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If you’ve read this blog for a while, you would know that when making entry-level hires, Peppercomm looks to it’s current and former pool of interns first. In fact, we’d say about 1 out of 4 of our employees is a former intern. Here’s a few examples of our former interns who now work full-time here (I’m a former Pepperomm intern, too): Maddie Skahill, Chris Piedmont, Mandy Roth, Colin Reynolds and Nicole Hall. Seriously, those are just to name a few, I can certainly go on. A good testament to our retention is probably current senior director and former Peppercomm intern, Sara Whitman.

So you can always go to any of these amazing communications stars for tips and tricks of how to turn that internship into a full-time job, but we also loved the stories in this Forbes article: How To Turn Your Internship Into A Job: Three Real-Life Stories.

After you’ve read that article, let us know if you have any tips of your own or any questions on how to land that dream job.



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School’s Out for Summer!

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Want to know what it’s like to be an intern at the very best strategic communications firm in the world? Check out this very special RepTV featuring a current and two former interns (who are now full-time employees.

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Today’s guest post was written by star Peppercomm intern, McKenzie Clark.


Today marks the 40th day of the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag on Twitter; and still, not one of the 276 girls abducted from their school in the town of Chibok in the Borno State of Nigeria has been rescued. These girls, who are anywhere between 15 to 18 years of age, went to school like any other day, but were met by Boko Haram before they had the chance to return home (I just saw an article post that four girls have escaped, too).

Since the day of this horrific kidnapping on April 15, the news hit the ground running on social media.

On April 23, Nigerian Lawyer Ibrahim Abdullah posted a tweet with the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls which spun into an international movement to get these young Nigerian schoolgirls back to their homes without harm. While the movement hashtag trended worldwide (and for good reason) because of Nigeria’s lack of action, celebrities have started chiming in on the issue by posting pictures of themselves, on their social media accounts, holding signs that say either “#BringBackOurGirls” or “Real Men Don’t Buy Girls.” The Cannes Film Festival, which runs May 14th through May 25th, has also proved to be an opportune moment for actors to hold up the famed “slogan” showing their support for rescuing these girls.


But how much do these well-known celebrity actors and actresses know about the situation at hand? Do they even know where Chibok is? Several journalists have speculated “The Expendables 3” cast only held up their freshly copied signs to gain more PR for their movie at Cannes. Does this mean this sign of support may not be as “heartwarming” as the public originally thought? If these celebrities were truly passionate about the cause, I would sure hope they are doing more than just holding signs at their red carpet event. Maybe they are and we just don’t hear about that.

Social media, the hero and potential villain of our generation, is undoubtedly one of the fastest ways to spread news and trends around the globe. But does it actually educate the population about worldwide issues or does it simply encourage users to just follow along blindly? With the transformative power of social media, news of a global tragedy needs to be used as a means of change and not self-promotion. To me, the mission seems to be lost when posters are held by celebrities on the red carpet.

What’s your take? Do you find these displays of online activism sincere or too promotional?

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We All Make Mistakes

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MistakenI’ve been this way since I was young—but I am usually hardest on myself. In fact, there have been times when I did something wrong and instead of getting a punishment from my parents, they just let it go because they knew I had learned from said mistake and had agonized over it for a while (which is probably like three days in “kid time”).

As an adult, I have learned to balance how hard I am on myself, but now really try to make the most of when I make a mistake (which I still do because, SURPRISE, I’m human).

So what does that mean? We all hate making mistakes—in and out of the workplace. Sometimes they are small ones that no one notices or other times they’re larger ones that require someone above you to smooth out for you.

The important takeaway is to own up to what you did, apologize and learn from it. Learning from any size mistake goes beyond just “not doing it again,” but also requires you to think about the steps that led you to that mistake and why it was wrong. It might be small or it could be a bit more complicated.

A good rule of thumb is also to talk to a trusted colleague, friend or mentor about mistakes, especially the bigger ones that aren’t as clear cut. They can help you navigate the waters if you’re unsure and even help to pinpoint why something was wrong.

I for one still am bothered by mistakes I have even made just a few years ago in the workplace. I still remember mistakes I made in school, too. But in those instances, I will never forget what happened and try not to let it happen again.

Any mistakes you’d care to share? Or lessons learned? How do you handle when you make a mistake?

