Archive for Intern Tasks
In today’s post, meet current Peppercomm NYC intern and future communications star, Samantha Rushovich.
1) Tell us about yourself—where did you/do you go to school, where are you from and what brought you to Peppercomm?
I am a rising senior at Boston University studying public relations at the College of Communications. I’m also minoring in Film & Television and have a concentration in Anthropology . . . so I’m very busy!
I’m originally from Stamford, CT just 45 minutes outside the city. I have lived in the same house my whole life and I love it. I have had dogs since I was about three years old. I am practically dying at school without my pups, but I try to see them when I can. Occasionally my parents will be nice enough to drop off my dog in Boston to stay with me for a weekend before I meet them in Maine (we have a vacation house there). So, yes, I have sleepovers with my dog J.
When beginning my search for summer internships I decided I was going to be ambitious and only apply to the top firms. I knew I wanted to spend the summer in NYC, since it’s closer to home than Boston and I was ready for a new city for a bit. I looked up the top 50 PR firms in NYC and then looked through all their websites to see which ones had internship programs. Peppercomm specifically caught my eye because of the emphasis on comedy and work culture. I was learning through my internship in London at the time, that work environment has a huge impact on how enjoyable a job can be. It gave me that extra push to put just a little more effort into my Peppercomm application.
Oh, and Peppercomm is named after a dog, so I can’t lie, that definitely impacted my decision to work here.
2) What area of the industry do you find the most appealing and why?
It’s hard to say which area of PR I like the most. I’ve had experience in-house and I have now interned at a couple of agencies and one nonprofit, so my experience has been pretty broad. I definitely see myself going into nonprofit at some point, but I haven’t yet decided if I would want to be in-house at a major nonprofit, like the ASPCA, or if I would want to handle nonprofit accounts at a firm. I love the agency life!
I’ve always been pretty involved in charity and volunteer work. It’s mainly my love for animals that has driven me to be as active as I have been in the past. It’s one of my strongest passions, so it would be great to combine that with my love for PR.
3) Any surprises or revelations about your role, the industry or Peppercomm?
I never expected to have as much autonomy as I do here at Peppercomm. I’m encouraged to throw ideas out there and to follow them through if my teams agree on it. I never imagined my client teams would value my opinions as much as they do. That experience alone has made this internship one of a kind.
I’ve also finally seen firsthand how CRAZY life as a PR professional is. My to-do lists are more than a page long before I have even had my coffee. I have had busy internships in the past, but I usually had a supervisor who told me what my priorities should be. However, at Peppercomm I’m on accounts and don’t have someone managing my projects for me. It’s all on me and I love the busy-ness of it all. I never thought I would feel so ready to enter the workforce, but now I’m eager to graduate and get going with my career!
4) Where do you see yourself going in the industry?
In the short term, I definitely see myself ending up at a mid-size, full-service agency. After graduation that would be ideal! I also could see myself joining one of the major global PR firms at some point.
WAY down the road I hope to open my own agency that specializes in nonprofits. I would like to cater to them based on their budgets and find ways to provide low cost services that are still highly effective. I have a lot to learn before I can start planning that though.
Working for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) would also be a dream come true. I’ve admired quite a few of their campaigns over the years and am a huge supporter of their cause.
Today’s guest post is by star Peppercomm intern, Mary Insinga.
During my summer internship here at Peppercomm, my entire intern class was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to spend the afternoon at the Council of PR Firms’ annual ‘Internfest’ hosted at NYU. The conference gathered interns from 15 different public relations firms in the area. During the event, we heard from a variety of industry professionals, including keynote speaker CEO of Ogilvy Public Relations; Christopher Graves, Managing Partner at Finn Partners; Gail L. Moaney and four Senior Account Executives from various agencies.
Graves began the conference with a discussion about ‘Reputation Killers’ and outlined how brand reputations are established and highlighted some horror stories about how a reputation can be easily tarnished. Next, Gail L. Moaney’s lecture about specialization in the public relations industry seemed to especially strike a chord throughout the audience. Gail spoke of her focus in the travel and economic development industries, while illustrating the range of specializations that a full service public relations firm often offers. Each speaker opened the floor to questions and after Gail’s discussion in particular, the audience seemed eager to pick her brain.
I began to notice a trend in the questions following Gail’s lecture and during the panel discussion. Questions such as, “how would you suggest we go about exploring other specializations within our firm,” and “have you ever felt pigeonholed in your specialization and have become curious about other sectors?” I realized that these were all questions that have never crossed my mind here at Peppercomm. I even spoke to a couple interns afterwards who also expressed that their internship was a very specialized experience.
On my walk to the subway, I reflected on the past few hours of my afternoon and thought, “did they send us here knowing that this would only further our appreciation of Peppercomm?” Because that was exactly my take away.
As a summer intern at Peppercomm, I work on six different accounts across a wide range of industries and have never once felt pigeonholed or stuck in one sector of the PR industry. I work on a bank, a hedge fund, a skin care line, an art auction, an online credit card marketplace and a leading industrial furniture maker. Each account has quenched my exploratory thirst to survey the industry. Thankfully, I have found myself in a full service communications and Marketing firm that encourages its employees to explore and take risks, always giving us the opportunities to do so.
