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? 

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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?

Twitterquette 101: Lesson Two

Last week was my first lesson in Twitterquette and it covered the basics of what is okay to tweet. This week I thought it would be appropriate to discuss hashtags, and how to use them without stepping on any toes.

I will admit, hashtags are one of my favorite Twitter features. While I use hashtags on a daily basis, and in almost every tweet I compose, I also think there is a right and wrong time to use this awesome feature.

When is the right time to use a hashtag? My answer to this question is simple: whenever you have something to say that you would like to share with other people in the Twittersphere! Hashtags help get your message across to more people than just your followers. Using hashtags is a great way to strike up some interesting discussions regarding public relations, or any topic for that matter. When you use a hashtag just make sure it fits whatever message you are sending. For instance, if you are tweeting a question about public relations and you would like feedback from other students, use a hashtag like #PRStudChat. This is the first hashtag I use if I need advice from fellow PR students or if I have something exciting to share.

Twitter chats is another prime time to use a hashtag. Personally, I love Twitter chats and there are some great ones out there (#PRStudChat, #pr20chat, #internchat and #u30pro to name a few) to get involved with. Twitter chats not only offer a chance to chat with other students and professionals once a week, biweekly or monthly, but they also offer amazing communities that you can build relationships with fellow community members. This is one reason I participate in Twitter chats. I simply love the communities that come with them!

When is the wrong time to use a hashtag? The only time I think it is the wrong time to use a hashtag is if a Twitter chat is going on with that particular hashtag and you randomly send a tweet promoting something. I have seen this happen before and the response was not very pretty from the Twitter chat community. While some communities may not mind, keep in mind that it could rub some communities, or community members, the wrong way.

Other than that, I do not think there is another wrong time to include a hashtag in a tweet. What are your thoughts? When is it right, or when is it wrong, to include a hashtag in a tweet?

Twitterquette 101: Lesson One

Twitterquette: the etiquette of Twitter, something we could all improve on. Some questions that may be asked include the following: what is okay to tweet, how often should I tweet, who should I tweet, how do I get more followers, and the list can go on for decades!

This is a new series I am going to bring to you, my readers, in the hopes it helps us both have better Twitterquette! Here is lesson one, enjoy.

What is okay to Tweet?

Honestly, everyone has a different opinion on what is “okay” to tweet. However, if you are using Twitter for a professional reason, which almost every fellow PR student I follow on Twitter is, there is a definite line of what is okay to tweet and what is not okay to tweet.

When I tweet I always think “what if…” For instance, do not tweet that you are drinking while studying for an exam. You may be in college, but if you tweet that you are having an alcoholic beverage while studying for this huge midterm in one of your PR classes just think, “What if a future employer saw this. What would they think?” If I was an employer and I saw someone that applied for an internship or job at the firm or company I worked at tweet something like this, there goes their shot at that internship or job! Plus, what if they thought you would drink while doing work for the firm or company? There goes your chance to show them what you are made of! So remember, when you tweet play the what-if game. If it is something you would not want an employer or your family to see, do not tweet it!

Something else to keep in mind is you do not want to seem like a robot on your Twitter account. Yes, share news stories to show that you are up-to-date with what is going on in the world, but personalize these tweets! Add your thoughts to a particular news story you read. You may only have 140 characters to get a message across, but trust me, you can say a lot in that many characters! So be personal and remember to engage with your followers!

While it is okay to be personal, do not be too personal. I have seen people I was following get a little too personal and let me just say they were quickly unfollowed, and it takes a lot for me to unfollow someone! So please, and I really stress the word please here, do not share what you sleep in, pick-up lines people are using on you at a bar, or how drunk you are with the Twittersphere. These are things we do not need to know, and in my book make you unprofessional.

There will be more Twitterquette lessons to come! In the meantime, what tips do you have for what tweets are acceptable and what tweets are not?

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?

One Year Later

Exactly one year ago today I started this blog. At the time I had no idea if people would actually read any post I wrote or even how to promote it. Needless to say, I quickly discovered that Twitter is a powerful, and helpful, source to getting the word out about your blog. While my first couple of posts may not have been PR related at all, it was one way for me to start writing more and discover where exactly I wanted to go with my blog. Writing is something I am very passionate about. Growing up I used to keep journals to write about my day and of course I had a LiveJournal account at one point (which I forgot the password to or deleted… not really sure what happened to it).

Blogging, to me and I am sure a lot of other people, is a lot different than a personal journal. Over the past year I have grown my blog to be focused on different aspects of public relations that I love. I will be the first to admit that I am definitely growing and learning more and more about blogging all of the time. I feel like social media is something that everyone always has room to grow and improve on. For me, it is a new project I am going to start at some point this year (hopefully sooner than later!) with my blog. I did not have this idea until I was chatting with Kerry this past Friday when I decided to finally buy my domain name: fortheloveofpr.com. Be on the lookout in the next couple of weeks for the new project I am starting! I would give you a hint, but I am still in the planning process of where I would like to take this.

So here we are, 3,441 views on my blog later: another year of my blog. My promise to you for this coming year is that I will post at least once a week. I always have a lot to say and I like to share with everyone that follows my blog, but I slacked off this past year. I am also full of goals and new aspects of things I would like to blog about. Hope you are ready for this! I know I am. I am ready to bring it on this year, full force!

Thanks to all of you who take the time to read my blog! You guys inspire me to keep writing. You are all great!