an array of diverse profile pieces.
As you’re starting to think about summer internships, I recommend starting your search with boutique PR firms. Be aware that many small firms do not post internships online – it’s up to you to create your own position and pitch yourself. This is really only a possibility at boutique firms.
Start by researching and making a list of the firms in your area then give them a call. Once you get someone on the phone, ask if they would be interested in hosting an intern. Practice your pitch and make it direct. Either they will say no and you can move on to the next firm on your list or they will say yes and ask you to send your resume. Make sure to remember the name of the person you spoke with on the phone.
Take some time to research the firm and create a customized cover letter. Then compose an email saying, “Hi, I spoke to so and so on the phone and they told me your firm might be interested in hosting an intern.” Attach your cover letter and resume and wait for a reply email or phone call. I guarantee, there will be a few firms who never invited the possibility of hosting an intern until it was presented to them. Who doesn’t need extra help and cheap labor?
Take control of your internship search by narrowing your choices to the boutique PR firms in your area. It worked for me and it will work for you too. The skills and hands-on experience you will gain in a boutique PR firm could land you a job with the company or act as a stepping stone to your next exciting career move. You know what they say: good things come in small packages.
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.
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.
You landed the internship position, worked hard for months to gain valuable work experience and built up your resume. The hard part is over, right? Actually, there’s a lot you can do even after your internship ends to make the most of the experience. From maintaining your professional network to including your new experience on your resume, here are the post-internship dos and don’ts.
Do send a thank you note
As your internship comes to a close, make sure to send each person you worked with a handwritten thank you note. Recognizing the people you worked with is the first step in maintaining a relationship after the internship is over. Be sure to tell each person exactly what you appreciated about him or her. From the person who helped you complete a certain project to the person who made you feel included ¾ who doesn’t love getting a thank you note?
Do keep in touch
The people you work with at an internship are valuable contacts to have. They can become references and even mentors, letting you know of job opportunities and putting in a good word for you. Stay in touch with fellow interns, coworkers and managers by connecting with them on social media, especially on LinkedIn. Check in with your old coworkers every few months to see how things have been going since you left. Keep informed on what the company has been up to and congratulate former colleagues when they launch a new program or win an award. Your former manager is rooting for you to succeed so let him or her know what you’ve accomplished since you left. If you come across an article you think a former coworker or manager would be interested in, don’t be afraid to pass it along!
Do ask for a letter of recommendation
You never know what personnel changes might happen after you finish your internship. The last thing you would want is to need a letter of recommendation and not be able to get in touch. Asking now will save both of you time and stress. Plus, it’s always better to have them write about your contributions while your time there is still fresh in their minds. By asking for a letter of recommendation, even if you don’t need it right away, you’re setting the stage to call for a reference later.
Don’t burn any bridges
Not all internship experiences are positive ones. If you are disappointed with your experience for whatever reason ¾ maybe your supervisor took you for granted or your duties lacked educational value ¾ refrain from sharing your feelings on social media or in another job interview. Give your honest feedback in an exit interview or send an email to your internship manager, but keep it constructive. You never know when you might need a reference, so be sure not to leave on a negative note.
On the other hand, maybe you had a fabulous internship experience and think your supervisor is your new best friend. It may seem like once the internship is over, you can be free to let your walls down, but be careful to keep any relationships you’ve formed professional. Don’t go to a bar with coworkers and get drunk. Don’t friend your former employer on Facebook if you’re going to be posting scandalous party pictures. Don’t publicly engage in an inappropriate conversation on social media.
Don’t lie about your experience
When you’re including your internship in your resume, it can be tempting to exaggerate your roles here and there. Although you want to put your experience in a positive light, even if you spent most of your time fetching coffee or filing papers, make sure you’re still being honest about what you did. Focus on results you achieved, rather than your day-to-day tasks in order to better convey your value.
What have you done to make the most of an internship even after it’s over? Let us know by leaving a comment.
Landing an interview is the most exciting and nerve racking experience in a new graduate’s life. In this day and age, we face extreme competition not only from our classmates but also from kids across the country. This is why it is important to do your homework before heading into an interview. Here are a few tips to impress an employer at your next interview:
Research. You should never underestimate the importance of research. Your insight will show your employer that you have come to the interview prepared. Most importantly, it will demonstrate your ability to problem solve and give them confidence that you can complete assigned tasks.