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As a devoted fangirl of all things Jimmy Fallon, you can imagine the heartbreak that ensued when I woke up on Tuesday morning only to realize that I’d slept through the premier of “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.”

A Jimmy computer background and “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” magnet contribute to my work “deskorations,” along with the wristband I wore to go on the set when I had the chance to see the show live back in September. Jimmy was certainly a driving force behind my comedic interest, and I’ve watched his SNL audition video more times than I can count. But when I really take a moment to analyze why I admire the guy so much, it’s not his dreamy portrayal of Ben Wrightman in the 2005 flick “Fever Pitch,” nor is it his uncanny resemblance to “How I Met Your Mother’s” Ted Mosby. It’s not even his boyish charm, nor his remarkable ability to pull an accurate impression of anyone on the planet. Nay; the main reason I’ve been “Fallon” for Jimmy since his first appearance on “SNL” is his obvious passion for his career.

While it likely provoked a cringing Lorne Michaels, I always adored the “SNL” skits where Jimmy would have no choice but to surrender to his own laughter. A prime example is in the classic “More Cowbell” skit, when a drumming Jimmy just can’t contain himself in the presence of a muffin-topped Will Farrell. Jimmy’s zeal for his profession is further evidenced by his handling of the “Tonight Show” debacle of 2010.

In the heat of a Jay/Conan head-to-head, Jimmy’s slot was affected also, and yet he retorted with class, remaining neutral and grateful for the opportunity he had. He even took a moment to praise both Conan and Jay for helping him become the host of Late Night. Fast-forward to Jimmy’s “Tonight Show” premier (which I’ve since watched), when he said, “I just want to do the best I can, and take care of the show for a while.” Yes, Jimmy’s always had a way of making his enthusiasm for his profession shine through in every aspect of his career—I could go on and on.

Contrary to what you might think, I’m not writing this post in hopes that Jimmy will read it and invite me to join him on stage at tomorrow’s “Tonight Show” (though I’d gladly accept!); but I’m writing to urge you, whoever you are, to find an occupation you love. It doesn’t have to be your first job. It doesn’t have to come with big bucks. Just tap into your interests, weigh your opportunities, and find something that has you aching to do your best; something you want to take care of for a while.

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The Nicknames We Love

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It’s February 13th and love is in the air. In the spirit of Valentine’s Day we want to discuss one thing I love about the industry–the nicknames.

Whether they’re wildly off or spot-on, no one can deny that we’re “loveable” in the industry, so that must be why we’re given nicknames:

  • Spin masters or spin doctors. So, I definitely don’t agree with this one, but sometimes I suppose SOME do have to put a “spin” on things, but then you get a terrible sense of what we do. However, I do like the musical group, so I will take this as a compliment.
  • Flack.  From my quick online research I see that the origin of this name is unknown, but started popping up in the 40s. It feels very “His Girl Friday” and that I might start talking like an old timey reporter. I’m into it.
  • PR pros. Everyone calls themselves a “PR pro” on Twitter and other social media. But why? The only “pros” I hear in any titles is really with “professional wrestlers.”That is a connection I don’t think the industry needs.

What are your thoughts on the nicknames? Are there any you especially love or hate?

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My first job: Golf Caddy

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Today’s guest post was written by Peppercomm account executive, Colin Reynolds.

My first job, like most I would imagine, provided countless learning opportunities and life lessons – for better or worse. But my first gig also taught me several unique tactical skills, many of which I still practice on a daily basis.

I learned how to manage different personalities and situations, gained the wherewithal to identify and react to a potential crisis in a composed and lucid manner, and lastly – and this was most important to my clientele – I developed an uncanny ability to read any putt inside of 12 feet.

It was the summer of 2001 and the ink on my first driver’s license was barely dry. I was young, able-bodied, and newly mobile. I was also the newest caddie at my local golf club.

