Archive for Internship
In today’s post, meet Peppercomm intern and future PR star, Madeline Skahill.
I am a recent graduate from Wake Forest University and I have ventured all the way from Williamsburg, Virginia. Whether you were forced to dress up in 18th century colonial garb by your grandparents or peer-pressured by fellow classmates to endlessly ride all the rollercoasters at Busch Gardens, I am sure there are a few hidden gems that have been so lucky to have experienced my hometown. With that said, I could not be more excited to be in New York City.
Last summer, I worked as a PR intern for the National Park Foundation and was fortunate to get hands-on experience in promoting the parks nationwide. I wanted to continue my passion of PR, however, continue this passion with an agency. Within the first few minutes of looking at Peppercomm’s website, I knew it was the place for me. From the evident vibrant culture to the dynamic list of clients, Peppercomm has proven to be the perfect fit.
2) What area of the industry do you find the most appealing and why?
The area of the industry I find the most interesting is the distinct role the media plays within the agency. All forms of media, from print to digital, play a tremendous part in the future of a brand or corporation. I love experiencing the constant contact between a PR agency and media outlets as well as the ability to watch a particular client’s progress in the media spotlight.
3) Any surprises or revelations about the industry?
The importance of Crisis Communication within a PR agency has proven to be one of my biggest surprises thus far. Within a matter of seconds, an entire group of individuals are forced to put on their thinking caps and act fast with the future of a company lying in their hands. Before, I always thought this was the role of corporations, however, with the emphasis of Crisis Communication at Peppercomm, I truly understand the importance an agency plays in handling anything that may come their way.
4) Where do you see yourself going in the industry?
I would love to continue the path of working at an agency and balancing multiple clients rather than working for a particular corporation. I would also love to be able to work for a client from the ground up. The beginning stages of a company are filled with bright new ideas and have the ability to alter the way the general public views the world. It would be a tremendous accomplishment to be with a client at the starting line and be able to see their progress and achievements firsthand.
Today’s post is by Business Outcomes intern, Alex Garay.
This fall marks the second time in my career that I have tasked myself with the difficult, but rewarding act of balancing an internship with school. To some, it may seem crazy to give away time during the already-busy school week (especially on Fridays), but I really think it’s worth it. However, there are some advantages and disadvantages of taking on this type of schedule that you should know about before you decide that it is right for you.
An obvious benefit of undertaking this balancing act is that your time management skills will improve significantly. With a part-time internship during school, you may not have the morning before class to finish an assignment, you may not be able to meet with your group on Friday, and you may not have the whole weekend to study for an exam. There is certainly time lost, but you can make it up – it just means that you have to stay on top of your free time. Your internship will likely have set hours, but your schoolwork does not, which means that utilizing spare time is very important. Get started on an assignment the day it is given. Study for your exams over the course of a week rather than the night before. Prepare your end of group work early so that if you can’t meet as long as you’d like, you will still be able to pull your weight in the team.
As a junior or senior with a full-time internship in the fall, other difficulties arise – the summer internship you undertake after junior year is likely the most important, and of course during senior year it’s important to consider full-time employment. That means that while you’re juggling an internship and classes, you may have to worry about internship fairs, information sessions, and other job-related events that take place during the academic semester. It is difficult to balance so many commitments at once, but it can also be very impressive to potential employers, and should be highlighted when applying for jobs. This relates back to time management, which will be of even more importance in this scenario.
Another benefit of working while taking classes is that you may notice parallels between your work and your studies that help you in one, or both. The first time I took on an internship along with a full credit load, I worked at a record label, and had a class on market research that was helpful to my work in forecasting album sales. This time around, one of my classes on the responsibility of companies and corporations to the public fits in well with the analysis of clients’ PR efforts that I undertake at Peppercomm’s Business Outcomes team. These are just two examples from my own experience – you might find an even stronger correlation between work and school.
Taking on an internship during an academic semester is certainly difficult, but don’t be too quick to write it off. Managing your time well is a skill that you will have to learn at one point or another in the professional world, and it doesn’t hurt to master it while you’re still in school. Plus, you’ll gain valuable work experience that can be combined with previous jobs and summer internships to improve your all-around candidacy for positions that interest you. Of course, some extra spending money as a college student goes a long way, too!
Today’s post is by Peppercomm Business Outcomes intern, Alex Garay.
