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?


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!

Are YOU on the Bandwagon?

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Social Media is on the rise, and boy has it risen above most others. It is very obvious that people are obsessed with this new fad and it is not stopping anytime soon. This past week as I participated in various chats on Twitter (#SMMackChat#u30pro #blogchat ) I realized that a lot of people tweet about social media while using social media. Yes, I have obviously jumped on the social media bandwagon, but have you? This blog post is dedicated to my top three favorite social media sources that I use on a daily basis.

1) Twitter

We all use it. Twitter is great for many reasons, the top reason being networking. I have gained so many student and professional connections via Twitter and it is all because I actively engage in conversations. I will admit that for a while I would sit back because I was too timid to mention someone in a tweet or actually participate in chats like #PRStudChat or #u30pro. Instead I would occasionally send the, “Today is going to be great!” or “Cleaning around the apartment.” until I realized this past semester that you have to be confident on Twitter. So many great things are happening on this social media outlet, so why would you choose not to get involved? Plus, it is free!

Out of all of the social media sites that I engage in, Twitter is in my top three. I love the fact that you can do research via people you are following or by searching for it. You can start a conversation with a stranger and build a relationship solely because you have similar majors or live in the same area. There have been countless times when I have found people who major in public relations and I tweet to them on a daily basis. Something that actually happened today was a connection I made from the prstudchat-class-of-2011 list. I was looking to see if any other students graduating in 2011 had been added to the list and I saw @sandrulee so I decided to say hello. I discovered that she is from Turkey and we discussed some social media that had been banned in the country.

I feel like Twitter really is more than just a site to “update your status”. Twitter allows you to exchange information about various topics with people by mentioning, hashtags, or DM’s. Obviously it is an amazing source to network and connect with as well. When I signed up for it I was not a public relations major yet, but now I use it constantly because it is a great tool for the PR world.

Follow me on Twitter. I would love to chat with you!

2) LinkedIn

LinkedIn is still fairly new to me because I just joined a few months ago, but I love it! I have only connected with 46 people, but they are really great individuals to network with. LinkedIn is a website to upload you resume with the opportunity to add more content so people have a more in-depth understanding of everything listed under each section (Experience, Awards, Education, etc). It is obviously a fantastic way to network with professionals and students in the same field as you. It also allows you to join groups and interact with people. I recently gained a connection by joining the HAPPO group on the site. I definitely think it is worthwhile to join groups on the site, but do not just join them, get involved! Talk to fellow group members. You can help each other if you have questions about something or if you just need advice.

LinkedIn is a social media site that students and professionals should all join. It is professional and like I said before, great for networking and connecting with others. Come join me on LinkedIn! I would love to have you in my network.

3) Facebook

Of course I had to add everyone’s favorite, Facebook. I have had Facebook since it became available to high school students in 2006 and I am still engaged with the site even though there are privacy issues. When I first signed up I rarely got on to do anything. For a while I thought it was more stalker-friendly then anything. Eventually I got over that stage because I discovered it is a great way to stay in touch with friends that move, family members that are not near you, and sharing photos and videos. After I became a PR major I discovered how to really utilize Facebook to fit into being social media savvy.

One of my favorite things about Facebook is the ability businesses have to create fan pages. People can “like” fan pages to stay up-to-date with what is going on with a company, store, or organization that they like. Of course there are fan pages for everything, but many of these are pointless to me. I guess if people like the idea behind the page then they like it (no pun intended! :p). I personally control five Facebook fan pages and I love that I can interact with people who comment on the page by answering question or just saying “thanks for the comment”.

The PR Real World Conference workshop that I attended about social media taught me to keep Facebook fun and professional. Yes, it is great to go out and have fun and see pictures that your friends post from the night before, but be smart about it. Do not post pictures of you drinking and doing illegal things. Employers can and DO look at your Facebook page so keep it tidy. They are more likely to hire someone who has a cleaner profile then someone who has pictures and status updates of themselves going out to party every night.

You can friend me on Facebook as well!

That is my list of favorite social media outlets!

Now I have a few questions for you to think about or answer:

Are YOU on the bandwagon?

