By Tom Hanaway (@tomhanaway)
Networking, interning and shoes. These are three important topics that my fellow interns and I talked about with members of Red Shoes PR during our tour of their public relations agency last week. They gave us invaluable advice from how to get an internship to how to score that dream job. Their suggestions are not only helpful for PR students, but any student hoping to get a job after school (AKA all of us).
1. Your major is actually quite minor.
What the employers of Red Shoes PR stressed was the importance of experience. Karen Buckoski, the senior account executive at Red Shoes PR, said the major people chose in college is actually quite insignificant. What she and other employers look for is real hands-on practice in the field they are going into. Buckoski said she would hire someone with a mathematics degree, if they had interned at enough PR agencies and were familiar with the world of public relations. She also said that sometimes having a degree outside of journalism/PR, along with that desired PR experience, can be useful, citing how an employee with a mathematics degree would do a fantastic job great being the account coordinator for a bank or other financial business.
2. Intern, intern, intern.
The skills and knowledge gained through internships are now vital. While students learn a lot in the classroom, there are aspects of certain careers that can only be learned through interning. Working at a company you like or in a field you plan on entering will not only give you something to put on your resume, but also let you test the waters and see if a certain career field is right for you. Since getting that experience is important, when and where should students intern?
Buckoski said she had an internships throughout her college career after she was a sophomore. She stressed that students should not be afraid about applying for internships if they are only a freshman or sophomore. Employers already know that they will have to teach interns how to perform their tasks and responsibilities, so don’t think you are under-qualified. Even if you don’t get the internship, it will let businesses know that you are driven and eager to work. Think of reaching out for an internship as forming a relationship with the company. Buckoski said that sometimes she contacts previous applicants when an internship becomes available, giving them an advantage over other students.
Source: Red Shoes PR
3. Dress to Impress.
Employers like Buckoski not only care about your resume, but also your appearance. Buckoski implores students to dress their bests for interviews. She said it shows employers you care about the position and have the ability to appear professional. Dressing up in a suit is a must for working at places like Red Shoes PR. Buckoski often takes her interns along to meetings with clients and wants interns who are able to blend in. Basically, leave your UW Oshkosh sweatpants at home, and iron your best dress clothes.
4. Network early, network often.
The pros at Red Shoes PR said that networking is one of the most important tactics people must do in order to find that perfect job. From meeting other journalism students in classes and clubs, to taking that extra step in meeting fellow interns and employees during internships, every person you meet is one step closer to finding a job. Buckoski said that just meeting and exchanging business cards isn’t enough. Make sure to use social media to keep in contact with new acquaintances to continue to build a relationship, whether it is Facebook or LinkedIn. Also use Twitter to grab the attention of your dream company or of someone you haven’t met yet. Buckoski said she notices if someone tweets or retweets her on a regular basis, which can eventually lead to an online relationship, and perhaps even a job interview.
5. No job after college? No problem.
We discussed the idea of when and how to find a job after college. One thing we learned was that not everyone gets a job right after college and taking an internship after graduation may be a wise decision. Taking an internship has the potential of evolving into a full-time position at the company you are working at. Take Journalism alum Sara Jeffers for example. After college, Jeffers decided to intern at Red Shoes PR for the summer. After her internship, she impressed her bosses at Red Shoes so much that they hired her to be an account coordinator.
These are some of the tips that I learned from my visit at Red Shoes PR, but there is one more tip I will leave you with. Don’t be shy to tour an agency or have an informational interview with a business, just like we did. We learned tons about the marketing and public relations field, and were given free donuts and coffee for coming. You will also leave with a few new contacts, and a wealth of knowledge.