Archive for November, 2009
Ann Barlow is partner and president of Peppercom San Francisco. She is the founder of GreenPepper, Peppercom’s environmental offering.
Q. How did you get your start in PR?
A. I actually majored in public relations, which at that time meant designing my own major through the University of Illinois’ college of liberal arts. When I graduated, I moved to New York and started with a small agency.
Q. You lead GreenPepper. What has been the most important thing you’ve learned in that endeavor?
A. You have to surround yourself with people who know more about environmental issues than you, and then read as much as you can. This is an area of expertise that you just can’t fake.
Q. What qualities make a young PR professional stand out to you?
A. Initiative, good listening and learning ability, and organization.
Q. What one piece of advice do you have for those just starting their careers in PR?
A. Have an ownership mentality. In other words, always be looking to see what else you can do to make a project and the company successful. Do your work as if it was going directly to the client, so make it as high quality as possible. Let others come to rely on you, and you’ll be successful.
Guest post by Stacey Davidson
When any student enters college the most important question on their mind is usually, “What will I major in?” Pre-med, pre-law, business, engineering, public relations, the list could go on forever. At the time it seems that this one decision and one degree will steer not just four years, but your future. However, I think that the most important part of college is not your major, but what you do in addition to it.
For me, this came in the form of two minors, multiple leadership positions, internships and a semester abroad. When an employer or internship coordinator looks at your resume, the first thing they look at is not your major or even the fact that you have a degree. My reporting professor Mike Foley suggested even placing the education section of your resume near the bottom, underneath related experience and leadership. Through my experience applying for internships and now jobs, I have noticed that employers don’t want to just find the norm (you went to college for four years and graduated), they want someone with unique qualities and experiences that will bring a fresh perspective to the company.
On my resume, the two things that I talk about most in interviews are my study abroad experience and my non-profit management minor. Both of these experiences led me to absorb knowledge from many countries, cultures, social groups and demographics. It allowed me to see things from a host of different perspectives, and that is unique.
At the University of Florida, there are more than 700 student organizations. I suggest that everyone gets involved in at least two. One should be related to the field of work you are interested in (such as PRSSA for me) and one should be focused on a personal passion (such as The March of Dimes GatorWalk). This allowed me to gain leadership experience while having fun and learning at the same time. I brought the knowledge from my public relations major to these organizations and they gave me a chance to learn through hands-on experience outside the classroom.
Hopefully you too will be able to diversify your degree and add depth and character to your resume. Happy job hunting!