Archive for November, 2011
Many PR pros in the making or even just starting out with entry-level jobs are trying to figure out whether a small, large or mid-size agency is the best fit. Oftentimes people tend to dismiss larger agencies, thinking they will be too big and not the right place to be able to foster a career. That’s when good old fashion research and trying different internships can be a huge help.
Read on as former Peppercom intern, Ellie Jesse, discusses what larger agencies have to offer in part one of a series for The Intern Queen on the subject of finding the right fit. Ellie interviews representatives of Edelman and Ketchum discuss characteristics of their respective agencies.
We’d go all “Goldilocks” on this and say that the mid-size agency is JUST right. But we’re biased. What are your thoughts? Small, Mid-Size or Large?
Sadly, the subject line killed the applicant’s chances from the get go. Here’s why:
- We value our services and would NEVER offer to give away our time (unless it involved a charity or, as is often the case, we’re Beta testing a new service offering). If you want Peppercom’s brain power, you’ll have to pay for it.
- Telling me you’ll work for free immediately makes you a commodity in my mind. If you’re as motivated as your subject line would indicate, you would place a monetary value on your intellect, energy and credentials.
- Finally, the exclamation point you added after the word ‘free’ makes me envision a going-out-of-business sign that reads: ‘Closing immediately. All items MUST go!’ In other words, you sound desperate.
Crafting a cover note to a prospective employer is no easy task. And, I sympathize with this particular graduate’s dilemma. He’s doing everything possible to differentiate himself from the tens of thousands of other applicants applying for the few available jobs.
But, I’m a firm believer in the expression, ‘You get what you pay for’. We’ve experienced this truism in the past whenever we paid a lower rate for a particular individual, vendor or partner. The quality simply wasn’t what a higher-priced competitor would have provided.
One other note on this note. The applicant’s subsequent text reinforced my first impression. He used such phrases as:
- ‘I have exceptional analytical and listening skills, and an eidetic memory, allowing me (to) think quickly, learn quicker and always get it right the first time.’ (Note: is an eidetic memory contagious? It sounds scary).
- ‘My previous successes were only achieved because I see opportunities in all impossibilities.’ (Note: Do you think George W. Bush was his ghost writer?).
So, college grads, DO NOT cheapen what you bring to the plate. Value it. And, don’t work for any organization that won’t pay you. You’re better than that. And, trust me, if you’re as good as you think you are, you WILL find a great, paying gig. My eidetic memory tells me so.
Look, we know college is fun. Still, there is a time and a place to show off your totally sweet flip-cup skills and the annual office party is definitely not one of them. Sure, you might be eager to fit in and socialize with the rest of the agency, but a few drinks too many and you’ll be slurring your words instead of impressing your superiors.
Acting inappropriately at an office function is perhaps one of the easiest- yet most unfortunate- ways to ensure your dismissal from an internship. It can be difficult to draw the line- whether it comes to drinking or general conversation, how do you know when you’ve gone too far? Keep the tips below in mind before attending your upcoming holiday bash and you can continue to count on a reason to celebrate.
- Drink moderately. Granted, the party is a social function, but it is still a professional event first and foremost. If you wouldn’t pass a breathalizer test at the end of the night, a hangover is the least of your problems.
- Network. Now is your chance to speak with those individuals you might not normally work with and meet the larger team, so be sure to make a good impression. Use the party as a way to strengthen existing relationships or make new ones.
- No flirting.You may have your eye on the intern from accounting, but office romances are generally frowned upon. Especially ones that begin in dark corners after too many glasses of pinot grigio.
- Do inquire about office policies on providing car or cab service for employees attending the party. And do appoint a designated driver or do hail a cab yourself if the company is not willing to provide the rides home. Don’t drink and drive.
- Do be sure you know exactly who is invited to the party. Spouses or significant others are not always on the guest list for office parties. And if guests are permitted, don’t bring an inappropriate person as your guest. You are just as responsible for their actions as your own.
- Have fun! It’s no surprise that PR is often listed as one of the most stressful jobs in America, so take this time to blow off some steam and have a good time with your co-workers. We here at Peppercom work hard, but we also play hard.
Any other tips to keep in mind as the holiday season approaches? Any horror stories?
Guest post by Jason Fischbach, Peppercom intern and future PR pro.
As a lowly intern during my first week on the job, I walked into the manager’s office with my tail between my legs. I had to make a good impression; she was the highest ranked person
I’d be working with on one of my accounts. With no idea what I was about to say, I looked up. Over her shoulder was a picture of (arguably) the greatest hockey player of all time, Wayne Gretzky. I may have only been an intern for a week, but I’ve been a hockey fanatic for years. Suddenly, we were on the same level, talking as hockey fans.
You may not always be so lucky to see an idol pictured behind someone in a room, but odds are that somewhere surrounding the conversation, you can find a way to connect to that person. It’s these connections that really drive effective conversations, and they show you to be alert, insightful and (even if only seemingly) well-prepared. The simple ability to pick up details, or to do a little bit of research, can be a key differentiator between you and someone you’re competing with in an interview.
Here are a few hints about ways that you can pick up on these subtleties to help better prepare yourself for your next well-informed conversation:
If you have time, do some research!
- There should NEVER be an interview or similarly-pressured meeting where you haven’t taken the time to fully prepare. If you haven’t met the people before, do a quick search! A LinkedIn profile or Twitter feed can be a great way to learn a few tidbits about people. You’d be surprised at what you might find.
- If you’re at someone’s desk or in their office, odds are they’ve personalized it somehow. See if you have any visibly shared hobbies. If you don’t see something you can immediately connect to, ask some questions about what you do see. At the very least, you’re setting up the other person with a topic they know.
- If you’re meeting in spontaneously, see what you can take away from the situation. Does their outfit give any clues? How about the location itself? Maybe there’s a third party there? How about the weather? As cliché as that last one may be, it represents the age-old truth that you’re never interacting with someone in a total vacuum. Find something you share, and run with it.
Remember things you’ve experienced.
- As simple as this may sound, it can be an invaluable and overlooked skill. If you take something away from a first conversation that you can use to start or bolster a second, you’re at a huge advantage. It’s proof that you’re paying attention, and that you value your conversations as well as the relationships you’re building.
And finally, be yourself!
- It’s no secret that people love to talk about themselves, but not to themselves. You have to be that second person in the conversation. Presenting someone with information about their own lives doesn’t work unless you add something new into the equation. And if you’ve picked up on the right aspects, that should be easy enough to do. It’s important to note that you must be also be genuine: insincerity is often both obvious and detrimental.
As it turns out, that supervisor is a fan of my rival team. But so far, that’s been the only disappointment in our conversations over the past several weeks. It’s not hard to be a great conversationalist. But it can help you start a relationship that lasts a career, or even a lifetime.
Have any other tips or tricks for continuing the conversation?
Looking for some great advice for getting an internship? Have some questions that need answering? Check out this post on Intern Queen with tips from two PR pros interviewed by a former star Peppercom intern (who also stayed on as a freelancer for the agency).
Learn about how to successfully interview, some immediate deal breakers and all-around spectacular advice from these experts. Shameless plug: Kristin and I are the interviewees.
Let us know if you think our tips are on point. Any additional tips you have for future PR pros in landing a key internship or first job?