Ever since I can remember, I was never really a fan of any activity that had one specific, strict way in which it should be done. As a child when learning to play the piano, I abhorred the concept of “piano fingering”, where certain notes had to be played with certain fingers. If I could find a way to play the exact same notes in an easier way, why not do it? If my method works and produces an equal or better result, it couldn’t be a bad thing, could it? Why do I have to do it the “right” way if my way works better for me? Some may disagree, but I’ve always enjoyed activities, tasks, classes, and jobs more when I have the freedom to find a better way. A task becomes more rewarding, exciting, and funner for me when there is more than one way to do it; in school I enjoy classes that involve a creative element (such as strategy, marketing, and some finance) more than classes that teach a subject that has always been done way and is designed to always be done that way. Classes that allow for some creativity often provide example-based experience where you can test your ability to think in new ways, which I think is a more valuable learning experience than simply learning a process. Of course, it’s incredibly important to explore all types of classes so that you know where you stand and can understand what type of work you feel more comfortable with. Remember, however, that there is not always a clear line between by-the-book and creative.
I personally don’t always like doing something the “right way”, but don’t get me wrong – established processes are obviously very important, and they are a testament to the creativity and insight of their developers. Someone, or several people, worked hard to facilitate the future by creating methods that can be followed. But I think that an established process should be a baseline, a benchmark that can then be improved upon and developed further to facilitate progress and ensure that it is still relevant. This could apply to anything, from something as simple as data entry to something as complex as federal tax code. I am a strong believer in the idea that “there is always a better way”, and I also believe that it can be applied to almost anything.
How does this relate to job searches, internships, and PR? Well, I’ve had jobs and internships where I have to do the same thing, the same way, every day, and then I’ve had and internships where I have the freedom to do something a different way if I can show that it’s easier, more efficient, or in some way better than the current way. It’s not difficult for me to decide which of these I enjoy more and get more fulfillment from. Public relations, marketing, communications, strategy – they’re all great industries to examine and carefully consider for someone who seeks that sort of experience. There are others, to be sure – in fact, almost any industry will have a creative aspect. But if that freedom and room for creativity is what you’re looking for, chances are you’ll find it if you involve yourself in one or more of these industries, because they revolve around new ideas – there’s not always a “right way.”
That’s right. We’re looking to hire some interns to start immediately. We need two PR interns and one for our Business Intelligence team. For more details on the program and positions, visit here.
They’re all full-time and paid . . . and you get to work with us!
Today’s post is by Peppercomm intern, Mandy Roth.
Senioritis symptoms escalate uncontrollably as the familiar aromas of chlorine and sunscreen ally to invade the residence halls. You procrastinate from studying for finals by determining the exact fashion in which you will dispose of the plethora of lecture notes that has accumulated throughout the semester; whether burning, shredding, or ripping will elicit the most satisfaction. It’s finally May, and in a few days, the freedom of summer will be upon you; all will be right with the world. Suddenly you’re confronted with a petrifying epiphany: your textbook sell back failed to cover your Dave Matthews summer tour ticket and your lifeguard certifications expired months ago. The taste of freedom that has inhabited your mouth since spring break is instantly tainted with the bitter zest of reality. It’s not long before you regret the hours you spent perfecting your beer pong form and re-tweeting @UnluckyBrian when you should’ve been applying for jobs.
“Taking the summer off won’t be so bad,” you console yourself. “I’ll get a ‘real’ job in the fall anyways.” Great pep-talk, except that everyone with previous interning experience is suddenly ahead of you in the job market. “It’s ok,” you reason, “I’ve still got a few days before summer vacation. That leaves plenty of time to land an internship before June!” Your confidence is wonderful, but you’ve failed to consider where you’ll be applying and what you’re qualified for, let alone the millions of other students who made the same classic error you did.
I was fortunate enough to have been advised by my former boss, “Start your job search in the fall.” I’ll admit it seemed a bit premature at the time, especially considering that entry-level positions are often looking to be filled ASAP. In any case, I soon realized the brilliance in my boss’s advice: I now had the opportunity to familiarize myself with companies and programs to figure out exactly what I wanted and what I had to do to get there. An early start turned out to be especially crucial when I realized that many of the agencies I was interested in happened to be in New York City. Since my graduation date was still but a figment of the future, I was able to visit NYC to determine whether I could in fact call home to the city that never sleeps.