Bring Questions. Have at least five questions written down that you can refer to in case they slip your mind. Make sure your questions show you looked into the company and you have a good understanding of how the company operates. Something you might ask is, “I see that your company’s motto is … can you explain to me how that is seen in day to day operations?” This will show that you have done your research and that you are assessing whether or not this company is right for you.
Take a deep breath. Everyone knows that interviews are scary and stressful, but you want to appear calm and collected. Deep breaths help to calm you down so you can think more clearly, and a calm demeanor will show confidence in your abilities.
Send a thank you note. It may sound old school, but it is always good to follow up with a hand written thank you note after the interview. Thank you notes show you appreciate the opportunity to interview and handwritten notes will set you apart from other candidates. Start off your letter by thanking the employer for taking time to meet with you. Then in the body talk about things you learned from the interview and referring to your relevant skills. Conclude by thanking them again and encouraging them to contact you if any questions arise.
The job market is full of stiff competition and you need stand out. If you enter an interview with a solid understanding of the company and bring good questions, you will be sure to make a good impression. What are some of your interview tips? Feel free to leave them in the comments.
Austin Zerbach is a senior majoring in public relations. Austin plans to pursue a career in event management post graduation. You can contact Austin at email@example.com.
Although writing a cover letter can often be frustrating, it is the first and most important thing a potential employer sees. The right cover letter can get you one step closer to an interview. Here are a few tips to make the writing process easier and your cover letters more successful:
Keep your cover letter well organized and easy to read. Use the first paragraph to explain why you are contacting the organization. Be sure to include any mutual acquaintances and mention your interest in the company or a specific position. In two to three concise body paragraphs, elaborate on your relevant skills, experience, knowledge and expertise. Conclude the cover letter by reiterating your interest in the company and mentioning a call to action, such as “I look forward to hearing from you.”
Tailor your descriptions of skills and experiences to fit the position. Use the job posting as a guide to identify two or three key skills that the employer is looking for. Then, brainstorm the ways in which your skills or experiences illustrate those reoccurring themes. By using key terms from the job posting, you can show that you not only understand what the job entails, but that you’re the right fit for the position.
Remember, they want to know what you can do for them. The more clearly you illustrate how you can benefit the organization, the more likely they call you for an interview. Consider concluding each of your body paragraphs with a sentence summarizing how the skill or experience you mention is relevant and how it will impact the employer.
For more advice on writing a standout cover letter, read this post on the seven-step resume makeover and this article on the mind trick that will help you write a more creative and passion-filled cover letter.
What has been your most successful trick to writing a unique cover letter? Let us know by leaving a comment.
Hannah Osborn, external relations committee member, is a junior pursuing a double major in public relations and magazine journalism. Follow her on Twitter at @hannahmarieoz.
So you have finally landed the interview. Now what? Here are 10 tips to help you overcome anxiety and land any internship or job with ease:
1. Come prepared. Do your research about the company or the person interviewing you. When they ask you why you want to work for them, you can talk about work they have done for clients or campaigns that inspired you. Also, bring a pen, paper and a copy your resume.
2. Know your resume like the back of your hand. Chances are, your interviewer is not going to read through your entire resume before the interview. They will be glancing over it throughout your conversation and asking you to speak more directly about experience that intrigues them. Practice elaborating on key points on your resume the night before your interview.
3. Come with three great questions. When your interviewer asks you if you have any questions at the end of your interview, you have a chance to ask more about what really interests you about their company. Try to avoid sticking to questions about the internship position itself.
4. Arrive early, but not too early. Try to walk into the lobby about five minutes early.
5. Map out your route the night before. Know how to get to the company that you’re interviewing at and how long it will take to get there.
6. Prepare an interesting elevator pitch. If you only had 30 seconds to tell someone about yourself, would you just parrot information that they could get from your resume? Be creative but strategic.
7. Dress to impress, but keep company culture in mind. Even if the company you are interviewing at is casual, you should show in your attire that you take the interview seriously. Typically for a casual company, you don’t have to wear your nicest suit or heels. Find one formal piece, such as a blazer, and balance all of your less formal items around it.
