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?

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: http://www.linkedin.com/in/amfunderburk1