While it might be classy to arrive fashionably late to a party, it’s nothing short of dowdy to apply to a job past the deadline. Even if a company notes that they are looking for an immediate hire, it’ll never hurt to put your name in the hat. Doing so might open up a door for the future; perhaps the company can’t hire you now, but will keep your resume on file for future opportunities. Internships are in high demand, especially in this economy, and the number of intern applicants grows exponentially in the months leading up to summer. Instead of applying at rush hour, give yourself the chance to stand out by applying before the traffic gets too heavy.
Bottom line: a job isn’t going to come after you. It all comes down to being proactive, making connections, taking the time to do your research, and ultimately giving yourself the best chance possible. If you take some time throughout the year to break-away from Facebook stalking your Economics TA and research potential job opportunities instead, suddenly your last months of college might bear a rhythm of relaxation rather than a period of panic.
In today’s post, meet Peppercomm SF intern and future PR star, David Jolly.
Life for me began in Cleveland until I was a teenager and my family relocated to Columbus, Ohio. After graduating from high school in Columbus, I went to an out-of-state college in Hampton, VA majoring in finance and marketing. After two years there, I realized that it wasn’t the best fit for me, so I transferred to Ohio Dominican University (ODU) in Columbus. I graduated from ODU with a BA in Public Relations and Marketing Communications in December 2012.
Throughout my time at ODU, I had several PR internships and was heavily involved in student organizations, and even served as the PRSSA president for my chapter. Upon graduation, I took on my first full-time internship at a PR agency before coming to Peppercomm’s San Francisco office. Making the decision to move across the country to San Francisco was a big deal. Not only had I never visited San Francisco, I did not know a single person in the city. Yet, it sounded like a great adventure and after speaking with the teams here, I knew I had to find a way to make it happen. The next thing I knew I was living in San Francisco and starting my first day as the intern in the Peppercomm SF office.
I’ve always told myself that agency would be the best fit for me. A past internship proved me correct and I knew I had to continue my career at Peppercomm. My passion for media relations was a major reason in wanting to work at Peppercomm and I felt the agency would be a great place to hone my skills.
2. What area of the industry do you find the most appealing and why?
A majority of my past experiences is in media relations, so I find that area of the industry to be the most appealing. I think I fell in love with this area of the industry during my first internship. I saw an opportunity for a media placement and I sent an email pitch to the appropriate editor at the publication. The editor liked the story and I had my first placement in a national publication. It felt great to be able to see my idea go from a pitch to being an article in a widely-read outlet, and also build that relationship with the editor. Since then, I’m constantly looking for opportunities and projects that allow me to improve my media skills.
3. Any surprises or revelations about the industry?
After taking a few entry-level classes as an undergrad and really taking the time to research the industry, I had a better understanding of what to expect. One of the biggest surprises for me was learning that public relations can be found in almost every single industry. This is definitely a good thing for emerging PR professionals like me, because regardless of what your interest might be, there is most likely a PR job in that specific industry.
4. Where do you see yourself going in the industry?
I would really like to continue to learn new skills and best practices in the industry. I see myself becoming more of an expert in media relations and social media. I also see myself staying in an agency setting because of the fast-paced environment and the variety of clients I get to work with on a daily basis. My goal is to ultimately become a senior partner at an agency and mentor future PR professionals.
If you’ve been keeping up with this blog and some of our posts on interning and the Peppercomm internship program, you know that it is one that provides a great set of skills and experiences. I went through this program and can certainly attest to how it prepared me for the industry.
One of our current (though, soon to be going back to school) interns, Nick Gilyard, has shared some of his internship experiences this summer in this CNBC story on college courses that help grads land a job. You’ll find some great insights. Let us know if you agree.
In today’s post, meet Peppercomm intern and future PR star, Chris Piedmont.
1. Tell us about yourself—where did you/do you go to school, where are you from and what brought you to Peppercomm and public relations?
I’m currently a senior at the College of Charleston located in historic downtown Charleston, SC where I’m serving as the Student Body Vice President this year. I grew up just outside of Charleston in a small suburb. After spending my first year of college at another university in the upstate of SC, Charleston called me home. When I originally went off to school, I was dead set on going into education but, after my introductory class had us tutoring local high school children, I felt like something was off. I decided I wanted to pursue a degree in something I could do more with than teach and, if the call to educate came later in life, I could always take classes to get my teaching certification.
