Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Be a proactive internship chaser

Having applied to over 30 internships since I was a senior in high school, I can tell you being proactive in trying to land your first internship - or any internship - will increase your chances of landing the position.

From what I've seen, students spend lots of time sending their applications out to different internships. And once they send the application, they too often just sit back and wait for a response email or phone call. The typical internship won't call or email back right away or even confirm they received your materials - which is why I suggest being proactive.

Typically, it's best to wait between 1-3 weeks to follow up. After the waiting game, find the human resources contact and CALL (unless they specifically say no phone calls). Don't leave a message initially, but make sure to log who you contacted and when.

A spreadsheet or hand-written log of internships you have applied for is very useful to stay organized. A typical log should contain: name of internship applied to, contact person, contact information, date you sent your application, date you initially followed up, date you left a message and any other information pertaining to each specific internship you applied for.

After 2-3 unsuccessful attempts at phoning your prospective internship, leave a detailed voice message saying (in this order) your :
  • Full name
  • Why you're calling - e.g., " follow up on an internship application I submitted on [insert date].."
  • The action you would like them to take - e.g., "..I am calling to check where you are at in the internship selection process and to see if you received my application and would like to set up an interview.."
  • Phone number with area code
  • Re-state your full name, that you are following up on a submitted internship application, and your phone number
  • Thank you, Mr. or Ms. [last name]
After you leave a voice message, also send them an email saying essentially the same thing as above. Don't be afraid to be annoying. As long as you are polite and don't send a parade of messages at your prospective internship, you are only increasing your chances of getting that interview.

For most professionals, contacting potential interns is not the atop their priority list - so let's make their job easy by standing out from the rest by being proactive, polite and professional.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Fearless interview preparation

After applying for the summer internship program at Burson-Marsteller, the world's sixth largest public relations agency, I never expected to make it an interview from nearly 800 applications nationwide.

Sure enough, this was the position I found myself in. Looking at my dream internship straight in the face, I spent hours researching the ins and outs of Burson. I read every single employee testimonial on the 'Burson Person' page on their Web site and I feel like I read every single page on the Burson Web site.

I accessed my internal memory for questions that I was asked during previous interviews. I prepared responses for every one of them. I practiced them out loud to MYSELF. Yes, this felt weird at the time, but it helps to practice articulating each answer. It also helped to make mental notes of when I said something especially dumb or especially engaging. I had the responses typed out neatly with talking points for each area.

My preparation paid off and after the first interview I advanced to the final round of interviews. From the 120 applications submitted to the Chicago office, 10 were selected for final interviews. After the first interview the field was narrowed even further which I was still a part of.

Unfortunately, a phone call informed me that there was no funding for the public affairs practice for which I was applying. No dream internship, not now at least. There was nothing I did wrong, just the economy and bad luck.

While I didn't get the internship, my intense preparation will make the next job/internship interview that much easier. I also got practice interviewing for a worldwide PR agency and learning how to act on a phone interview.

My advice would be to fearlessly prepare for every interview like it's the only one you get; because even if you don't get the job, you'll be that much more prepared the next time around.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Reaching Generation Y

By Rachel Kirby, University of Florida

A new generation of young people has arrived. A technologically-savvy generation used to a frantic pace, these young people never look up from their phones, and are always on their way to the next appointment. They communicate through text messaging and rely on blast e-mail updates for their daily news, trying to keep pace with today’s ever-advancing world of technology and making it hard for public relations professionals to keep up.

This is our generation.

Read the full story (from PRSSA's Forum online publication) at

so what's this path?

I created on the PR path to share my experiences and involvement in college as I pursue a career in Public Relations. The intent of this blog is to provide a valuable resource for other students pursing careers in mass communication. I'll share what I have learned about public relations and offer advice, tips and opinions on how to best position yourself as a rising public relations prospect. I'm always interested in how other Journalism students are staying connected, what internships they've done, and the knowledge they have; so I figured it'd be beneficial if I share mine.

Please enjoy and always feel free to share your insight with me.