Each week, Peppercomm offers a PSU (which stands for Peppercomm State University) that every employee is encouraged to attend. The PSU’s expose Peppercommers to the full range of services that are offered to our clients and ensures that Peppercomm employees continue to hone their professional skills. PSU has been a unique part of my internship experience and has been instrumental to my understanding of the Peppercomm culture.
It was actually during a recent PSU that I attended called, “Writing a Creative Brief” that I realized my desire to continue to explore and understand a bit more about the services outside of media relations that we offer.
My educational experience in college was very much a creative one, and after watching and listening to the creative team discuss their role in the firm, I found myself truly intrigued. In turn, I reached out to the Creative Director here at Peppercomm, to learn a bit more about the projects and services they offer our clients. One calendar invite later, and I had a meeting to show him some of my creative work.
Listening to the concerns of those other interns at Internfest who seemed eager to get advice on how to excel and how to break out of their current focus, just made me all the more grateful of the comfort and accessibility I feel here at Peppercomm.
The culture at Peppercomm is what I have found to be the most distinguishing feature of my experience as an intern here this summer. The approachability is unmistakable but it seems like this might not be the case for the rest of my fellow PR interns working in NYC this summer.
In today’s post, meet current Peppercomm NYC intern and future communications star, James Stewart.
1) Tell us about yourself—where did you/do you go to school, where are you from and what brought you to Peppercomm?
Well, for starters, I’m a rising senior majoring in PR and minoring in history at the University of South Carolina. I’m from a small coastal town in Rhode Island called Westerly. It’s essentially the smallest town, in the smallest state in the country, but the beaches are amazing and it’s made me a true lover of being on the waterfront. During the summer, I was the town Dockmaster (note Dockmaster, not Harbormaster; told you my town is tiny) for three years and over the course of my time there, it made me realize how lucky I was to be able to sit in a shack on the waterfront. Instead of a computer screen, I got to stare at this all day:
Life was good. But the dock job also made me realize that I love dealing with people (even when I don’t love the people) and a huge part of PR is just that—dealing with all different types of people. I find it fascinating.
I play the bass guitar and have a shameless, secret love for 70s and 80s music (I had an afro in high school.) I also love cars. And time-machines. And Legos. This can best be signified by my Lego DeLorean I bought last week, complete with Marty McFly’s hoverboard. It’s pure awesomeness. This goes back to my love of history; though perhaps I could also be a toddler stuck in the body of a 21-year-old.
I was born in an ’88 Cadillac Eldorado, so maybe that has something to do with my love for cars. Regardless, I would love to be involved in the auto industry someday.
My dad works for a company that is a client of Peppercomm and it was through his introduction that I had the opportunity to meet the co-CEOs, Ed and Steve. After interviewing them and several other employees last August, I walked away from 470 Park Ave knowing a lot more than I’d come in with, that morning.
I had never set foot in a PR firm before in my life, nor did I really understand the day-to-day activities at a firm. Long-story-short, I didn’t know jack about PR (besides the very general survey classes I had taken at USC) I realized immediately that Peppercomm was a place where I could learn far more than school could ever teach me about the industry. On top of this, I fell in love immediately with the work culture, the people and even the reason the company is called Peppercomm (dogs rule).
2) What area of the industry do you find the most appealing and why?
This is a tough question for me to answer; every day I find myself exposed to a facet of the industry that’s a little different. Most of the accounts I support are financial, though I have gotten a decent exposure to the more consumer-based clients as well. As far as actual work, I love dealing with people (did I mention I like people?). From media outreach to client calls, I find myself enjoying the actual points of contact that I’m able to engage with people in.
With that being said, I have to say my favorite activity is dealing with media relations. My parents were both journalists that worked for The Washington Post, Providence Journal and L.A. Times over the course of their careers, so I find a lot of similarities between the journalists and editors I correspond with and how my parents are. In addition, the media is practically the other side of the coin when it comes to our work, so I love being able to foster those relationships that will benefit both parties for the long-run.
3) Any surprises or revelations about your role, the industry or Peppercomm?
To be honest, everything. Like I said, I had no idea what I was getting into, other than I knew PR involved writing and that I liked to write. My biggest surprise is how much responsibility I’ve been given as an intern. It’s absolutely liberating in the sense that my work and opinions hold just as much weight as the associates and account executives I work with. Yesterday, I got to be involved in a brainstorm and my ideas were put right up on the wall and into the mix.
Also, the only coffee I get is for me. Mind blown.
I once heard a story from a friend who interned at a competing PR firm a few years ago and for her last day of work, her boss had her manually transfer contact info from an old BlackBerry to a new one. All I can say, is that at least she was getting paid. I have never once dealt with anything like this. In fact, the opposite—I often find myself being asked to take on more responsibility, and hit the ground running.