After making this decision, I started taking career surveys to figure out what I should consider. One of the surveys suggested that I’d be good at teaching (shocker), psychiatry and public relations. Prior to this, I never understood what public relations field really was but decided to try it out and I’ve never looked back.
My interest in public relations was what sparked my transfer back home to the College of Charleston due to our thriving strategic communication program, our Advisory Council and the internship opportunities available in the Charleston area that were not as easy to find in the upstate. A month after I started at CofC, I had the pleasure of hearing Steve Cody speak at one of our Advisory Council Student Forums about developing your own personal brand. I was so blown away by his ability to connect with everyone in the room, make us all laugh, and learn at the same time. Later in the year, I was able to participate in a networking trip to NYC and one of our stops was Peppercomm. While visiting, we learned about Peppercomm, the internship program and the great work and culture that exists here. After seeing all this, I knew that this was the place for me and I still get excited every day to come in to work because I’ve wanted this for so long.
2. What area of the industry do you find the most appealing and why?
Right now, I find public affairs the most appealing part of the industry because it’s the unknown for me. I haven’t had the opportunity to do much work in this area and would love to take a stab at it. With that said, I really enjoy the consumer and financial services sectors that I’ve been introduced to recently.
3. Any surprises or revelations about the industry?
One surprise for me would be the extent to which public relations professionals love their jobs and have fun while at work. In talking with friends at other internships in different sectors, they are getting coffee, filing papers, and not really enjoying life. For my friends in PR internships and myself, that couldn’t be further from the case. We’re getting hands-on experience and learning from professionals who light up when they come to work.
4. Where do you see yourself going in the industry?
Who knows? If I’ve learned anything from networking and speaking to my colleagues here at Peppercomm and elsewhere in the public relations industry, it’s that you never know where you’ll end up because opportunities simply have a way of presenting themselves. While I’d like to say that my crystal ball is in full working condition and that I know exactly where I’ll be in one, five, or 10 years, I can’t. I simply plan on working my hardest and taking any and every opportunity that presents itself because there’s always something more to be learned.
Today’s guest post is by Peppercomm interns Nick Gilyard and Taylor Hatch and originally ran on RepMan on August 1.
Tuesday night marked the third annual Intern Queen Party, hosted by the “Intern Queen” herself, Lauren Berger, a well-known career and internships expert. The event was both a celebration and a chance to network with a panel of top intern coordinators and executives from companies such as Mashable, Cosmopolitan, and US Weekly.
At least, that’s how the event was advertised.
We were very excited to be Peppercomm’s intern representatives at this much anticipated event. But, most unfortunately, it was a disappointing evening. The event was billed as a fun and exciting venue for interns to network and obtain career advice from professionals. But in reality it was a party to promote the Intern Queen’s personal brand..
The problems began in the line outside the Ann Taylor Flagship Store, where the Intern Queen Party was held. Since the first 100 guests inside were promised a gift bag, we arrived an hour before doors were scheduled to open and were surprised to see a line of 50 interns had already formed.
It seemed we were waiting to enter a club rather than an event with professionals. Many of our fellow interns—almost entirely female—were dressed in tight clothing with short skirts and sky-high heels. After about 45 minutes, a bouncer came through the line, rejecting numerous fake ID (yes, hopeful interns actually tried to use fake IDs at an event filled with potential employers) and handing out pink wristbands to all legal guests for the open bar.
We were greeted by music blaring from the DJ on the second floor, and Bartenders in tight, pink shirts that read, “Keep Calm and Intern On” handing out drink after drink to those swarming the bars. Of course, we have both attended professional events where drinks were served, but we had never seen this happen at an intern-centered event (perhaps because most potential employers and mentors prefer that interns not be buzzed when asking for advice). It reminded us of a college party, with people rushing to the bar for as many drinks as possible before it closed.
At Peppercomm, we see a lot of brands run into trouble when the service they think they are providing doesn’t at all match up to the experience the customer is having. This is why it’s so important to listen to your consumers and to experience your brand or service through their eyes. So here are some things that The Intern Queen brand might want to take into consideration:
• RSVP has a purpose. It is unacceptable to insist that attendees RSVP, print out tickets and wait in line for over an hour only to get inside and realize people who are clearly neither interns nor invited professionals are wandering in off the street. This makes the customer who took the time to preregister feel fooled and undervalued.
