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(Almost) Quarter-Life Lessons

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Forbes has a great piece online today that I urge everyone to take a look at- especially those recent graduates preparing for the first day of a new job and students gearing up for their first steps into the working world.

The truth of the matter is that work will always be a learning process. If you enter with an attitude other than that, then you’re in for a surprise. The trick is to find an environment that encourages you to grow and provides you with the opportunities you need to become successful- without hanging you by the rope it gives you.

Oh, and it doesn’t hurt to pay attention to some of the advice laid out in the article. Here are a few of my favorite tips:

  • “You won’t be fired because your boss is angry.” In the majority of cases, this is absolutely true. We hold two formal review sessions for interns here at Peppercomm and teams are encouraged to give feedback on assignments as often as possible. Ask questions. What can I do to improve? Don’t hang your head- there are checks and balances for a reason and it’s absolutely not personal.
  • “Not making a choice is a choice.” Internships are ideal because they allow you to take a peek into an industry, company, or culture. Obviously, students and graduates are eager for full-time positions, but more often than not, the best way to reach that goal is simply to get your foot in the door.
  • “It’s going to take time to get good at your job.” I’ve only been in PR for about 3.5 years and I’m nowhere near perfect, but I’m much better off than I was at my first PR internship (that was a doozy). Don’t be discouraged. Find a mentor(s) with the skills you’d like to develop and absorb as much as you can- everyone has to start somewhere. Just remember that no task is too big or too small.

So my fellow 20-somethings, what are some other lessons you’ve learned along the way?

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Applying for an entry-level job can be a full-time job in itself. Between the resume tweaks, the endless cover letters and hours of company research, it can be daunting.

In our newest PRiscope series, we’re going to help you navigate some of the trickiest parts of the job-search process, as well as what to do when you land that dream internship or entry-level position. Better yet? We’ll do it in bite-size posts.

Here are five tips in five minutes for your next interview:

  1. Dress appropriately- Technically, this should be a no brainer. Still, you’d be surprised how many candidates fail to err on the side of formality, especially during the summer months. Someone once told me, “Dress for the job you want to have in five years.” It’s never too early to get a head start.
  2. Don’t forget a firm handshake- My father was in sales and he passed this tiny tidbit along to me at an early age. A firm handshake exemplifies confidence- and why shouldn’t you be? You’re their ideal candidate, remember?
  3. Cite key examples- The interview is the perfect time to elaborate on all the points you mention in your resume and cover letter. Did the Twitter account you managed increase in followers? Great! Oh, and did you mention that the interview you arranged for your client led to a Wall Street Journal article? AND 1,000 unique visitors to the website? Perfect!
  4. Know the industry- PR Week. PR News. There are publications you’ll come to know as a PR professional. Mention an article you read in a recent issue and see if the interviewer has a strong opinion on it- which leads us to the next tip.
  5. ASK QUESTIONS- Nothing hammers the nail in the coffin worse than stone silence at the end of an interview. Remember, you’re interviewing the company in a sense as well. Make sure that it’s the fit for you. In case you’re stumped, take a look at this Inc. article that offers some excellent examples.
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If you’re a college senior, chances are that you’ve settled in to quite a panic by now.

Your last semester is starting to wind down and soon you’ll be entering *gulp* the REAL world.

No worries. You’ll be fine. Trust me.

Even if you feel light years behind your fellow graduates, you can get right back in the game thanks to a handy-dandy tool called the smart phone.

Now you can manage your job search on the go with the help of different mobile apps. Use them on your own or at your next PRSSA networking event and you’ll be sure to WOW a few employers and better your chances at getting your foot in the door.

Here are some of our favorites, but there are plenty available!

LinkedIn- Chances are you’ve already created a profile, but now you can set your status update, browse through your LinkedIn connections , search for jobs, integrate your address book, and connect with professionals or friends wherever you go. Better yet? It’s free.

BeamME- A free and universal business card exchange application on the iPhone. It allows you to send your personal or business card from your iPhone to any mobile device or computer, including BlackBerry devices and Macs- you can even track info on everyone you’ve met through (neat, huh?). Heads up- there’s a premium version with a cost attached, but compared to the cost of printing your own cards, it’s worth it.

LunchMeet- This one helps you find other people who want to network in your area using your LinkedIn account and existing contacts, with the help of geotargeting. Did someone say coffee or lunch?

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Today’s post comes courtesy of Peppercom co-founder and managing partner Steve Cody and the most recent RepChatter podcast.

A recent article not only suggested that Millennial women were burning out at a faster rate than their male counterparts but, get this, female PR millennials were topping the ‘fried at 25’ list.

In an attempt to get to the heart (if not soul) of this frightening trend, I recently invited six Peppercom interns to air their views (note: we had an even balance of men and women in the discussion).

So, kick back (if your schedule permits you to do so), turn up the volume and listen to hear if Peppercom’s millennial women agree with the basic premise (note: all three were multi-tasking as they answered my questions, so some answers may be garbled. The guys, on the other hand, were yawning, stretching and fighting hard to keep their eyes open).

Listen to the podcast here.

Categories : entry level PR, PR
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You Get What You Pay For

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Today’s featured post can also be found on RepMan and was written by Peppercom Cofounder and Managing Partner, Steve Cody.

Not too long ago, we received a cover note entitled, ‘Motivated ABC College Grad will intern for free!’

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.

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Intern Video

To find out more about life as a Peppercom intern, check out this YouTube video produced by former Peppercomm interns who share their experiences. Click Here