Archive for job training

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


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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PRowl now, PRocrastinate later.

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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.

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Laughing our way through the workday

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Today’s post is from Peppercomm intern, Madeline Skahill.

It started as a typical Tuesday morning. Rush hour, bustling streets, and a bright New York sky paved the way for three Peppercomm interns on their way to attend Workforce Live 2013, an event that gives thoughtful insights into becoming an employer of choice. Grabbing the only open chairs in the back of the conference room, Stephanie, Madeline, and Jessica were able to apply their fast-thinking and texting skills to live-tweet the event as well as learn an important comedic lesson from two of the best.

Steve Cody, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Peppercomm and Clayton Fletcher, full-time comedian and Chief Comedy Officer, took the stage at the event to discuss the importance of comedy in the workplace. According to Steve, “Peppercomm is a place where it’s OK to laugh and OK to have fun”, allowing the atmosphere of Peppercomm to truly embody the four elements of a successful business: trust, authenticity, openness and teamwork. From the company’s website to client meetings, these four elements are evident in daily life at Peppercomm.

Embracing these four elements is the fundamental goal of a stand-up comedy experience within the workplace. Steve and Clayton stressed the fact that stand-up comedy is not a monologue of your favorite knock-knock jokes or Popsicle stick puns. It is the ability to relax, tell a story, and build a relationship with your audience. This relationship with the audience, or in our case, fellow employees, is a true factor in what makes Peppercomm stand apart from other PR agencies. It is an atmosphere filled with encouragement, motivation, and success all because we can sit back, relax, and share a good laugh.

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Skills for Entry Level Hires

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For those of you gearing up for your senior year of college, or recent grads unable to land that dream job or even those a bit younger looking to do everything they can to prepare for the job search, there are a few skills most employers look for that are MUST-HAVES.

Writing. This is a given. From writing emails to your colleagues to drafting more comprehensive strategy documents, writing will be about 90% of your job in this industry. You will need to do this and well.

Research. Whether you are helping with something for new business or for a client, you will likely have to research a good amount of time as well. Make sure you use your skills and know the best places to look. You want to become known as this person: “Well, if XX can’t find it, then there must not be any information on it”.

Great time-management. In this industry, you’ll find that there are many moving parts regardless of if you work in-house or at an agency. Being able to manage your time well helps you to be as successful as possible and really helps the company to succeed, too.  

Social Media. This is a trend that is not going away any time soon. The world has gone social and the platforms are evolving and changing. Always be on the lookout for what’s popular. But it’s not just important to know about it, you must be able to use it successfully and know why that particular platform is doing well.

Internships. So, this isn’t exactly a “skill”, but it is a must have for most employers, and I’d say you’re more likely to find a unicorn playing volleyball with a dodo bird than to find someone who has landed a job in this field without an internship. Start early with your interning and work on your skills. This is the best way to start to gain real-world experience. Also, don’t be afraid of taking internships post-graduation, especially as you continue to look for full-time work. It’s a great way to get your foot in the door and to keep fostering the skills mentioned above.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but some of the top items to keep in mind as you hone in your skills for your careers.

Are there any skills you’d like to see added to this list?  

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Pitching and, really, media relations, is a big part of our job in communications. To some it’s fun and easy, to others it’s the most terrifying aspect of the field.

Whether or not you love or hate the media relations aspect of the industry, you typically need to have it mastered to be able to successfully progress in communications.

So how do you get to mastering this “art”? The same way you get to Carnegie Hall: practice, practice, practice.

Here are a few tips to help you get your pitch perfect before you reach out to anyone:

  • Write out the key points you want to make; you can keep them in front of you when making calls, but writing it down will help you to figure out what you want to say and help identify the most important points you need to discuss.
  • Practice! Ask another account team member or even just mumble it to yourself. If you can’t keep concisely convey the point, you are not ready to call anyone, especially not a busy person in the media. This will also help you to make sure you don’t stumble over any points.
  • Be sure to keep your initial pitch down to 20-30 seconds. If the person you’ve called keeps you on the phone longer and asks, questions, that’s great, but keep it short when first trying to sell the idea.
  • Do your research. Make sure the person you’re calling is the BEST person at that particular outlet, which means you should be reading what they typically cover and all recent articles.
  • Emailing a pitch? Common sense says that you should proofread it, but it also never hurts to have someone else from your team take a quick look to make sure it’s informative, yet to the point.

These are just a few items to keep in mind when pitching. If you get nervous, just remember, you’re pitching via email and/or the phone, no one can see you.

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This guest blog series is by  Ellie Jesse. Stay tuned throughout the summer to hear more from Ellie.


If you’re reading this blog, you probably already know how important internships are.

Great Intern Meme from Ragan's PR Daily:

What you might not realize, is how awesome they are. It has taken me three summers and five rounds of internships to truly appreciate the art of it all. When I began my first internship at Peppercom in the summer of 2010, I had little to no experience and absolutely no idea how lucky I was. Feeling like you are at the bottom of the totem pole is not necessarily a confidence booster.

My point: sometimes interns take for granted what they have. Let’s break it down:

  • First and Foremost, You’re in College. When you’re done with your summer internship, while everyone else is continuing on the daily grind, you get to go back to school with experience under your belt. Need I say more?
  • Internships are like Trial Runs. If by the end of your internship, you realize you don’t like what you are doing, don’t do it again! Being able to check something off your list is priceless. Figuring out what you don’t want to do will lead you to what you do want to do.
  • A Wealth of Knowledge. Interns are certainly hired to increase productivity, but good internship programs hire interns so they can learn. As an intern, you are in a position to ask questions, explore the company, and try something you don’t know anything about. People want you to succeed; they want to help you learn new things.
  • Resume, Portfolio, Website–You Name It. Internships are automatic generators for your personal brand. By the time you finish your college internships, you should be proud to type your name into Google.

When I started my internship journey, I didn’t appreciate what I had. When else are you going to have an excuse to change jobs every summer? Probably not too often. So wave your intern flag high, I certainly do.


Ellie Jesse is a senior studying public relations at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at UNC-Chapel Hill. She is a former Peppercom intern, having completed two internships at the agency. Currently, Ellie is a marketing intern for MBA@UNC, which is a distance MBA offered through UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. Ellie also blogs for and myPRconnection.

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Guest post by Avital Pessar–Yeshiva University, Syms School of Business student and Peppercom job shadow-er

Once upon a time, your secret indulgence may have been idolizing Britney Spears. But if you’re one of the 10,315,100 #KimKardashian Twitter followers, you’ve probably redefined your definition of “guilty pleasure”.

What glamor secrets has Kim revealed that encouraged her popularity?  Her party-it-girl tips? Her fashion opinions? Or her fabulous shoe choices? These all may have contributed to her success, but the truth to Kim’s popularity actually lies in the skillful hands of her PR managers.  PR firms can help individuals and companies by driving up their media exposure while optimizing their ROI .

This past month I had the privilege of spending a full day at Peppercom shadowing several individuals as well as participating in some brainstorm sessions. The day gave me insight into the qualities one might need for such a job. These include good communication skills, a vibrant and friendly personality, being able to think on your feet and a great sense of humor.  Not only was I able to observe these qualities, but also experienced them in conversations with many Peppercom employees.

There is much to be learned from a textbook and the classroom, but having a job-shadow opportunity brings the picture alive in a way the professor can’t. I highly recommend seizing the chance to observe when it comes along.  Thank you @Peppercom for allowing me to job shadow for the day with you!

Have any other of you PR pro hopefuls received the chance to job shadow at a company you were interested in interning or working for? Do you see a benefit to doing one?

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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