Spring Break is Here, Now What?

It is spring break for Western Carolina University students, but I decided to hang around campus for the week. Why in the world would I do this? To apply for summer internships and catch up on work that will be due after the break. This may sound insane, but I wanted to get ahead of the game.

If you do not have spring break plans, fill your break with other things to do that can help out with your future. Here are some suggestions I have:

  • Start applying for summer internships if you have not yet. After spring break is over summer is right around the corner. If you have decided to use spring break to apply to summer internships, stick to it! Yes, go have fun on your break as well, but pick specific days to focus on your resume, cover letter and creating a list of internships you would like to apply to. Then pick a day to actually send in applications.
  • Go do a job shadow! Shadow someone in the industry you would like to work in when you graduate. While some university programs require this, others may not. Take advantage of having down time and contact employers about spending a day shadowing them. If you are able to set up an appointment, make sure you are prepared. Create a list of questions to ask throughout the day about the particular job and take notes throughout the experience. Bring along business cards and copies of your resume. Shadowing offers you a chance to network with professionals.

  • Look for a spring break internship. I had never heard of these until today when I came across an article Heath Nettles shared earlier. You can read the article here. While it may be to late to apply for spring break internships right now, you can always plan to do one next year. This offers a chance to network, just like with job shadowing. It will also give you multiple days to see how a firm or company works and you will gain valuable experience.
  • Stay ahead of school work. With the end of the semester fast approaching it may become easy to put some assignments aside to work on after spring break. Personally, I have a ton of assignments due right after the break, so I am taking this week to stay ahead of my school work as well. It may not be very fun, but you will at least have more free time after break!

If you do not have spring break plans I hope these suggestions help! What are other suggestions you have?


The Search is On: Tips for Internship Hunting Success

Summer internship hunting is here for many college students, myself included. Here are three tips that help me stay focused and get applications in on time.

  1. Excel Spreadsheets. I seriously live by Excel spreadsheets. So when I started looking for internships it was no different. While looking for internships I keep an Excel spreadsheet open so I can get all of the information I need to know about the internship. Things I include are the title of the internship, location, dates for the internship, where to send my resume and cover letter, and a link to the website for the internship. I also include the date I applied for the internship. Trust me, keeping track of internship leads this way definitely helps!
  2. Resume and Cover Letter. Keep your resume updated! This will make it easier when you start to apply for internships. My suggestion is to keep your resume to one page and do something creative to make it stand out. It is also important to tailor your resume to fit the internship you are applying for. An easy way to keep track of all of your experience is by creating a LinkedIn account. It also allows you to elaborate on the experience you have and you can include this link on your resume. You can read more about my resume suggestions here. As far as your cover letter goes, write a different one for every internship you apply for! You need to cater your cover letter to fit the internship you are applying for, just like you do for your resume.
  3. Network! Network, network, network. Attend conferences, like Real World PR, for an opportunity to network with professionals at a career expo. These connections can be valuable and also give you an opportunity to pass out your resume to potential employers. This also allows you to network with fellow students, who can help you out by looking over your resume to offer your advice before you apply for internships.

These are three things I stick to before, during and after my internship hunt. What are tips you have when it comes to internship hunting?

Ever Wonder Why People Follow You?

Have you ever seriously wondered why people follow you? No, I do not mean follow you down the sidewalk, I mean follow you on Twitter. I have. Actually, I wonder this almost every day.

While some people may not think twice about the people that are following them on Twitter, I always wonder why someone I may have never tweeted with before is following me. Yes, everyone has their reason to follow someone, but when I follow someone it is usually because we connect. Below you will find the top reasons I follow someone.

Network. Twitter has definitely helped me out when it comes to networking. Being a large social media website, networking with students and professionals all over the world is possible. The best thing about networking through Twitter is finally meeting the people you tweet with in real life. The best way I have found to network on Twitter is by getting involved with different communities.

Community. Being involved in great communities like #PRStudChat and #PRSSA, along with many other ones, has given me the chance to network with fellow students and professionals. Through these communities I start to follow the people I have met, because I am learning from them. We also have something in common: the community we are involved in.

Engagement. Engage with me! When I follow someone I always try to engage with them as much as possible. If I am following you it is because I want to engage with you, and if you are following me I want you to engage with me! I do not bite, I promise! Plus, if you have not noticed by now I like to talk. 😉

Learn. Like I have already mentioned, I follow people because I know I can learn a lot from them. Through communities and engaging with individuals, my knowledge on various topics has grown tremendously. One topic, of course, is social media! Who would have guessed? I think everyone that engages in communities on Twitter have a lot to offer and overall it is an awesome learning opportunity for everyone.

