Saturday, 23 March 2013

The 5 Types of PR Internships

Back in December I brought up searching for an internship. More specifically, for an unpaid internship that you can complete while still in your PR classes. If you want to check out more on searching for and finding one check out Step 8.

Since January I have been doing my own PR internship at a small marketing agency that does work for non-profits and municipalities. As of yesterday I am done! It feels great to have the experience under my belt as my job search comes to an apex. But I want to talk about the different types of internships you may encounter. Some people have great internships, others not so much, so I want to look at what me and my peers have gone through with our internships. Always remember - Stay Positive.

The Different Types of Internships

1. The Pain-in -the... I Mean Challenging Internship
This one is where you become the person who does everything for the people in charge. You are a student and an intern, but all of a sudden you are doing the boss's work. Better yet, they don't have to pay you to do their work. And on top of writing up assignments that seem never ending that they infringe on your schoolwork, you are also expected to keep the coffee pot filled. And they may not even give you a thumbs up at the end of it all, which hurts the most.

Quote about FailingLesson: Even when an internship turns sour you need to make the best of it. This kind of experience will help you realize that life isn't fair and jobs aren't always like you imagined. You will get tougher, but from now on you will also treat others beneath you with respect. So at the end of the day, if you get some portfolio pieces and a new outlook on working, consider this worthwhile.

2. The Do-Nothing All Day Internship
This internship has you showing up eager, excited and ready to learn, only to sit staring at a computer screen for most of the day. Maybe they give you a few menial tasks here and there, but you don't feel like you are contributing or accomplishing much. This can be just as bad as being swamped. Because when you are not engaged in your work, you start to become slack and negative.

Lesson: Again make the best of it. Sure you can work on some school assignments, but why not take initiative and suggest some things you can do to help them. They may not know it, but they need serious help with their social media. That is just one example. And if you are afraid they will turn you down, just do it and then show them. They may just like it, and if they do, add it to the portfolio. And get a great reference, that way your time was worth it.

3. The Cat-on-Your-Lap Internship
This one happens sometimes. You choose to do an internship out of someone's home office. They have just started out and they are more than willing to take on a student for free work. But it turns out to be not what you expected. You work in a not so well-lit room in their basement where their cat insists on sitting on your lap while you write media releases.

Lesson: The office doesn't make the experience. You still get to write media releases and have something to put in your portfolio. Besides, cats are awesome, just don't where your good pants. Again make the best of it. Make yourself feel legitimate by setting up a space and bringing some nice pens and notebooks. Now you're in business.

4. The Out-of-Town Internship
So you wanted to get an internship in the big city, but now you are commuting 2 hours one way! Count 4 hours of traveling for an unpaid internship (actually you are paying out of your pocket to do it) that is not guaranteed to go anywhere. You have to wake up at 5 a.m. cause you don't have a car, but at least you are working with real agency people.

Lesson: Sometimes you have to make sacrifices to get great opportunities. Maybe you could have negotiated for them to pay for a bus pass even if they aren't paying you. But regardless, you are proving dedication, so stick with it. Use your commute time wisely and you will no doubt come out with some great references and portfolio pieces.

5. The Why-is-Everyone-in-my-Class-Here Internship
You thought you had snatched up a cool, unique internship right out from under your classmates nose. But wait, a few days after you start, classmates start popping up and now there are 4 of you working there. Now you don't feel so special.

Lesson: This is not a bad thing. The company obviously likes what you and your classmates do. Good news for your PR program. The main thing here is that you may need to work harder to stand out. So do just that. Work hard and don't get slack just because your classmates wants to hang around and joke all day long. Be professional, after all they are your future colleagues as well.

Overall, not all internships are made equal and everyone will feel differently about their situation. Don't compare yours to someone else's. And don't back down, nothing looks worse than someone who doesn't follow-through. No matter the work experience, you have to make the best out of it. I know I said this a lot, but people who can do this tend to go farther professionally.

How do you know if your internship was good? Ask yourself: "Did I learn something new? Did I meet new people? Did you end up with a reference? Did you get a portfolio piece? If you answered yes to at least 3 of these (which most will) then you did great!

How do you feel about internships? What have your internship experiences been like?

P.S. I love PR!

Friday, 15 March 2013

The Art of Reading!

I have a confession to make. I read a lot. I mean a lot. Not just the passing-by kind of reading, or going through Tweets. I read… Books. Yes paperback, hardcover, new releases, literary classics, fiction, non-fiction. I do it every day, more than once. And worse, I will do it anywhere, at school or on the bus and yes, alone in my room. I’ve decided it is time that I reach out and do something about my obsession with reading…

What you ask? Well, I have decided the first step is to admit that I have an obsession. I have been an avid reader my whole life, but it wasn’t until I was 11 that it became a serious problem. I can’t even leave my home without a good book! What if the bus is late or I am waiting for my friends? Sadly, unlike my peers social media just doesn’t have the same effect on me as reading does.