8. Be confidant. You have to believe in your abilities before anyone else will.
9. Smile. Show that you want the job and that you are happy to be there. An interview is really just a conversation between professionals – not a hostage interrogation session.
10. Say thank you. Write a hand-written card thanking your interviewer for considering you for the position the day after your interview. It shows that you’re detail oriented and makes you stand out.
Amelea Renshaw is the 2013-2014 University of Oregon PRSSA operations director. She is currently a junior double majoring in advertising and public relations. You can contact Amelea at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter at @amelearenshaw.
A common issue among public relations majors is landing an internship. Although seeking out a public relations internship can be intimidating, especially if you have little to no experience, it is possible. Here are some quick tips to get you started.
With strategic searching and persistence, you will have an internship in no time.
Amelea Renshaw is the 2013-2014 University of Oregon PRSSA operations director. She is currently a junior double majoring in advertising and public relations. You can contact Amelea at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter at @amelearenshaw.
As June approaches, graduating seniors are anxious to finish their final classes and finally dawn on those green caps and gowns. But then comes planning for life post-grad. Navigating job listings can often be frustrating. but Twitter can be a great way to find recent job postings. Here are six Twitter resources to help you land a great job:
1. Follow @PRSSANational. Lauren Rosenbaum, PRSSA Vice President of Public Relations, regularly tweets about internships and jobs that are on the PRSSA internship center.
2. Follow @SOJCCareers. The SOJC Advising Office tweets about many local jobs and internships, as well as some national opportunities.
3. Follow @ComeRecommended. Come Recommended is a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. They tweet helpful job-hunting strategies, and occasionally tweet about national job opportunities.
4. Follow companies that you want to work for. Sometimes those brands will post job openings, but even if they don’t, it is good to learn about that company and what a job might look like with them.
5. Follow professors such as @KelliMatthews. SOJC faculty members often tweet job search advice, as well as any local jobs and internships she learns about.
6. Follow job-listing aggregators, such as @marketjobsUSA, @comminternships, and @EntryPRJobs. These are excellent resources for the newest job listings across the country.
Even if you aren’t looking for a job, it’s helpful to know what sort of skills are necessary for your dream job. Take the time to browse current listings, identify the companies and positions that catch your eye, and make your job search efforts count.
Post by Aimee Gregg, UO PRSSA member for the 2012-2013 school year. You can contact Aimee through our blog editor at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Paid or unpaid, navigating the role of intern for the first time can be a challenge for anyone. Internship experience is an important part of building your resume as a student. Here are some of our favorite tips for being successful in an internship role:
1. Dress Professionally. Be sure to dress appropriately and modestly at your internship. Be wary of cleavage and be sure your skirt is at least knee length. Your office is not the place to showcase your eccentric personal style. “Inappropriate dress will hurt your quest for professional respect,” said Lorra Brown (PR Daily). Take a look around you, get a feel for the office dress code, and look to model that.
2. Understand Your Manager’s Expectations. Your managers do not expect you to know how to do everything. They do, however, expect you to be able to follow directions. Bring paper and a pen to meetings so that you can write detailed notes when your manager is speaking. Don’t hesitate to ask questions; you want to leave the meeting with a clear understanding of how to complete any given task. Be sure to brainstorm ideas before reaching out to your supervisor so you come prepared and with a possible solution to the problem you are trying to address.
3. Learn to Take Criticism. At some point in your internship you will receive criticism. Your supervisors criticize your work for your benefit as well as the organizations. If you aren’t receiving any feedback, just ask; constructive criticism is key to improvement.
4. Act as an Employee. Although you are an intern, you should conduct yourself with the dignity and integrity of an employee. “Employers frequently criticize interns for lacking problem-solving abilities or their unwillingness to be proactive in generating ideas,” Lorra Brown (PR Daily) Keep yourself busy even when you don’t have a project to work on, ask others if they need help, and bring creative ideas to meetings.
5. Be an Advocate for Your Goals. Be clear with your manager about your expectations for the internship. If you begin the internship with the intention of gaining a certain skill, or creating a particular portfolio piece, communicate that with your manager. If they don’t know what your expectations are, you may end up performing a greater number of mundane office tasks. Your goals are an important priority, however, you are in charge of achieving them!
Post by Katie Keene, PRSSA member for the 2012-2013 school year. You can contact Katie through our blog editor: email@example.com.