What I gained from this experience, besides a few free rounds and an occasional sore shoulder, was how to handle people at their best – but especially at their worst. Here are a few takeaways from that summer that have stuck with me all this time:

  • Know your client: Everyone is different and I had to learn how to approach and manage various personalities. On the course, some players loved to chat and others DID NOT. While some folks were easy going, others were more, let’s just say, serious. As a caddie, it was my job to identify who was who and adjust accordingly – sometimes on the fly. I wouldn’t want to make a joke or be too playful around the more serious players, or come across as boring or stiff with the looser ones. It was up to me to know exactly what I was getting into and act appropriately for the given situation.
  • Read more than just the green: Similarly to the last note, a caddie’s job is all about making a player feel good and confident in his/her golf game. However, a missed putt here or errant drive there can make even the most comfortable player tense and irritable – and given the nature of the game, this can change in an instant. That’s where body language and other cues become very important. I would do my best to pull a player out of a rut by providing advice and keeping the mood light, but sometimes they would just want to be left alone with their thoughts, and that was ok too. But it was on me to know when to push and when to back off.
  • Be prepared: Golfers pay pretty good money to enjoy a relaxing round – especially if they’ve opted for a caddie. It was my responsibility to be as prepared as possible to show the extra investment was worth it. I knew everything about that course, from different green speeds and bunker lies, to accurate distances and necessary club selection. I owed it to my clients to know the course. It’s irresponsible to approach any professional situation unprepared, especially when others are counting on you.
  • Be confident: Always speak with confidence, even if you’re not 100 percent sure – and even if you have to add a caveat to let your client know you’re not 100 percent sure, do it with confidence. If I thought a player was in-between clubs, I’d let him/her know, but I would do it in an assuring manner. You want your client feeling poised and assured – no one takes advice from someone that sounds wavering or uncertain. You’re the expert, own it.
  • Always be closing: Believe it or not, caddies are highly competitive with each other and certain players are more fun – and profitable – to caddy for. Beyond basic golf acumen, I also had to sell myself and as well as the club to keep players coming back and requesting my services. Maintaining repeat customers is always a clear indication of a job well done, so I would go above and beyond to prove that the client made the right choice by enlisting my help.
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Today’s guest post was written by Peppercomm account executive, Samantha Bruno.

My first official job was at The Inflation Station, an inflatable bounce house for kid in New Jersey. I started working there with three friends, creating an ideal situation for a high school student who could only work Saturdays during the school year and who was incredibly preoccupied with having constant social interaction.

I began as a ride monitor, which is in fact as boring as it sounds. Spending what felt like endless shifts on the outskirts, watching children and their families bounce around while shrieking with joy and laughter.  The occasional scared two year old or injured child in need of a first aid kit was not nearly enough fuel to make the shift go any faster.

Then I became a party host and the game changed.  I was now being asked to run on-site birthday parties, work with families and spend time with little children on their special day. I was also able to earn tips in addition to my hourly wage.  Instead of sitting and watching the fun happen around me, I was being tasked to help create the level of fun that was being experienced!

At the time, the owner Steve, who was quirky but innovative – no, not Steve Cody of Peppercomm, although I am now realizing that I have worked for multiple men named Steve with similar dispositions– was all about fostering a fun environment while making as much money as possible. A business principle, I found rather effective. When your employees enjoy the atmosphere at work and are happy, they produce better results, a principle that is also front and center here at Peppercomm (the parallels are seemingly endless).

As juvenile as the job may have been, little did I realize it taught me skills that I have carried into my adult professional career.  Here are a few learnings I can undeniably attribute to my time spent with the inflatables.

1)      Work Hard, Play Hard: Your work can also be fun. There is something to be said about liking where you work because you truly take pleasure in what you do for a living.

2)      Take the job seriously but never take yourself too serious: When it came to the inflatables, it was important to follow instructions and protocol.  The potential of having someone injured on a ride was a serious liability that, despite customers signing their life away on the waiver, was something management was naturally trying to avoid. That being said, no one wanted an inflatable Nazi, who banned fun in the name of “because I said so.” Instead, put yourself in the shoes of a five year old (actually that’s a bad metaphor since they were required to take them off before entering the play area…) and remember not to stress the little things. Even now, I pride myself on taking my work seriously, but not taking myself too seriously or coming across too harsh with my coworkers, clients, etc.

3)      You don’t have to leave work at work: Although it is important to be able to separate yourself from work so you can regroup and return again the next day at the top of your game, the relationships you build with coworkers do not have to be turned off at the end of the day. It was important to me to have friends at work in high school the same way it is important to me now. Not only does it make the work day more pleasant, I have been able to cultivate long-lasting relationships with co-workers that extend long past 5:30 p.m.

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In this guest post from Catharine Cody, junior account executive at Peppercomm, Catharine shares some lessons learned from her first job.


You know how everyone says that the best time of their life was in college? They say it because it’s true. College was amazing. We had a free gym, the luxury to make our own schedules and we were finally of legal age to drink! I blame college for the cold slap of reality I received the day I started my first real job.

After parlaying a few successful internships at NBC into a full time Production Assistant job, I realized that college taught me very little.  The earliest I ever woke up in college was 9:30am, and that was a bad day! Most of my classes didn’t start until after 11:00am.  That meant that I could wake up and watch a solid hour of Wife Swap before even washing my face.

So, you can imagine my consternation when I found out my new hours: Thursdays & Fridays 8-4pm and Saturdays & Sundays 4am-4pm.  That’s a 40 hour week smashed into four days.  Goodbye carefree days of my youth!

After a few months, however, I settled into a nice routine.  I would go to bed on Friday nights at 8pm and wake up at 2:45am in order to get to the studio by 3:45.  During my time there, I created graphics to accompany the news segments, wrote copy and edited video. By the time 4pm rolled around on Sunday I had the biggest feeling of accomplishment, like, EVER.  Monday-Wednesdays were spent catching up on sleep.  I had no social life, and stopped hanging out with the majority of my friends.

Unfortunately, Comcast bought NBC in 2011 causing many jobs to be cut, including mine.  But, I’ve never ONCE regretted my time spent at MSNBC.  I even got to meet some cool amazing famous people like Snooki, Mike Tyson and Bradley Cooper.  I met more high-caliber celebrities like Ariana Huffington & Bob Woodward, too.  I also learned some valuable lessons that I’ve taken with me to my current job:

  • School is cool, but doesn’t prepare you for the real world. Class at 10am? Really guys? In what world does work start at 10am? Questioning professors makes you look good in class, but some bosses don’t want to be second-guessed.
  • Complaining gets you nowhere.  Don’t complain to your boss that your commute sucks and you’ve been up for hours.  Chances are s/he’s been up and working a lot longer and harder than you.
  • Follow instructions. Working is hard.  Following instructions is even harder. Bosses and supervisors get mad when you don’t follow their instructions. So, just do it right the first time.
  • True friends are hard to find. Most of your friends will eventually stop asking you to hang out when you constantly say you are working, or too tired.  True friends never stop asking you to hang out and will work to find time that works for both of you.
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The power of a PR degree, Part II

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If you’ll recall, Laura recently lead a discussion surrounding a PR Daily article on whether or not a public relations degree is necessary to be successful in the industry.  Having achieved a PR degree from Virginia Tech in May, I thought I’d weigh in on the issue to provide a fresh grad’s perspective.

In all honesty, when I first read the PR Daily story, I felt empowered by my newly obtained degree. I thought, “Chicka chicka yeah, PR degree, PR degree! I have mine and am now a leg up on everyone because Staci Harvatin said so!” Unfortunately for me, this spree of entitlement was short-lived; when I actually took a couple minutes to consider Staci’s words, I realized just how much I’d come to question her conclusions.

While I don’t doubt that my communication classes provided me with a solid foundation of industry knowledge, I can confidently say that my business and entrepreneurship classes had just as much of an influence on my career preparation. Another point to consider is the fact that experience speaks for itself. A little time in the trenches and your specific degree choice will take on a more supplemental role.

Peppercomm recently held an off-site meeting of the minds where we gathered to discuss the company’s evolving role in our rapidly changing industry. One topic of conversation was the fact that PR is becoming less of an industry and more of a service offering within a larger strategic communications umbrella. The reality is, firms that offer public relations services exclusively are less likely to “make it” in today’s technologically driven world; they’ll simply be expunged by agencies that can supply a wider array of offerings. Stricter competition calls for enhanced creative processes…and imaginative thinking is much more likely to occur when diverse minds are brought together—meaning employees with differing backgrounds and degrees!

Considering our transforming trade, it’s more ridiculous than ever to assume that PR is the only degree choice that will suffice. To clarify, I’m certainly not suggesting that a PR degree it’s a poor selection—I’m just saying it’s not the only practical choice for a successful future in the strategic communications field.

What’s your take on the issue? Please let us know in the comments below!

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Intern Podcast

To find out more about life as a Peppercom intern, check out this podcast produced by former Peppercom interns who share their experiences. Click Here