• First 100 should mean FIRST 100. Promising the first 100 people into the event a gift is a great way to ensure that people show up early. But having people show up early only to open a second line for what could only be perceived as VIPs minutes before the door opened is dishonest, which is never a good thing.
• Space matters. If the point of the event is to network and listen to a panel but there are entirely too many people to do either, you’ve failed your guests. We could not make it up to the third floor when it was time for the panel discussion due to the sheer number of people attempting to crowd the stairs. Even attendees who did manage to make it to the panel complained that they were so far away they could not even hear the experts’ advice.
• Be inclusive. If your invitation is open to everyone (males and females) but the event caters only to women (with teal, over-sized totes as gift bags and professional makeup artists doing touchups for free) then you are being misleading and exclusionary, two words that can be extremely damaging to any brand.
The criticisms we’ve made thus far about The Intern Queen Party would be nothing but minor complaints or annoyances if it weren’t for the element that has plagued many a brand: deception. As interns we developed certain expectations after reading about Ms. Berger and the promotions for her event.
Perhaps our expectations were a bit naïve, but we expected an event for interns and hosted by such a well-respected career expert known as the “Intern Queen” to serve interns in a meaningful, career-minded way. Instead, we were handed copies of Ms. Berger’s book and offered the opportunity to pose with her in pictures, making us feel used rather than valued.
Based on our experiences and observations at Peppercomm, we even commented that the Intern Queen Party had all the elements for a great example of public relations. Obviously, it is both acceptable and smart to build word-of-mouth around your brand. Some strategies include generating an eye-catching line outside the door, offering giveaways of your product, and encouraging photo-ops.
However, when you succeed at generating attention for your brand while failing to provide value for your customers, that is nothing but bad PR. While we appreciated the opportunity to attend the Intern Queen Party, frankly, we left feeling more like jesters than royalty.
Today’s post is by Peppercomm intern and future industry star, Taylor Hatch.
One of my favorite tasks as an intern at Peppercomm is tweeting for clients. In fact, the other day I tweeted an article about entrepreneurship entitled, “3 Reasons Why ‘No’ Should Be an Entrepreneur’s Favorite Word,” which you can find here. It’s not the first article I’ve read warning against the dangers of taking on too much—and it shouldn’t fall on deaf ears. In my brief exposure to the PR industry, I’ve seen ambitious and hardworking professionals who wouldn’t survive the day if they took on each and every task that crossed their desks.
However, in my experience, “no” has little value—if any—for a PR intern. Here’s why:
1) What’s considered a time-consuming task to a more established PR professional is an opportunity for an intern. This is the time to develop new skills, like media relations, while perfecting others, even if that means becoming a pro at using the copy machine.
That’s not to say you should be satisfied with an internship that involves nothing but coffee runs and laminating. However, more menial jobs are not necessarily worthless. Something should only be considered a mundane task if you’re so comfortable with it you could do it in your sleep:
2) Interns work hard—especially here at Peppercomm—but let’s be honest, an intern’s workload is not as intense as, shall we say, real life. Many of us are living on our own—no kids or pets for which we’re responsible. In fact, this may be the most flexible time in our professional lives, so take advantage of it! Once you take that perspective, it’s really no sweat if your supervisor tells you:
3) Interns are the newest members of the agency family! Not only should we all be willing to help our more senior colleagues (after all, they all likely paid their intern dues at one point) but interns should also be eager to contribute.
One way to tell if you’re a successful intern is if you feel needed by your coworkers. When your contributions make other employees’ lives easier, you’re probably valued by the agency—and that’s a good feeling!
4) In my first internship, I was terrified to volunteer for anything that I didn’t already know how to do. “A media list? What? I’ve never… no! “ would go through my head. Luckily, I was the only intern at the firm for a few weeks, so “no” wasn’t an option. It only took a couple of tries to realize I could handle media lists, experience that has been essential at Peppercomm.
Let’s use the “diving in” metaphor. Tasks are like diving boards, the harder (or higher) they seem, the more you fear you might drown. But it’s the challenging, seemingly “out-of-your-league” tasks that will have the greatest impact on your professional development. So even though you’ll feel like this at first:
Eventually you realize:
5) Finally, being the one who’s never available to help is simply not a good reputation to have—especially for interns! We’re new, both to the company and to the PR world, so we’re expected to be a little more eager and flexible. In my opinion, the worst mistake you can make as an intern is shying away from challenges and new opportunities. Don’t be that guy: