Archive for Career Advice

Peppercomm and, really, the industry as a whole, has many that have gone to school for “PR/communications,” but there are just as many who have less traditional majors. We also hire based on a number of different factors, mainly experience and skills. Sometimes that is from a well-known school, sometimes not.

Our company’s co-founder, Steve Cody, likens the search for our summer interns to that of ‘March Madness.’ Do you agree with his assessment in Inc Magazine? I may be a bit biased, but as a Providence College Friar, I appreciate the nod and agree with Steve.

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Mar
26

Calling All Interns

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Having helped run Peppercomm’s intern program for several years–knowing hat to look for in a candidate has become second nature.

We’re always looking for candidates who are:

  • Smart (duh)
  • Capable
  • Quick studies
  • Willing to learn
  • Fit in  with our unique culture

Of course, there are some basic skills that are a must such as great writing and researching skills. It’s always a bonus if you already posses some media relations skills, but those are skills that can certainly be taught.

If you’re interested in our program, SURPRISE, we’re hiring now. Check out our intern program page for more information and how to apply. And if you’re looking for the perfect intern model, here’s a great video to use as a “guide” (maybe don’t do everything from this video . . . or any of it–but who doesn’t love the Muppets): What If The Muppets Were Interns.

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With job searching, finding the job you want is just half the battle. Prospective employees not only need to find the jobs they want to apply to, but it’s always helpful to know someone at said company so you can get your foot in the door. But how can you do that? Networking.

Networking is one of the most important items for a person at every level to do. You never know if that could lead to a new job, finding a good employee for your current job or maybe getting a new client. The possibilities are endless, which is also why it’s always good to meet new people and make sure you maintain relationships. But, how do you network when you’re more entry-level? Where do you go? Here are a few thoughts to get you started:

  1. Set up informational interviews at companies you may want to work for even if they’re not necessarily hiring. This will get you some great face time with the company and potentially allow you to connect with someone at the company.
  2. Stalk LinkedIn. See who in your network might already work at your dream company. Perhaps you already know someone there from college, or there is a friend that can set you up with an introduction to another friend.
  3. #HAPPO/Help a PR Pro Out is a great hashtag to search by on Twitter. Sometimes they have online chats and I have gone to a few in-person events, but many companies will tweet out about jobs using this hashtag.
  4. Go to any and all networking events. These can be a mix of industry events, maybe your college is hosting some, etc. These can be online and in-person, but great to go either way and get your name out there.

So get out there and start networking, it will help you get the job of your dreams (for starters).

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

Lifeguard

As a typical 15 year old girl, my main priorities were hanging out with my friends, not tripping over hurdles during track meets, and finishing my homework in time to watch Gossip Girl (this was pre-DVR era, people). Therefore, my parents really threw a wrench in my summer plans when they told me that it was time to take on some responsibility and get a summer job.

Luckily, I developed my strategic thinking skills early on in life and decided that if I had to get a job, I may as well work on my tan WHILE getting paid. Therefore, I combined my “experience” of watching years of Baywatch episodes on TV and a one-week training course to secure the prime position as the youngest lifeguard at the Easton Town Pool.

While I did get a killer one-piece tan that summer, I also gained some valuable work experience that has helped me get where I am today.  Similar to my colleagues’ first jobs, lifeguarding taught me responsibility, accountability, and the importance of showing up to work on time.

Most importantly, I learned that age is just a number. As the youngest lifeguard, I had to prove myself from day one to show that I deserved the job and that I could handle the responsibilities that came with that position. As a young professional, this is a challenge that I am faced with on a daily basis. More often than not, I find that I am the youngest person in meetings. What I learned as a lifeguard and continue to remind myself on a daily basis is that age doesn’t matter, it is all about the ideas and experience that you bring to the table.

It’s important for young professionals to realize that their ideas are just as valuable as their colleagues and to never let their age deter them from participating in a conversation. Of course, this still means that you must exercise good judgment in determining when to speak and when to listen. But for those of you that fear that your input may not matter because you are young, remind yourself that you were invited to the table for a reason. Speak up and show that you deserve to stay.

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Today’s guest post was written by Peppercomm junior account executive, Julie Hoang.

For my first job, I thought I had it good. I worked as an after school tutor at a local learning center. As a high school student, I did anything to avoid hard labor so this job was ideal for me. I would rather use my energy to shop at the mall or hang out with my friends. Though I was only a freshman at the time, I took away key lessons that still apply today.

I had actually gotten the job by previously volunteering at the learning center during the summers. After some time and eagerness to earn some shopping money, I asked for a part-time position. What also made me look for that specific job was because I wanted to become a teacher when I was younger. I knew that the knowledge I gained as a tutor would eventually help me if I decided to pursue the teacher career path. From there, I ended up working for an additional year and a half before I quit and moved to Staten Island with my family. The best part of the job though was being able to work with some of my closest friends and eventually making new friends.

Through my time there, I gained many essential skills that helped shape me into the person I am today. Here are some:

  • Build strong relationships: Building relationships are important no matter what age you are. Not all actions need an immediate result. You should always make an effort to build good relationships with your boss, co-workers, clients and anyone else around you because you may never know when that same person will be providing you with business or a reference down the line. For me, building strong relationships with my boss allowed him to see me as a trusted employee. He trusted my judgment when I referred my friends to work there. He even served as a reference for me when I decided to apply for other tutoring jobs in Staten Island.
  • It’s not always about the money: Making money is the obvious answer to why we work, but building your skill set and gaining a valuable experience is just as important. Understandably, many will pick one job over another because it pays more. However, it’s important to be able to walk away from a job with skills that you can use to reach your chosen career path or to help you reach a goal. For me, volunteering was the first step in reaching my goal. I wanted a paying job at the learning center, but had no prior experience. By volunteering there during the summers, I learned all the tasks and duties that were required for the job.
  • Be responsible: Whether it is your first job, third job or dream job, be responsible for your actions and tasks. Everyone is held accountable for their actions. If you are given an assignment, follow through with it and communicate with your manager, supervisor or boss if you need more time. As a tutor, I was responsible for not only my actions, but for the group of students I was looking after. It was my job to ensure their safety and ensure that their homework was done and done correctly. Managers, supervisors or bosses are not able to watch over your shoulder every step of the way so it’s your responsibility to remember your tasks and fulfill them. The parents put their trust in me to teach their children right, just as clients trust us to put their best interest in mind.
  • Know your audience: Knowing your audience is extremely important. The things you can say and the actions you take are dependent on your audience. For example, the way I acted towards my students, my boss and the parents was all different. Children are the most receptive to new information. Therefore, it is crucial to watch what you say around them. This same rule applies to clients. Working in an agency, being able shift accordingly dependent on the type of client you are interacting with is essential. Some clients are more lighthearted than others, so you will need to know when it’s okay to make a joke and when it isn’t.
  • Learn to multi-task: I think that being able to multi-task is a characteristic almost every job will look for in a candidate. At a young age, I learned that multi-tasking was a necessary skill. I attended school, worked after school and managed to finish my homework every day for three to four times a week. Now working at an agency, multi-tasking while remaining organized has helped me tremendously. PR can be somewhat unpredictable and no two days will ever be the same, so it’s imperative to adapt accordingly based on what is the highest priority.
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Today’s guest post was written by Peppercomm senior account executive, Heather Lovett.

jokeMy first job was working for a land surveyor and mapper.  As someone who enjoyed staring at a good map and fantasizing about leaving my small town the second after graduation, this seemed like the perfect place for me.  And, the $5.30/hour wage sure didn’t hurt.

My job interview occurred at a yard sale that I was hosting (did I mention I like to make money?).  The owner’s wife stopped by and I convinced her that a fifteen year old high school girl was exactly what her family business needed.  A few days later I was getting dropped off after school to begin my career as a file clerk.

After two days I am proud to announce that I had that office in tip-top shape.  The maps were filed and I began accepting the new responsibility of janitor.  I also realized how amazing Lime-Away was (and still is!).  I worked 1.5  hours a day after school and full-time in the summer. I became incredibly close with the family and was later promoted to babysitter of their new and adorable granddaughter.  The world was my oyster.

My days consisted of cleaning, babysitting, gossiping with the owner’s wife and watching the clock for the last ten minutes to an hour of the day.  I might have been fifteen, but I was no Taylor Swift.  I had places to be.

All in all, this was a great first job.  I was able to complete my homework each day, catch up on the town’s latest gossip and learn the hard truth about taxes.  Most importantly, I learned that it was okay to be yourself at work (with some censoring here and there).  After all…

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Today’s guest post was written by Peppercomm management supervisor, Lauren Parker.

As a little kid, I dreamed of being an actress in New York City. When I had my chance to belt out a solo in Beauty and the Beast’s classic tune “Be Our Guest” as part of a summer musical theater troupe, I quickly realized that being in the spotlight simply isn’t my thing. I was much happier supporting the chorus and trying not to fall out of my mother’s four-inch heels.

All this is to say that public speaking and sales does not come naturally to me. But funnily enough, my first job was in sales. I wasn’t cold calling time-strapped business executives, but I was peddling the latest flat of perennials at Siebenthaler’s Garden Center.

Although I was just a 16-year-old, I had a number of responsibilities including manning the cash register, watering plants and helping shoppers select the ideal bird feed. The job wasn’t glamorous. I didn’t feel comfortable talking to customers all day, especially when they had complex botanical questions and I didn’t have the answer. I also became frustrated from time to time when my job seemed menial or boring (restock the terra cotta pots AGAIN?!).

I did have a few moments of real pride. The longer I worked there, the more knowledge I absorbed and the better I was at helping customers. I began to feel more comfortable in my role, which helped my confidence and even led to some big sales as a result of my recommendations. Halfway through the summer, my manager even asked me to train the new hire.

A few key lessons I learned from my first job are small but significant:

  • Fake it ‘til you make it – I learned that there will always be aspects of any job that you aren’t comfortable with. But if you step up to the plate and try – with a smile – chances are it will become more natural over time.
  • It’s OK to say “I don’t know” – When you’re young, you think you know everything. When you start to get older, you realize how little you know, but you also realize that it’s OK. Back then, I felt like a failure when I didn’t know a question, even though I had zero experience in studying plants. Today, I am constantly confronted with questions from co-workers, managers and clients and I don’t always know the answer. The best response, I’ve found, is “I don’t know, but I’m going to find out.”
  • Understand the bigger picture – As low man on the totem pole, I felt like an insignificant employee at times. I saw others at the store that had such a wealth of knowledge about plants and others who were skilled at managing a retail store. I, more or less, just did what I was told. It wasn’t until I stepped back and realized that someone’s got to water the plants and change the receipt feed in the register. In my job today, I can take that lesson and not only see how my contributions help Peppercomm and my clients, but how I can help others at the agency recognize their value.

When you are just starting out in your career, you will fumble from time to time. The important thing is to learn from those experiences and improve.

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Feb
05

All the weather

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christmas-weather.jpeg6-1280x960Whether you’re in NYC like me, or anywhere else  in the US, you know the weather has been pretty wacky.  Some areas are being pummeled by snow and sleet and then other areas are ridiculously cold . . . or both.

So what do you do when the weather is getting in the way of a smooth commute to work? We have a few things to consider:

1. This is a given, but make sure to check the highways and public transit before leaving. Is everything on schedule? Are there delays? Check well in advance to make sure everything is clear. Give yourself some extra commuting time.

2.  Keep your managers informed, especially if you think there’s a chance you could be late. Shoot them an email or call before leaving home to let them know you’re on your way, but just wanted to give them the heads up that since the weather is bad you could be a few minutes late. Your managers will appreciate it.

3. Use your judgement. Think that the commute isn’t safe? If you have the option to work remotely, do it. If you don’t, call your manager/boss and talk to them. Work is obviously important, but your personal safety comes first. Articulating that you think it’s unsafe to get into work, is important.

Anything we’re forgetting? What’s do you think is important to consider in a rough commute?

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LennyBoy

Recently, my mother (of all people) directed me to the following Cracked article from David Wong: “6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person”. In her note with the link, my mom advised, “Long and with bad language, but funny and good points made.” Naturally, I was intrigued, and decided to give ‘er a read—and a delightfully inappropriate, engaging read it was!

