Friday, April 29, 2011

To Get the Master's or Not?

This week has been dedicated to my full- time job of finding a job. Luckily, I can savor my job- finding time for this week because I have financial means but what if I didn't? What if opportunities didn't work out or what if I can't find one in an appropriate amount of time?

As I am sitting here with my lap full of cover letters and resumes I came across an interesting article, Experience vs. Education for young PR pros by Julie Walsh, a Media Relations Specialist for Walker Sands.

She uses the common communications technique of SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, Opportunities and threats) to show her experience getting her masters and having a job at the same time.

I have heard of many people doing both at the same time. They both compliment each other and can help you learn about each side of the spectrum. However, this poses a major, "weakness of time management," said Walsh. Basically you will have two full- time jobs. This is possible but will you get the most out of both?

Unlike Walsh, I can't necessarily justify a master's degree at the moment. I will pursue a masters eventually but I feel like real work experience will help me figure out what I want and then I can target my aspirations from there.

Recently, I just finished a rigorous full- time internship for international communications company, Fleishman Hillard. It taught me so much being in the real field. I know now that perhaps the real way to figure out what you really want in a career, is to find internships in between undergrad and graduate school. I have seen similar experiences from professionals in my field. Another option is to find different types of jobs in between undergrad and graduate. I have been looking mostly at non- profit and corporate companies and organizations to find out which atmosphere works best.

Through the variety in my internships, I have learned work environment can never be repeated in a classroom, especially in a full- time setting. In my agency experience there isn't much of a way to hold a full- time position while attending school. It is a required 50-70 hour week for a full- time position and a lot of your work is done outside of office hours (especially travel). This is an example of how this experience can only be found working full- time at this office. This is only one example of a demanding job but there are many jobs that it would be possible to do both at the same time.

As I sit here desperately writing and hoping for that one email that will take me out of unemployment, I think about how easy it would be to go back to school and to have a fresh start. Though I would learn a lot, I believe a little experience before a masters is the path for most. To target what you really want, you need to gain a little experience in the field first before you sign your life on the dotted line.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

It's not Brain Surgery- Just 5 things to remember!

Since January of this year, I have learned quite a lot at my internship with Fleishman- Hillard in Kansas City. I had started a long post throughout my internship about the dos and don'ts in public relations but the whole part about our writing is the simplicity and how we write straight to the point adding our own color. I decided as a result, to add just the 5 things to remember for an internship.

1. Love the Research

At my internship at FH, I learned the most through research. If you aren't s
ure about something, research it first. Go to their website, call numbers, ask questions and gather all possible information before ever reporting to your project directors. They will not only be impressed with your knowledge on the company, reporter, product, person...etc, they will trust you with larger information next time. Sometimes the most fu
n in an internship is through the research. You learn so much in general just by some basic research.

2. Know

One of the first steps in public relations, marketing, advertising or probably most communications/business fields is strategic planning. Know what your goals are. Know what your audiences are. Ask those questions to your project managers. Ask for examples others on how they plan their campaigns. Does your group use objectives, strategies and tactics? Do they use more? Do they make a general chart or is it full in detail? When looking for a job this is crucial to know because you never know when you will need to step in and interactively contribute a plan and you will certainly want to over prepare all the information you will need, especially if it is a pitch for a client.

3. Ask for Other Eyes

In an agency world, I found that a lot of time your project managers don't have time to edit. As scary as it is they want something right away for the client so they can manage other things. Because time is so precious, it is imperative that you have as many others check your work as possible. Everything that you put out there is YOUR work. If the client sees a mistake in the work that was given, it is usually because of a mistake that could have been seen earlier. We are all human so we all make mistakes but it is important to have others close to you check with fresh eyes, so you are able to give the most professional product. I learned it was helpful to even have the other intern look at my work. We helped each other, caught mistakes and sometimes it was less painful because we were in the same position and could work things out easier that way.

4. Make it Painless

One of the things most interns don't think about when they are just starting is how to make it in the most final draft possible. Often your supervisor submits emails, having to convert what you said in their words, taking precious time. In a world like FH, I learned to try to make it as "ready send" as possible. If you know how they usually write emails (and if you don't they are usually happy to send you an example), create them in that tone, with the quality and voice that your supervisor/project manager usually uses. This will save time and show your project manager that you are capable of the responsibility of working with clients. This is important to progressing in the future.

5. Use Everyone You Meet as Much as Possible

The best part about working at FH was the diversity of
all the staff. The most important part of an internship is learning right? This is your chance to ask as many questions as possible. Email at their convenience, questions that you might have about their specialty. Meet for coffee or lunch. Ask if you can sit in on their client meetings. Ask if you can contribute to their work if you are interested, or even if you aren't - you never know. I found that I was interested in things that I would have never known, had I not tried.

The second part of number five is to meet as much people as possible in your area. Network. Often college graduates and interns hear this but you never know what you will learn or what opportunities will present themselves if you meet others. I have learned this the most. The more people you know, the better chances you have getting a job and hopefully a job you like.

In my three
months with FH in
Kansas City, I learned a great deal but I felt like these points helped me the most. I think it is important to try more than an agency perspective because different working environments add to everything - your success, your happiness and your work ethic. I am currently looking for a job now but I have found that using these tools and knowing them during an internship is one of the most important parts of all communications jobs.