While I follow almost 1,500 people, and this number grows everyday, I have connected with each person. This is why I am following them. Every Twitter handle that I follow, I follow with purpose.

What are your thoughts? Why do you follow someone? Do they provide information that is relevant to you? Are they interesting?

How do you Tweet?

Tweeting for me started on the web. From the web I discovered TweetDeck and fell in love with how it fulfilled my tweeting needs. I have tried CoTweet, Seesmic, Chromed Bird and Hootsuite, oh and of course Twitter for Mac when the Mac App Store opened. There may be other sources I have tried, but I honestly cannot remember any other ones. TweetDeck is, and has always been, my constant way to tweet while on my computer because of all of the amazing features it has.

When it comes to my Droid Incredible I have tried Twitter for Droid, Seesmic, and when TweetDeck became available for Beta I had to have it. While I love the desktop version of TweetDeck, I am not a super huge fan of the mobile version. I loved it at first, and lately it has not been staying very updated. Twitter for Droid works way more efficiently for me and is my favorite tweeting source while on my phone.

My favorite way to tweet is from my computer. I love that I have access to Twitter while on the go, but tweeting from the computer is still my favorite.

What is your favorite way to tweet? Would love to hear your feedback!

Keep the “Personal” at Home

Let’s face it, we all build friendships through the networking that we do. Through conferences and networking I have personally formed some amazing friendships. However, something we need to remember as students is keeping personal things personal and professional things professional.

Please stick with me through the story I am about to tell. I promise I have a point.

That's me on the podium!

An example that I have of this comes from when I was a junior in high school (which seems like forever ago!). Let me start by saying that I was a huge band nerd and marching band was my main priority, after wind ensemble of course. My freshman year in high school was the first year I was in marching band, and because of the student leaders I had my passion grew tremendously for this activity. While I have been playing music since I was three, marching band in high school made my passion for music even stronger. Of course I wanted to be the drum major, mainly because the drum major my freshman year was amazing and shared the same passion that I did for music. I wanted to be just like her.

Well, my junior year  I received the honor of being the head drum major of my high school marching band. All of the hard work had finally paid off and I was ecstatic for the next season to start. Over the summer between my sophomore and junior year I, along with the assistant drum major, attended a camp focused on leadership within the marching band. We also met with our band director several times to get everything in place for the 2006 season. During one of the meetings my band director told us we needed to remember that if anything personal happened between us and a friend we had to keep it off of the field. When we set foot on the marching field it was time to work. You are not supposed to favor a friend and definitely not supposed to bring your personal problems onto the field. You are on the field to make music and represent it through marching.

I do not know how much you guys know about marching band, and I do not want this post to last forever, but being in this leadership position in high school taught me many things for my future. While yes, we are all human and there may be times where we forget to keep personal things at home, we must remember that when we are at work it is time to work. While it is great to build friendships with the people you work with, you also need to find a balance between your working relationship and friendship. If you have a conflict, do not let it show in your work. Sit down outside of work and discuss it. Yes, things will happen, but be prepared to work through them.

Running the student-run firm on campus has reminded me of my marching band days. I have built some great friendships through CatCom, but I have to remember that as a student-run firm, and as the leader of the firm, we have work to do, so it is important to have a boundary set of a working relationship and a friendship outside of work.

What are your thoughts on working relationships and co-worker friendships? Do you think it is okay to have that friendship? Why or why not?

Motivation: You Can Do It!

Motivation. This is a term we are all very familiar with, am I correct? Yes, we all face days where it is hard to get anything done, but we have to find the motivation to do it somewhere and somehow. Just because you may be having an “off day” does not mean the world will stop spinning. It keeps moving and life goes on. So where do you find motivation when all you may want to do on a Monday is lay around on the couch catching up on Jersey Shore episodes you may have missed?

Here are the steps I take when I need to be motivated. I hope you find them helpful!