What are your favorite social media sites? Do you think Twitter will become “out-dated” in the next few months? How do you feel about LinkedIn? Are the privacy issues with Facebook going to cause you to “quit”?

PR Real World Conference: Part Four.

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Session Four: Focus on Sports

During this session, Matt Garvey discussed what goes on behind-the-scenes when promoting sports teams and events.

Matt Garvey from the Chick-fil-A Bowl:

  • Know about the Graphic Design and Printing Industry. Also know about the Photography Industry to help you hire people.
  • There are 4-5 people who run just the events for the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
  • Work on the Chick-fil-A Bowl happens year-round for just three events. They have a $20 million dollar budget!
  • Garvey says, “Plan now to develop skill sets for later on.”
  • Event Management: Press Conference, Satellite Video Tour, News Release. Learn logistics and time management. You need to know every side of PR.
  • “Must be able to build relationships.” PR is about relationships (writers, editors, etc.). You need face time with these people.
  • You have got to be able to write! He says:
  • 9 out of 10 professionals can’t write that are out there.
  • You need to be able to incorporate message into the press release. Weave message (this is more of an art then a science- Garvey).
  • You need to be creative!
  • Garvey says hours are terrible with Sports PR. “I worked 93 days without a day off one season.” (9am- Midnight is common for hours with baseball when the team is on tour).
  • Another key point he made was the number one factor in the Bowl Game:
  • “#1 factor in Bowl Game= TEAMS! How highly ranked they are.”
  • They have to have money to get better teams.

All in all, I had an amazing experience at PR Real World Conference 2010. I learned many valuable things about the profession I am going into that I will definitely take with me wherever I may end up. If this conference happens again next year, count me in! I will definitely encourage everyone to attend.

Sky, Amanda, Lauren, Me

PR Real World Conference: Part Three.

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During the luncheon Sean Cassidy, from DKC Public Relations & Marketing, spoke to us about how entertainment PR. He talked about how celebrities used to be untouchable and disconnected, but now those barriers are down. Consumers are influenced by what celebrities do or consume when they are on or off screen. Now they can be classified as multi-platform brands. Sean Cassidy also mentioned emotional connection- you feel better because you interacted with a brand. An example he used was how airlines are re-establishing a brand connection using entertainment (ex. James Bond). Social media/networking is also very prominent in the entertainment community. Some celebrities have more followers on Twitter than how many people read a newspaper a day! Mr. Cassidy had great information to offer about entertainment PR.

Session Three: Networking and Career Fair.

Session three offered great opportunities to network with other students and professionals. I met many great people who I am definitely planning to stay in touch with! Among these people were Stephen Brown from MS&L Worldwide, Tomeka Cherry from Edelman, Leslie Young a student/intern in Georgia, Brad Willard from PR Newswire, Katherine Mason from Porter Novelli, Tayshia Jackson a student in Georgia, and many others. I was also able to have my resume critiqued during this time. A few pointers he gave me was to include a short description about the companies I have worked for. Personalize my objective for the job I am applying for and under experience put PR and Marketing related topics first and to also lead with the biggest thing you have done under each topic.

Lauren, Me, Leslie

PR Real World Conference: Part Two.

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Session 2: Seal the Deal: What You Need to Know to Land the Job

There were two great speakers at this session discussing the interview process and what to do when you land the job.

Sharon Jones of Ketchum: Interview.

  • Research the company before you apply to a job. You do not want to go to an interview not knowing anything about the company you would like to work for.
  • Find out what the company is doing to show off at the interview.
  • Ask what the companies values are.
  • NETWORK! Traditionally and with social media (join websites such as LinkedIn).
  • Follow-up after the interview. Ask something like, “May I connect with you at a given time?” after the interview. Ask when a decision will be made to help you plan follow-up.
  • Your resume should be PERFECT. No typo’s or wrong spellings. Use key word phrases to draw the employers eyes to your resume. Keep resume one page and updated; make relevant for where and what you are applying for. Do not assume the employer knows what a previous company you have worked for is; include brief description in resume.
  • The cover letter is very important. If the resume engages the speaker then they will look at your cover letter.
  • Before interview: do not arrive to the office until fifteen minutes before interview. Pump yourself up! Practice your elevator speech. You never know when you will have to use it.You are interviewing with everyone when you walk through the door.
  • When someone wants to shake your hand, stand up.
  • Evaluate how well you listen, prior to the interview.
  • Maintain comfortable eye contact.
  • Mirror formality of interview. Just because the person you are interviewing with is very comfortable does not mean you should be.
  • Go with thoughtful, prepared questions. This shows that you have researched the company and are interested.
  • Send a personal thank you note after interview. If you interviewed with several different individuals, send a thank you to everyone.
  • If the company gives you an offer, respond in two days.

