How a Part Time Job Can Help Your Future

Since the age of 15 I have held a part-time job working in the food industry. That’s 7 years! Why the food industry? I love food of course! Okay, that isn’t exactly why I have always worked in the food industry. I mainly just wanted a job while I was in high school to pay for extra things, like going out with friends to the movies, that I hated borrowing money from my family for. I never imagined how beneficial the part-time positions I held would actually turn out to be. Below are a few things I have taken away from various part time positions I have held.

  • Work Ethic. Having a part time job while you are in high school and/or college really helps boost your work ethic. I come from a very hardworking family anyways, but getting a job at the age of 15 really taught me about work ethic. I have worked in several different restaurant settings, and each one has shown me different types of work ethic from coworkers. It has helped to mold me into a very hardworking and motivated individual.
  • Leadership. While I have been in school here at Western Carolina University, I have held a part-time job at Subway. Throughout these past few years I have gained the trust from upper management to help train new employees, and as of last week was promoted to Store Manager. While I have no plans of furthering my career at Subway once I graduate with my PR degree (unless corporate is in need of a PR pro of course), working my way up the career ladder at Subway has shown me how hard work and dedication in the future will pay off.
  • Time Management. This is so important to have throughout life. Learning to be on time to work is a skill you will need to possess outside of college and a part time job. Something I learned in high school marching band has carried over into the work side of my life. Early is on time, on time is late, and late… well if you’re late, you’re screwed. Always be at least five minutes early! It shows you care. Along with being on time, when you are at work you need to make sure you set aside enough time to fulfill each task you have that day. Let’s face it, in the PR industry we have to be pretty awesome at managing our time, along with multi-tasking, hence why we are attached to our smart phones!
  • Balance. My senior year in high school I took on two jobs, marching band, and was a full-time student. Yes, this was tough. However, it taught me very early on how important balance really is. Thinking back on it now I have no idea how I managed to have a life outside of all of these things, but I did! While working two jobs didn’t last very long (I enjoy my social life), it did teach me that taking on too many things can be bad. Like I said before, I enjoy my social life, and I also enjoy family time. Working in the PR industry is time consuming, we students are aware of this. Therefore we have to find a good, healthy balance between work, social life, and family time. Too much work is not always a good thing! Sometimes your mind needs a break.
  • Communication Skills. One thing I wish my high school offered was a communications class. I feel like every high school should, because communication is so important out in the real world. Having a part time job has taught me how to effectively communicate with co-workers. For instance, I work morning and night shifts at four different Subway’s (they are all owned by the same guy). Doing this requires extreme communication with coworkers. All four stores operate a little differently, so I cannot be afraid to ask questions and find out answers to be able to work to my full potential. In the real world you have to be able to possess this skill! Communication really is key in the work world, and life in general.
  • Customer Service. We all know the customer is always right, right? If I have taken anything away from working in the food industry (I’m sure this goes for any retail industry… I know it does for Mary Kay as well, because I sold their products for a year) it’s that customer service skills are so important to have. Working in PR we will be faced with circumstances where we will have to deal with the consumers/customers of our clients. It is so important to understand how you should approach situations, and I must say, dealing with very hungry people at Subway, or when I was a waitress, is a great way to build those customer service skills. Hungry customers are not a force to be reckoned with!

Have you ever had a part time job? If so, how has it helped prepare you for the real world? If no, do you feel well prepared for the real world anyways? 

It’s Not ALL About Social Media

Social media. Where did it come from? Why is it important? What about the traditional stuff? 

Don’t get me wrong. Social media is absolutely wonderful. I use it everyday, and I have networked and met many great individuals via social media. However, people tend to forget the importance of traditional PR because of all the hype and attention social media has gotten. With social media comes many great opportunities. Virtual internships, networking, constantly staying updated, etc. However, you cannot solely rely on social media to further your career in public relations.

What do I mean by this? 

While it is great to have a social media internship, along with great knowledge of how the realm of social media works, you also need to know the basic skills of the industry. Go beyond a virtual internship. Yes, virtual internships are great. You learn very important communication skills (you aren’t in the office, so communication is extremely important), you work from home, you can have one while you are a full-time student, and the list goes on. However, virtual internships lack in one thing: the experience you will gain through a more traditional internship. For instance, I want to work at an agency where I am able to work on several client accounts. A traditional internship will offer me so much more than a virtual internship in this aspect because I would be in the actual office and able to get help/advice from co-workers at any given second.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the idea of virtual internships and I am currently looking for one. My point is that you cannot solely rely on  social media to get you the experience you will need for the real world. As PR students we need to learn to be well-rounded. It is great to spend a lot of time learning and utilizing social media. It is also great to get out there and put those basic PR skills we learn in the classroom to use. If you focus on just one area of PR while you are in school you will miss out on so many things, and becoming a future well-rounded PR professional could be one of those.