Quote about Reading
Now that I have admitted that I am a bibliophile, I am determined to share, be open and honest with people. That is where my blog comes in. I think the only way I can justify some of my reading is to share it with you. That is why in addition to my career journey tips and PR insights I will be posting book reviews. 

The fact is nothing replaces a good book. I don’t care if you want to read the e-version to be all futuristic, a book is a book. And they are full of amazing stories and information. If you are looking to escape the boredom of reality, you can pick up a fictional book and disappear into an alternate world. Or if you want to grow your knowledge and become “well-read” on a topic, you can delve into a non-fiction piece that really opens your eyes.

Reading is important to me. It has helped shape who I am today. Because I have always loved to read, I grew to love to write. And because I love to write, I grew to love PR. And because I love PR, I grew to love blogging. And because… well you get the point. Reading and writing to me go hand-in-hand, so you can imagine how full my hands are.

The best part about reading is that you are doing 2 things simultaneously. Yes, two things. You are learning something (some random detail, some historical fact or some obscure word) and you are being entertained (by dramatic suspense, a tear-wrenching moment, a funny joke). Many people believe that bookworms are boring or weird. I disagree. Reading makes your mind sharp; I can pull a fact out of thin air, I can tell you a story that you will relate to or I can tell you how I know I am right about something. What I am trying to say is that reading can give you power. Not so boring and weird now is it?

Book Love; Reading Addiction
Before I go any further and turn this post into a book itself, I will tell you about the kind of books I will review. To keep it relevant to PR or young professionals I will review non-fiction books only. I will review new releases or books that are timely. I already have books in mind that include topics like creativity, curiosity, professional development, personal growth, career advancement, building success and business savvy. Stay tuned, as my first reviews will be Amanda Lang’s The Power of Why, Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point and Arlene Dickinson's Persuasion.

Let me know what you think about reading and book reviews. What kind of books would you like to see reviews for related to PR, marketing and business? 

P.S. I Love PR

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Step 14 - 3 Steps for Mastering the PR Job Search

Be Prepared for After Graduation

Job searching is one of the most time-intensive and stressful processes of graduating. This time last year, I was relieved to not have to search for a job, knowing that I would be going back to school. Now that my postgrad is coming to an end, job searching has become a must. I have to say that I began the process a couple months ago, and now that I am in the midst of it I can share with you some of the things I have been doing and some of the interesting tips I have learned along the way.

Job searching has its ups and downs. It can become overwhelming, especially if you don’t know what you are looking for. This is why you need to know your career goals before you throw yourself into the search for the perfect job upon graduation. Check out my post on assessing you career path.

#1 - Where to Look
The first step in my job search involved answering the question: “where will I look?” One of the most obvious answers was job search engines, but even these can be confusing. There are so many to choose from. So I discovered that the best ones to use are the engines that compile job postings from various sources, which saves you a lot of time.

#2 - Hidden Market 
Another question I needed to answer was: “where else am I going to look?” Because in this day and age you can’t rely on job boards and search engines. Thousands of people are looking at these sites as well, so your application can get lost in the process. A better place to look is LinkedIn jobs, which will suggest jobs that match your career field. Twitter is also quite useful, as people in online networks often tweet job opportunities. Also, I have been keeping a keen eye on certain career pages of company websites. I like using RSS feeds for career postings or even job alerts. These deliver potential jobs straight to your computer.

Ultimately, knowing where to look is important as it will make the job search more effective, but remember, only 20 to 30% of jobs happen this way (the rest is from networking). So you may need to take a more proactive approach.

#3 - Timing of Search
Another thing that I have figured out is that timing is important for job searching. Certain times of the day are better than others, and certain days of the week yield more job search results. When you find an opportunity you like, you also have to keep deadlines in mind. I like to leave time to research the company so I can personalize my application. I keep track of the dates I apply on, so I know when to follow-up. And following-up is essential.

Job searching is not easy. Start out with these simple steps, and work from there. This is how I am making this process work while I am in school. With more time I would take more active approaches. Regarding the proactive approach remember that networking is an asset. Every once in a while I will reach out to companies I like to let them know how I can be an asset to their team. I also think letting people in your network know that you are looking is a good thing too.  Proactive strategies will compliment more passive approaches and make your job search efforts worthwhile.

So I would like to ask you, how do you go about job searching, do you have some tips to share?

P.S. I love PR.