Tia Jackson of Porter Novelli: When you land the job.

  • Just meeting expectations is not good enough. Go the extra mile, it really can make a difference.
  • Get to know the business. Know exactly what to do.
  • Network! This is key to having a successful career.
  • Ask expectations for career. Meet with your manager and team if you are on one.
  • Be actively engaged and take advantages of opportunities.
  • Research! Make sure you know what you are walking into.
  • Find out what you can expect in the first 24 months of your career.
  • Meet deadlines! If you have more than one to meet on the same day talk with your manager to help make a plan to meet these deadlines.
  • “This is your career. You have to take charge of your career.”
  • Set goals for yourself.

Other tips from Sharon Jones and Tia Jackson:

  • If you have already accepted a job, but you get a better job offer know that the first company will most likely turn their nose on you.
  • If you do a phone interview put a mirror in front of yourself so you smile!
  • When you are in your interview physical appearance is first impression. Keep it moderate!
  • If there is a salary question on the application do research to find out what is appropriate to put.

My LinkedIn Account:

PR Real World Conference 2010: Part One.

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This past Friday, February 19, I attended the PR Real World Conference in Atlanta with three other lovely ladies from the PRSSA chapter at WCU. Altogether there were four sessions plus a luncheon with a keynote speaker. Throughout the conference there was also many opportunities to network with other public relations students from different states, and individuals from companies like Ketchum, Porter Novelli, MS&L Worldwide, Golin Harris, and many others. At the opening session of the conference, we were reminded of some important things to keep in mind throughout the day:

  1. Networking is critical!
  2. Save contacts and remember who they are. After you receive a business card write down something so you can remember who they are. Follow-up on them two to three days after initial meeting (ex. I met you at Real World..).
  3. Do not just join PRSA or PRSSA, get involved!

Here are some valuable tips that I took from each session I attended:

Session 1: Social Media’s Place in PR

The speakers at this session were Ashley Payne from the Georgia Aquarium, Stephen Brown from MS&L Worldwide, and Nick Ayres from The Home Depot. They each offered valuable advice about using social media and how it has affected the companies they work for.

  • Ashley Payne: A year ago, the Georgia Aquarium did not have social media but they did have traditional public relations. Now that they use Twitter (10,862 followers), Facebook (16,013 fans) and e-mailing lists they are able to offer special promotions and give away free things via social media.
  • Stephen Brown: MS&L’s social media team helps many clients with their social media. Stephen informed us to create a calendar of specific times and dates and information for what to Tweet about. He also said to engage customers using the social media. Twitter has become very popular with this because of hashtags, ‘mentioning’ and direct messaging. One of the important messages he left us with was to know the purpose of having social media for your client.
  • Nick Ayres: Home Depot started their social media two and half years ago. He said it is great for offering promotions and gaining customer feedback. The team he works on is made up of him and one other individual.

The speakers had many other things to say about social media. Ashley Payne mentioned that you should make your Facebook and Twitter private when you apply for a job. They DO look at your pages, so at least clean them up. Another bit of information they included when applying for a job was to research what the company was doing with social media. If they are not using social media ask them why not and explain to them why they should (promote special offers, deals and events). Here are some other great pointers the three left us with:

  • Organizations want to know other things you do besides just social media when applying for a job.
  • Know the different platforms of social media. RESEARCH! Know how to apply this for business.
  • The Big Three: Youtube, Facebook and Twitter.