  1. Get out of the house. As a student you may call your house your dorm room, and you may have a desk to sit at, but get out of your house/room and go somewhere else to work! While I do love working from home when I can it can also cause me to not get anything completed. Personally, I find home to have to many distractions, so I have to go to my office (Catamount Communications has a student office on campus and I definitely take advantage of this!) or Starbucks on campus to get anything done. You can also go to your campus library or public library. I know that always, without doubt, motivates me to get things done! Find the place that is best suited for you and get some work done.
  2. Conferences. While you may not be able to attend every single conference that comes along, pick a few to go to. Being around other students and professionals that share the same passion as you will put you in the mindset to get things accomplished, and fast. I attended Real World PR 2011 this past Friday and I can definitely tell you I am way more motivated this week than I was last week. Conferences, in a way, are a friendly reminder that all of your hard work while in college will pay off. Networking with fellow students and PR professionals helps me become more motivated and stay motivated.
  3. Read. Google Reader is probably my top favorite thing in the world. I have every blog that I love to read on my Google Reader and I set aside a time at night to read all of the blogs I love. I read the news in the morning and while I am out in town I pick up a copy of the local newspaper. Reading other blogs and the news makes me more motivated. I have created a whole new plan for my blog this past weekend, because if other people can find time to write three or four blog posts a week, so can I! However, do not just stick to reading the news and blogs. Read books as well! I am currently reading Twitter Power by Joel Comm and I love it! Yes, as a student you are required to read your textbook(s) for class, but set time aside to read a book you want to read as well.
  4. Time management. Let’s face it. Time management is a difficult thing to balance, but when you find a good balance stick with it! I am currently reorganizing my priorities so I can get more things accomplished in a timely manner. I do not have classes on Monday, Wednesday or Friday each week, so I have plenty of time on these days to fill with meetings, office hours, homework, etc. At the beginning of this semester I made a schedule for myself just for these days so I can get things done. Trust me, it is tempting to lay in bed all day, but I choose not to do that. I wake up around 9 a.m. and read the news and plan out my day. This keeps me in a motivated mindset.
  5. Positive attitude is key. Last, but not least: stay positive! Do not think of your growing to-do list as a chore. Think of it as a reward. When you complete the things on your to-do list reward yourself to something you like: movie at Redbox, mani/pedi, dinner with friends at your favorite restaurant, etc. This helps to keep me motivated! Knowing that I am getting a reward (even if it is me rewarding myself) keeps me in a positive attitude! Also, set goals and have rewards for each goal that you accomplish. Just remember to stay positive and remind yourself that you can do it!

While I have many more things I could share with you on how I stay motivated, these are my top steps. Hopefully these steps will help you stay motivated when you need it. I know these things definitely help me to stay motivated!

What are ways that you stay motivated? Do you have a weekly/daily routine?

Real World PR 2011

I just want to start off by saying that I love conferences! This is the second year that I have attended Real World PR in Atlanta and I can honestly say it is just as good, if not better, the second time around. There were great panelists, awesome networking opportunities throughout the day, and a career expo.

This post is mainly a reflection of my experience at Real World this year. Last year I wrote separate posts reflecting on each session that I attended, but this year I am going to try to fit it all into one, which is difficult to do considering all of the useful information I took away from each session.

If you have never attended this conference before you should definitely go next year! The way it works is there are four sessions throughout the day, with an opening session at the very beginning to welcome everyone and a luncheon with the Georgia PRSA Chapter. I have included some pictures that I took throughout the day, so enjoy!

Opening Session

This year, Stephen M. Brown of MSL Atlanta was the speaker during the opening session. He did a great job of reminding everyone that networking via social media is great, but face-to-face networking is still important.

Here are my favorite tips that I took away from this session:

  • Think of 5-10 companies you would like to work for and follow them! See what they are doing.
  • “Smile and show confidence!” – Stephen M. Brown
  • Business card= stay in touch!
  • Leave with plans to follow up.
  • Elevator speech! Make an impact when you give it.
    • Introduce yourself and give an example of something you have worked on.
    • Practice your elevator speech!
    • “If we don’t have access to your Facebook page, we will find a way.” – Stephen M. Brown

This was definitely a memorable opening session and I took so many things away from it. Yes, networking is still important and with social media being on the rise it definitely aids in making connections, but take these connections offline as well! This year I was able to connect with individuals in person at this conference and PRSSA National Conference that I have been tweeting with for a while now (Ian Bridgeforth, Monica Earle, Alana S. Robinson, Desiree Mahr, Raquel LuteJen Lesshafft) and it is great! (These are the wonderful friends I am pictured with above! :))I was also able to connect with a professional (Kent Landers) that was speaking at conference using the hashtag #RW2011 prior to the actual conference. I absolutely love Twitter for this reason.