But here’s the flip-side. You can seriously mess something up if you aren’t careful. And that is terrifying yet gratifying at the same time.
4) Where do you see yourself going in the industry?
Once I graduate from school, I want to gain employment at an independent firm. This is the best way to get exposed to all sorts of PR work in a wide variety of industries, and from this knowledge I can learn what I love and hate. I want to eventually make the switch from an independent firm to an in-house department in the automotive industry. Ultimately, I hope to follow in the footsteps of Peppercomm’s founders and establish my own communications firm someday. Until then, being an intern is a good step in that direction.
Today’s guest post is by future communications star and current Peppercomm intern, Samantha Rushovich.
During my sophomore year at Boston University, I found myself in a difficult position–I was a film and television major, but quickly learned that it was not the career track for me. By the end of the term I decided I needed to make a decision, and soon, regarding my major. I decided to try advertising.
I took advertising 101 the next semester and kept film and television as my minor (I wanted to continue with my screenwriting classes). I enjoyed advertising, but I wasn’t motivated. I poked around on some ad agency websites searching for internship opportunities, but wasn’t inspired by any of the positions I found.
I did some research into public relations. As I learned more about the differences between the two professions, my interest quickly escalated. PR was challenging in a way that advertising wasn’t. Stuck in advertising classes for the semester, I decided to pursue public relations outside of the classroom. I was determined to get a PR internship for the upcoming summer, but had no intention of going in blind.
I immediately joined Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA )and attended as many meetings as I could. At a PRSSA convention I attended, the first keynote speaker was Rob Flaherty, CEO of Ketchum. I was sitting there confused and nervous when suddenly Flaherty called out a number. I looked down at a piece of paper I was handed when I walked in. He had called my number. I raised my hand and he came over and handed me brand new iPod speakers. If this wasn’t a sign that I had found the right major, then I don’t know what is?
I applied to be an account executive for Unleashed PR,the student run PR agency at BU, where I started acquiring account experience, and a better understanding of how the industry works.
Next, I started hunting for all summer internships I was qualified for in the Boston area. Several interviews and a couple rejections later, I received an email saying I was accepted to be a special events intern at the Alzheimer’s Association, helping organize their annual charity walk that drew thousands of attendees each year. A PR internship that also included event planning and was at a non-profit I was a huge supporter of? I was absolutely thrilled. On top of that I had secured a fall internship for myself at a PR and lobbying firm.
From non-profit to public affairs, I was well on my way to becoming a PR professional just like that. At the start of the semester my future seemed bleak. I was picturing myself waiting tables in L.A. while trying to sell screenplays. Suddenly, my future seemed bright and thrilling, filled with potential success and excitement.
So, what does all this mean? It means that even if you’re not a senior graduate student with a 4.0, you can still land the internship you want. You just need to take the initiative and do what you have to do in order to get what you want. It’s surprising how far you can get yourself when you’re determined.
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.
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)
- 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.
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.”
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 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:
Summer’s here (or will be as of tomorrow) and so is our internship program’s summer session. This week meet future communications industry star and current Peppercomm intern, Taylor Hatch.
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 am a rising senior at Georgetown University in Washington, DC and I hail from Montclair, NJ. I study Spanish and Marketing and first decided to give PR a shot last summer during an internship at a small public relations consultancy firm in New York City. I loved learning how to pitch and decided I wanted to do another PR internship at an agency, particularly one that would give me even more hands-on experience. It didn’t take me long to stumble across Peppercomm’s website and fall in love with the company culture, variety of clients, and internship description.
What area of the industry do you find the most appealing and why?
So far, I’ve been most interested in the way social media is used as a PR tool. I think social media has enabled brands to express their personalities in ways that aren’t possible without it. it’s so interesting to see how companies that one may not expect to be “social”, like financial service companies, for example, engage customers across all platforms! Another area of PR that I’m interested in exploring is Crisis Management and, luckily for me, it completely intersects with social media. Now, when a crisis occurs, brands can’t put it off for even a day because they can instantly respond by tweeting about it. Social media is both a source of damage control and damage creation for brands and I love this area of PR because, in my opinion, it’s the most dynamic and engaging.
Any surprises or revelations about the industry?
Going from a much smaller PR firm to a mid-size agency like Peppercomm, one thing that surprised me was how many roles one agency can fill! In my first week I’ve noticed how Peppercomm owns so many of its clients’ projects from start to finish. Between research, design, events, media relations, crisis management, measurement, and so much more, it’s obvious that the industry is anything but limiting. I was happily surprised by how a career in PR can allow you to dabble in many different areas of marketing.
Where do you see yourself going in the industry?
While PR seems to be the place for me, I’d like to learn more about how PR agencies intersect with other types of marketing firms, such as advertising agencies. It would be interesting to learn more about these other functions of marketing in order to better understand how to cooperate and coordinate client strategy on every level. For this reason, I definitely see myself working in an integrated marketing agency such as Peppercomm. I’ll have to see where my accounts take me this summer, but I imagine myself working with either consumer product or financial service companies in the future.