Archive for Career Advice

Today’s guest post is by Peppercomm business affairs supervisor, Kelly Lorenz

 

IMG_8492 Early to rise! That phrase is never music to a teenager’s ears, especially during summer break. However, I was an anomaly. My first job when I was 14-years-old was working on a horse farm, starting in the wee hours of the morning, often before the sun even came up. Translation: I shoveled horse poop and avoided getting kicked in the face by aggressive stud horses. But that’s not all my work experience chalked up to be – it was only the beginning.

To be clear, I had my own horses growing up so I was accustomed to cleaning stalls, throwing large bales of hay and all of the dirty work that comes with these incredible animals. But that was for three horses, not 30, and I was riding solo in this job.

Even though temperatures were in the 90s by early-morning and I wore jeans and boots, I look back on this work experience for giving me the most fun and rewarding summer of my youth. In fact, I’d do this every summer if I could. In the meantime, I carry a few lessons with me to this day:

-          Take pride in your work, no matter the task. Nobody wants to shovel s%#t, but somebody has to. So do it right, and do it well. I could have had a negative attitude and complained about the task, but instead I shoveled that dung like a rock star. My supervisor noticed and said the stalls had never been cleaner, done so quickly or without complaint. She hired two more people to take over most of that work so I could focus on other (less smelly) tasks.

-          Seek out opportunities. Growing up I mostly rode for pleasure and recreation, and my horses were well-trained. Many of the horses at the farm were owned by renowned riders and trainers who had a lot of expertise to share. As I built a rapport with the owners that summer, they saw how I handled their animals. So, they offered me complimentary training and most allowed me to train on their horses. Additionally, many offered me side jobs to exercise their horses at an hourly rate that’s nearly triple today’s minimum wage.

-          Capitalize on your strengths. There were many moving pieces and varying factors to completing this work in timely manner each day. For one, just like people, horses can be somewhat temperamental. Some horses can’t be around other horses (especially studs with mares…hello baby colts!), other horses can’t be removed from their stalls and the damn donkey that bites everyone/thing, but begs to socialize is another story. Not to mention the large ground you’re covering and the amounts of manual labor you’re required to complete in a short period of time. Here, organization and efficiency was everything. This is when I realized I had a strength for process and execution which are skills I use to this day in my professional life. I can steer a wheelbarrow while in a full sprint like a champ.

So, what was the biggest lesson learnt while shoveling dung? Turn work into play and you’ll never work a day in your life. I’d be fooling myself if I said this job wasn’t exhausting and dirty. This job was also a blast! Aside from working with horses, my one true love – horses –, I watched the sunrise over the mountains each morning, dunked friends in horse troughs of ice cold water and made human electric fence shock chains (not advised, and I was only 14). Not to mention my toned biceps, blond hair and killer farmers tan were the envy of every country girl when we returned to school in the fall.

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You’ve done it. You may have just graduated from college or perhaps finished a post-college internship, but either way, it’s your first entry-level job. There are so many factors to consider, many of which we cover in this blog, but wanted to share this great piece from US News & World Report on the 10 things you need to know when beginning that first job.

These are also great tips for those in an internship.

Any other tips you’d add?

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Aug
22

There, there, it’ll be okay

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It’s Friday and we saw this and thought it was hilarious. We love our interns and definitely work to mentor them, not do this (which we found on #iworkinpr):

Trying to comfort a stressed intern

Trying to comfort a stressed intern

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Aug
08

My First Job: In A Nutshell

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Today’s guest post is by Peppercomm associate, Madeline Skahill. 

While I have had my fair share of babysitting jobs and teaching younger kids the ropes of soccer at camp, my first “real” job all began during the warm summer months of Williamsburg. When you say “Williamsburg” to a group of New Yorkers, they automatically assume the trendy neighborhood of New York. However, when you say “Williamsburg” to anyone who has ever been on a field trip or have grandparents who live in the south, they think of Colonial Williamsburg; the mecca of bonnets, cannons, and daily reenactments  of 18th century life.

The summers in Colonial Williamsburg were where the tourists went to play and the high school students sought summer jobs. As a majority of my friends obtained jobs as hostesses at neighboring restaurants, I was lucky enough to land a job as a Sales Associate at “The Williamsburg Peanut Shop.” While I can’t say I ever felt a true passion behind how peanuts were made and seasoned, I can say that my summer months spent in the small store located on the corner of a bustling street, taught me a few lessons I will always be able to apply in my career.

  • Perform at your best, no matter what task you are completing: My first day on the job consisted of grabbing a fork from the back room and picking out the melted chocolate covered peanuts from the cracks of the wooden floor. While some may say this may not seem like the most ideal task, I knew if I did not get this job done right, my entire summer would be spent performing similar tasks.  Dedicating myself to this task, left the floors clean and my manager happy about my positive attitude and efficient works style. This was the last time I ever scrubbed the floors.
  • The customer is always right: This may not be entirely true, but for the most part dealing with an unhappy customer, or client, makes the task at hand, much more challenging. Understanding the needs of the customer, not only makes your job easier, but allows you to complete the job right and in a timely manner.
  • Never under-estimate your skills: Although I worked with a fair amount of people my age, the managers of the store were much older. That being said, I quickly learned that in order to gain more responsibly in the store, I had to show the managers I could think and act on their level.  By contributing to conversations about what products to buy for the store or how to handle the store operations when a summer storm knocks the power out, I was able to close the age gap between my co-workers and myself. While my ideas and thoughts may not have always been right, I did not let the age gap hinder the jobs I deserved to manage.

These are just a few tips I learned along the way, though I have many more stories to share. Unfortunately for you all, there is not enough time in the day to discuss the life lesson I learned from standing outside the store in a peanut hat for 2 hours.

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In today’s post, meet current Peppercomm NYC intern and future communications star, Marlee Murphy

 

1)     Tell us about yourself—where did you/do you go to school, where are you from and what brought you to Peppercomm?

My name is Marlee Murphy and I am a week away from beginning my senior year at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill! I am double majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication, and Political Science. My specific track within the journalism school is Strategic Communications (a mix of advertising and public relations). During this past school year, I was a nanny for a few families, worked at QSR Magazine as an editorial intern and led Wyldlife—part of Young Life for those of you who are familiar with the organization.

Now that you’re filled in on my professional background, here are some fun facts about me! I am the oldest of four children, I think coffee’s the best thing since sliced bread, my face is in a Coca-Cola commercial and I adore the color blue. Good start?

I’m from a fairly small town in Rowan County, North Carolina named Salisbury. Ever heard of Cheerwine (the soft drink), Food Lion or F&M Bank? All of these originated in Salisbury. While growing up in small town USA could be boring at times (a “raging” Friday night is considered swinging by fast food restaurant Cook Out and possibly hitting up the local movie theater), I wouldn’t trade my experiences there for the world. I will confess Salisbury has certainly left its mark on my personality. For example, I love country music, hate techno-y dance clubs, love homemade tea and Bojangles’, hate Snapple and croissants, love being outdoors, hate huge crowds. Now I know what you’re thinking; how in the world did you end up at Peppercomm—aka the heart of New York City?

The story began with an email to Peppercomm in early January inquiring about the internship and company as a whole. I had noticed their name on a list of national top 25 public relations agencies and decided to do some further research. I took note of their awards for great company culture and work environment, and decided the internship was worth pursuing. Unlike many other New York firms, I felt Peppercomm aligned with my personal values and better suited me in terms of company culture and agency size. When I heard back from Peppercomm in March, I was elated! I skyped in for an interview and a few weeks later, I was offered the internship.

Fast forward to today, this has been the summer of a lifetime. Peppercomm exceeded my expectations and is truly a phenomenal place to work and learn. This summer I not only learned more about the industry and agency life, but by stepping outside of my comfort zone, I also learned a lot about myself and have become a more well-rounded individual. I will be forever grateful to Peppercomm for giving me this internship opportunity.

2)     What area of the industry do you find the most appealing and why?

As of now, I am not drawn to a specific sector within PR. While at Peppercomm, I’ve enjoyed working on an array of projects that incorporated a variety of industries. Due to a lighter load of account work, I was able to complete at least a dozen one-offs for an array of clients. All of the interns have appreciated the opportunity to explore the world of PR rather than being pigeonholed in one sector. I’ve also found that I enjoy the strategy and branding side of communications more so than media relations.

3)     Any surprises or revelations about your role, the industry or Peppercomm?

Peppercomm’s office culture and inclusive environment surprised me. Every company claims to have great culture and a welcoming workforce; however, in Peppercomm’s case, the claim was 100 percent true. Peppercomm organizes workout events, hosts pub nights, encourages stand-up comedy, and recognizes birthdays and births. They include the interns in every facet of the company and are happy to help us understand new concepts even if it inconveniences them. They put intern row (our line of open cubicles) in the center of one of the floors. We sit right outside the executives’ office doors, which is an incredible opportunity. Not only do we work side-by-side with account teams, but we also are able to see what the day-to-day is like for communications and PR agency executives. On the first day, we (the six interns) hit the deck running, each on multiple client accounts. I jump from one client to another, creating media lists, drafting tweets, monitoring social media and press mentions, researching, writing blogs, editing, etc. The work never ends (which is a good thing in my opinion), and I’ve loved every minute of it.

4)     Where do you see yourself going in the industry?

Post-graduation, I see myself working for a public relations agency. Interning with Peppercomm this summer demonstrated how important it is to have agency experience when launching a communications career. In most agency settings, you are able to work with a variety of clients with an assortment of unique needs. While working for an agency, you are able to dabble in event planning, branding, strategy, media relations, social media and more. No work day is the same at an agency. In addition to acquiring new skills on a daily basis, you’re constantly learning more about how to better communicate and work as a team. After working at an agency for a while, I would like to open my own small marketing firm or event-planning boutique.

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Today’s guest post was written by Peppercomm’s Jade Moore, manager, client relationships.

My very first job didn’t feel much like one.  My aunt had a friend who ran an upscale (read: overpriced) boutique in my neighborhood in Staten Island, and asked if I’d be interested in working one or two days a week after school.  This place had all of the trappings you might expect from a Staten Island outfitter.  Sequins galore.  I said sure, why not?!  I was a junior in high school and could use some extra cash for buying acrylic nails or whatever horrible thing I was into back then.  Plus, she was a friend of my dear aunt, so she had to be nice to me.

If you’ve ever seen “Happy Endings,” this shop was precisely like the boutique owned by ditzy Alex (played by Elisha Cuthbert) – that is, there were no customers.  Perhaps this place was bustling during prom and wedding season but when I started in the fall – crickets.  I quickly learned that I would be responsible for a few things:  vacuuming, steaming clothes – which, admittedly, I love to do (ironing, not so much) – and affixing price tags onto said clothing items.  The little price-tag gun was fun to use.  Maybe the highlight of my time there.

To be quite honest, given the fact that there was not much to do beyond the tasks outlined above – and the fact that there were, again, no customers – I don’t think I took the job too seriously, in hindsight.  I played with the owners dog.  I challenged myself to find normal-ish clothes for myself among the bedazzled frocks.  I may have napped once.  Yes, you heard correctly.  As a conscientious and responsible adult, I would never pull a George Costanza today.  I’m ashamed to say I did then, but I had a good reason!  See, the night before, I was at Yankee Stadium, watching the Yankees play the Diamondbacks in Game 5 of the 2001 World Series.  An epic, 12-inning win for the Yanks.  I was tired.  I don’t think anyone noticed, but I still feel bad about that.

After a few months,  the owner decided she didn’t really need me anymore and stopped calling me in for work.  Probably for the best that we parted ways.  In the end, I definitely hadn’t learned how to be a master salesperson.  Or even how to use a cash register.  The “no customers” part kind of made these things challenging.  I didn’t really look up to the Boss either.  Let’s just say, she was a little gossipy.  But I took a couple of key lessons away from my brief foray in retail:

  • Put your best foot forward.  Even if you don’t feel like you can contribute much, there’s always something you can do to go above and beyond and add value.  I could’ve used the opportunity to think of and share ways to bring in new customers.  Or ask my boss to give me a lesson in making a sale.
  • Don’t sleep on the job.

There’s something to be learned from every job.  What may not seem like a worthwhile experience can be full of surprises if you keep your eyes and ears open and make the most of it.

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In today’s post, meet current Peppercomm NYC Business Outcomes intern and future industry star, Liz DePlautt

 

1) Tell us about yourself—where did you/do you go to school, where are you from and what brought you to Peppercomm?

My name is Liz DePlautt and I am a rising senior at Washington and Lee University majoring in Economics. I spent the last semester abroad studying in the Netherlands and only a few days after my return I quickly transitioned into working and commuting into the city every day from my hometown Ridgewood, NJ.  My journey to Peppercomm actually started last spring when I applied for a position here my sophomore year. I had heard about the firm through friends who took a trip to the office with our school and saw that they had a Research and Analytics internship. I thought it would be perfect way to combine my experience with economics and my interest in communications. While last summer did not work out I was hooked on the company. When I saw the same position posted for a Research and Analytics intern this past spring I reconnected with Nicole, the head of the Business Outcomes group, right away and sent in my resume hoping that my increased experience this time around would land me the job.

I have previously worked as a business development intern for a non-profit education advocacy organization, a cause I have always been passionate about. I also worked as a marketing intern for a startup internet company helping to build up the presence of a new company. I spent my junior year as part of the Venture Club, an entrepreneurship based group at W&L, as part of their Consulting team, doing research for startups and small business owners to help them expand their businesses. All these experiences have taught me so much but I wanted to work for a company such as Peppercomm, to really get to understand Public Relations and to get to know the ins and outs of a full service agency.

At this point I am more than halfway through my internship and am loving my job, my team and the whole atmosphere here at Peppercomm.

2) What area of the industry do you find the most appealing and why?

As a Business Outcomes team intern I am very interested in the numbers behind a lot of what is going on in Public Relations. I am fascinated by the media’s influence on consumer behavior and why people do what they do. Although data cannot tell us the psychology behind consumer behavior it allows us to piece together the actions of many and then analyze any trends that are happening. From this sort of measurement you can pull insights on how the media and the public are interacting with a company and focus in on things that might be relevant to help a business to better understand their practices and improve.

On my interview for Peppercomm I was asked the question, “Do you tend to look at the big picture or are you more detail oriented?” This question really got me thinking and while my initial reaction was to say detail oriented I realized that the best part about data is how it can accurately depict the big picture. Starting from scouring the web and inputting data into a spreadsheet to then seeing the power of all the small details coming together to an end result is really great and seems to be an increasingly important part of Public Relations.

3) Any surprises or revelations about your role, the industry or Peppercomm?

Peppercomm is my first real experience with PR so just being here, experiencing the  day-to-day, and observing what goes on around me has all been very new and surprising. One aspect is the fact that Peppercomm represents so many different types of clients ranging from TGI Fridays to Ernst & Young. The versatility of all the staff members who are able to juggle so many differing accounts is really awesome to see. I have also been surprised by how much I learn about a new industry just by working on their account. With each account I have worked on so far I have found that I am not only becoming more knowledgeable about the PR industry but also about the industries of the clients as well. Thanks to my work at Peppercomm so far I now know a lot more than I ever would have thought about securities regulation, trash-to-energy technology, and hedge funds, to name a few.

4) Where do you see yourself going in the industry?

Though I still have a lot more to learn about Peppercomm and PR in general I am excited about what I have been exposed to so far. I can definitely see myself getting more involved with behind the scenes analytics and measurement and growing with this niche inside the industry. The unique innovations and new ways to analyze and interpret data going on here in the Business Outcomes division have me excited about the future for data and analytics for Peppercomm and for the PR industry as a whole.

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Jul
30

Summer Sail in San Francisco

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SF-1

Life is about working hard at what you do, but also about finding time for fun adventures.

For our summer outing in San Francisco we decided to set sail and watch the sunset, literally. Our crew of San Francisco and New York employees boarded a sail boat and took in the cool ocean breeze.

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Being out on the ocean you have no choice but to be in the moment and take in the sights, something that doesn’t always happen here on land.

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Looking around the sail boat at all of the laughing and selfies being taken reminded me of how important it is to find a good place to work that makes you happy. If you’re embarking on your own adventure of starting your career or just simply looking for a good place to call your work home be mindful of not only the work you’ll be doing, but also of who you’ll be spending your time with.

SF-4

Setting sail on your own career can be like navigating the deep seas. Have a direction in mind and do your best to stay on course while being prepared for the unexpected.

*All images courtesy of Ali Hughes.

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In today’s post, meet current Peppercomm NYC licensing intern and future industry star, Jaclyn Roberts.

 

1) Tell us about yourself—where did you/do you go to school, where are you from and what brought you to Peppercomm?

I graduated this past May from NYU with a double major in Broadcast Journalism and Political Science. I grew up just outside of Phoenix, Arizona, in a town called Paradise Valley. I love Arizona and it was a wonderful place to grow up, but I fell in love with New York while at NYU and decided that I wasn’t ready to leave yet. I am starting graduate school at Columbia University at the end of August.

While I really enjoyed both of my majors, I decided not to pursue my original plan of working in television news. I realized that that the aspects of these majors that I really loved—writing, storytelling, critical thinking, etc. were all at the core of the communications and public relations fields. Therefore, I decided that I wanted to have an internship in this industry to make sure that it was what I wanted to do. I saw a listing for an internship with Brand² Squared Licensing on NYU’s job listing website. The position sounded interesting because it involved several aspects of the PR. I researched Peppercomm and was extremely impressed by what I read, and then immediately applied to the internship.

 

2) What area of the industry do you find the most appealing and why?

I have really enjoyed working with the licensing division and learning about that aspect of the industry. It’s so exciting to see all the directions a company can go in by collaborating with different companies and creating new products. One of my favorite parts about interning in licensing is that I have been exposed to several different areas of the industry such as business development, market research, brand management, and the creative side.

 

3) Any surprises or revelations about your role, the industry or Peppercomm?

After interning at Peppercomm, I have realized how much I want to pursue a career in the industry. My internship at Peppercomm has been a wonderful experience.  Not only is everyone who works here knowledgeable about the industry and good at what they do, they have also been extremely welcoming and willing to help me learn and get the most out of my internship.

 

4) Where do you see yourself going in the industry?

 I’m very interested in corporate communications and brand management. I am pursuing my master’s degree in Communications Practice with a concentration in Corporate Communications. My dream is to one day be a marketing or corporate communications executive at a financial company or another large corporation.

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Today’s guest post was written by Peppercomm account executive, Ali Hughes.

It sounds more exciting (and tasty) then it turned out to be.

Angelo's #2

My first job was serving ice cream to the masses on the hot, humid days of summer in North East Ohio.  Growing up in a small town outside Cleveland, the closest form of civilization (besides farms) was an ice cream window attached to a small pizza shop. I was thirteen and my dad knew the owners, so naturally he introduced me, and got me my first job. At the young age of 13, I pictured a summer full of free food and cute delivery boys. I had no idea that the work would be so, well… hard.

My first day was a quick run through on how to properly mix the blizzards and milk shakes, while managing to not cut my hands off on the machine. I also learned how to fill the soft serve machine, and defrost the buckets of hard ice cream. The second day I was on my own. I quickly found out that softball players can get pretty mean, pretty fast, when their ice cream isn’t made quick enough. Imagine twenty boys under the age of ten standing in front of you screaming out orders of ice cream. Just when I was on the verge of tears, I managed to dump the bag of liquid soft serve ice cream all over myself – missing the machine by just a few inches. Needless to say I went home pretty upset, despite the many dollar bills shoved into my tip can (I can only assume the tips were out of pity).

Despite my well delivered speech on why I shouldn’t return, my parents dropped me off the next day to face my fears of muddy tee-ball players and sticky ice cream machines. I didn’t become an ice cream wiz over night, but after a month or so I could stand on my own two feet. I became an expert at filling a cone with a perfect swirl of soft serve, and could fill the ice cream machines – two bags at a time.

Despite the rocky start, my first job turned out to be a great opportunity that taught me many life lessons.

  • If you fail at something, never stop trying to succeed. Failure has a different definition for every person.
  • Learn to lean on your coworkers, you don’t have to do everything yourself.
  • It’s ok to laugh at yourself, and let others laugh too.
  • Learn from your mistakes, and tell other people about them before they make the same mistakes themselves.
  • Be very thankful for rainy days.
  • You can never have too much crunch coat.

At the time, my job seemed like the most difficult one in the world. Now I look back on it with fond memories, and realize I was lucky to have a dad to push me into the real world of working for a pay.

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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