In addition to a glorious image of Lenny Kravitz prancing around in a titanic scarf, Wong gave me the push I needed to “own” 2014. While this specific piece features many worthy pointers, one argument stood out in particular. To quote Wong*:

… The end of 2014, that’s our deadline. While other people are telling you “Let’s make a New Year’s resolution to lose 15 pounds this year!” I’m going to say let’s pledge to do freaking anything — add any skill, any improvement to your human tool set, and get good enough at it to impress people. Don’t ask me what – good grief, pick something at random if you don’t know. Take a class in karate, or ballroom dancing, or pottery. Learn to bake. Build a birdhouse. Learn massage. Learn a programming language. Film a parody. Adopt a superhero persona and fight crime. Write a comment on PRiscope.

But the key is, I don’t want you to focus on something great that you’re going to make happen to you (“I’m going to find a husband, I’m going to make lots of money…”). I want you to purely focus on giving yourself a skill that would make you ever so slightly more interesting and valuable to other people.

“I don’t have the money to take a cooking class.” Then Google “how to cook.” Dagnabbit, you have to kill those excuses. Or they will kill you.

Of course self-improvement, and this idea of “adding value to society” is nothing new; but Wong found a way to voice the point in an amusing way that forced me to listen. As a semi-recent college grad making my career début in the PR field, Wong made me consider the many ways in which I can add value to the audiences in my life—I can learn a new communication skill or program that will benefit my agency and my clients; I can add a new activity to my repertoire to be more interesting and useful to my friends and family; I can be a more gracious neighbor to well…benefit my neighbors (duh); and the list goes on.

The opportunities are there, and excuses are so 2013. Now it’s up to you to develop the skills that’ll help you stand out—as a student, intern, prospective employee, whatever it may be—and benefit the world around you.

How will you apply Wong’s advice to your life this year? Tell us in the comments below!

* And by “to quote Wong” I really mean to “express Wong’s sentiment in a slightly** less offensive manner that aligns more closely with PRiscope’s values & purposes”

** And by “a slightly” I mean “an extremely”

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Jan
17

My First Job: Lawn Boy

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Today’s guest post was written by Peppercomm senior account executive, Nick Light.

As a 15-year-old, I had a lot on my plate. I was a pretty serious student, 4-sport athlete and aspiring blues musician, so the only jobs I really had time for were in the summer. Well that’s not entirely true – I had a couple jobs (paper boy and musician) before then, but my paper route was completed every day with the help of my mom, and the music gigs weren’t a regular thing.

That’s why I’m declaring that my first real job was “Lawn Boy.”

Let me tell you, being a Lawn Boy isn’t as sexy as all the movies make it out to be. First of all, I owed my job to my town’s switch from well water to “town water.”  This meant that pretty much everybody’s lawns were torn up, pipes laid down and flower beds shredded. One particularly nice lady’s daughter was getting married in the fall at her house overlooking Lake Champlain. This meant that we (my best buddy and I) had the summer to fix and landscape the lawn, plant flowers and shrubberies and grow fresh grass.

Looking back on it, our wealthy matron, Mrs. Ward, definitely could have paid real landscapers to do the job well and quickly, but I think she saw it as an employing the youth type of initiative. My buddy and I would arrive at her house just after sunrise, usually about 8am. She would tell us the goals of the day, and release us into the 90 degree heat and humidity. Our work was really tough. Common tasks included distributing dumptruck–loads of top soil, mulch and gravel all over her property, weeding gardens, removing and replanting shrubs (and sometimes small trees) and raking pretty much anything that could be raked. We carried incredibly heavy loads of things just because we could – 15 year-old boys are pretty durable.

I remember one particularly hard task. For a few days straight it had rained, flooding the basement of the Wards’ house. Then, of course, it got blazingly hot. We had to dig a drainage trench around the house out of the water-saturated ground. I’m pretty sure we went through numerous two-liter bottles of water.

But alas, it was a great job for a 15 year-old kid. I got really strong, which was a great side effect since I was playing football at the time. We worked long hours, but Mrs. Ward fed us lunch every day and paid us well. I was exhausted every night, and slept like a rock. I think, more than anything else though, the job made me value the time when I wasn’t on the clock. I’m not sure that that’s the right takeaway, but I’m glad I had the job.

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Categories : Career Advice
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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