To be successful we have to become well-rounded in this industry. We have to stay up-to-date on current trends, but we also have to stay in touch with the traditional side of PR. Social media has made networking and internships so much easier, but we need to keep in mind it isn’t all about social media. Don’t just rely on social media. Get out there and gain experience in person!

What are your thoughts? Is it really all turning to social media? Is the traditional aspect still important to gain experience in? 

Related articles: 

Is traditional PR dead? 5 ways technology has impacted the communications industry for better or worse

Is Traditional PR Even Worth It?

Important Lessons from Grey’s Anatomy

It is no secret that I have a huge addiction to Grey’s Anatomy, and yes I realize it came out in 2005. While I recently discovered this show, I have quickly picked up on a few things that stand out that can apply to the work world.

  • Mixing professional and personal. Right off the bat, surgical interns Meredith, Izzie and George move in together because Meredith was looking for roommates. It is great to have roommates, but something I have noticed about these three is when they are having issues at home they tend to bring them to work. In a professional environment it is not acceptable. While people love the drama of the show, drama in the workplace is immature and unprofessional. It is always great to make friends with coworkers, but make sure you keep personal and professional separate. Do not let it impact the work you can do!
  • Communication is key! This phrase is said constantly, and for a great reason: it is true! If you want to have success within an organization or company, you need communication. This does not only apply to PR and the communications industry, but everything. The show is about surgeons, and to me it seems like the communication should be constant with them. However, since it is based mainly on the interns they are still learning and the audience sees many times how there is lack of communication between the interns and the resident surgeons. For there to be success, there needs to be communication.
  • Being an intern does help! Some universities do not require students to have internships prior to graduating, but some, like mine, do. Like I mentioned before this show is mainly about the interns. Before watching this show and other shows like it, I had no idea that surgeons had to intern for as long as they do. It makes sense though. While I have never had an operation in my life I do not think I would feel comfortable having someone fresh out of school that does not have a lot of experience operate on me. So how does this relate to PR? No we are not going to be making operations on anyone when we graduate, but we will have to deal with many other things that may occur, like a crisis situation for instance. By interning we have the opportunity to learn and be mentored by professionals before jumping into the fire.

While I may be a little late to the Grey’s Anatomy party, noticing these points in the episodes I have seen has shown me that students are all the same. We are constantly learning and growing. So what do you think… are there hidden messages like the ones I have mentioned above in other television shows? Do you think this is on purpose?

So You Are New to the Blogosphere…

So you are new to the blogosphere, now what?

Everyone is new to blogging at some point or other, but how do you get started? I started my blog a little more than a year ago and I never imagined I would ever get any hits on it. That has changed and it has a lot to do with things I have learned through my own experiences and reading other blogs.

The following are some tips I have for those of you who are new to blogging or want to jumpstart your blog again.

  • Make a plan. The first year I started my blog I did not really have a plan for it. My goal was to get a few posts up a month, but nothing far beyond that. When I decided to buy my domain name and attended Real World PR for the second year in a row, I decided to make a plan and be more serious with my blog. Maybe it took spending money on a domain name, or attending a conference two years in a row where they stress the importance of social media, but I now have a plan for my blog. In your plan, decide what you want to base your blog on and create topics you would like to write about. I suggest this to anyone starting out. It really helps!
  • Research. As PR students we already know the importance of research. When it come to blogging this is no different. See what other PR students and professionals are doing with their blogs and what they are writing. Along with this research you will create a list of blogs you will read daily or weekly.
  • Network in the blog world! Almost everyone is on Twitter, and there are Twitter chats for almost everything. One of the first few chats I was ever in is #blogchat. This Twitter chat has helped me network with other bloggers and get a lot of questions I had about blogging answered. While there are a wide range of bloggers that participate in this chat, you can still find a lot of useful help by participating. If you really want to network with bloggers that are interested in the same topic as you, find a hashtag that fits you. #PRStudChat introduces me to a lot of PR students who are interested in the same field as me and blog about similar topics.
  • Comment on other blogs and share posts. To me, this is very important. Read other blogs and join in on the discussion in the comments. This is a great way to get your name out there and show that you are not just promoting your blog, but other blogs as well.

What are other tips you have for starting bloggers?

Time to Celebrate Grammar!

Happy National Grammar Day!

In honor of National Grammar Day, why not brush up on your grammar skills? As PR students, this is something we definitely need to enhance early on because writing will be a huge part of our future career. So pull out your AP Stylebook and write until you cannot write anymore!

Or just read some of the following articles about common mistakes and why writing skills in PR are vital.

AP Stylebook

5 Skills every PR professional needs

Common Grammar and Punctuation Mistakes

7 Grammar Mistakes that Make Editors Hyperventilate

Affect Versus Effect

There are definitely more blog posts and articles out there, but these can be a starting point for those of you who would like to brush up on your grammar skills today!

How are you celebrating National Grammar Day?

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?