Session One- Social Media: For Business or Pleasure?

Last year I attended this same session, and the reason I chose to go to it again this year is because of how involved I have been with social media in the business setting since conference last year. Last year I was just getting into Twitter and my Facebook was way more personal. After this particular session a year ago I cleaned up my Facebook, joined LinkedIn, started using Twitter to share my knowledge and learn, and really got into blogging.

This year the panel included great PR professionals that had a lot to share about social media and their experience working with it. Here were the panelists:

Here are the great tips I took away from this session this year:

  • “Everyone has a voice, everyone can be heard.” – Landers
  • Evaluate every new social media tool that comes out and decide if it is good for your business.
  • Go on LinkedIn at least once a month and join a group or answer a question. – Ilg
  • Technology cannot replace human intelligence when it comes to monitoring social media.
  • “You have to be really humble about your approach to social media.” – Kent

A student during this session asked a great question about how relevant social media will be in five years. While this is a tough question to answer, I am very interested to see what social media is like in five years and what new technology we may have.

Session Two- Campaign-Storm

This was an awesome session to attend, especially since I just completed the campaigns class at my university. Paul Wright of Fuzebox, Inc. and Kristy Grulikowski of Porter Novelli informed us of the campaign they have teamed up to work on about cyber-bullying. The best part about this session was it happened to be a huge brainstorming session for everyone that attended it with Fuzebox, Inc. and Porter Novelli. I am very excited to see what happens with this campaign, because it is definitely important to put a stop to cyber-bullying.

Here are some important tips I took away from the session:

  • Clients want bang for their buck!
  • Spend a lot of time up front learning about the target audience.
  • Peer-to-peer advocates are important.
  • Scare tactics do work, like the Truth Campaign.

Speaker and Luncheon

The luncheon this year was fantastic. Don Perry (Vice President, Corporate Public Relations, Chick-fil-A) and Mark Baldwin (Senior Consultant, Corporate Public Relations, Chick-fil-A) were the speakers and the offered great insight on the Spicy Chicken Sandwich Campaign that Chick-fil-A recently had.

Here are some exciting facts from this part of the conference:

  • The Spicy Chicken Sandwich was the first new sandwich Chick-fil-A has had in 20 years.
  • Online reservations for the new sandwich. This is something new in the fast food world and for individuals that made reservations they were treated like special guests.
  • Social media sites utilized: Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
  • 10,000 tweets about the new sandwich.
  • Some stats from the campaign:
    • Total PR value: $8.4 million
    • Total audience reach: 52, 764, 893
    • Coverage in more than 95 cities nationwide.
    • Total number of Spicy Chicken Sandwiches sold during the first week: 1, 777, 083!

Session Three: Interactive Session and Career Fair

This session offered a chance to visit the career fair and meet professionals from PR agencies around Georgia and a resume critique. It also offered a chance to network with fellow students. This was one of my favorites parts of the conference last year, and the same goes for this year.

Session Four: Agents, Lawyers and Celebrities… Oh My!

This was probably my favorite session of the day, because I am very interested in music/entertainment PR. The panelists for this session included Carmen Davenporte- McNeal (TBS, Inc.), Craig Hodges (Edelman), Beth Marshall (Atlanta Braves) and Jon Steinberg (Atlanta Spirit). The moderator of this session was Gary McKillips, Atlanta Correspondent for AP Radio Sports and Major League Baseball on Sirius/XM.

Here are some great tips I took away from this session:

  • “Takes a very highly skilled professional to do this job.” -McKillips
  • “Glamour portion of the job is overrated.” -Steinberg
  • Know how to communicate, be a good write, and have good instincts. -Steinberg
  • Build relationships with the media.
  • Anticipation- knowing where a certain story is going, knowing what the next story will be. -Steinberg
  • You have to love what you do! -Davenporte- McNeal
  • “Working at an agency is like a kid in a candy store!” -Hodges (My personal favorite quote of the day!)
  • There’s not a work life balance, there’s a work life blend.
  • “Add value. Give them something they need.” -Hodges
  • Networking!
  • “Keeping personal emotion out of it.” -Steinberg
  • Always trying to expand past sports section in the paper. -Marshall

If you made it to the end of this post, sorry it was so long! Hope to see everyone there next year! If you attended, what were your favorite sessions/tips from the day? I would love to hear!