Mass Comm Career Panel: Getting that First Job

John's First Job.In another event co-sponsored by the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) and the American Marketing Association (AMA) at St. Cloud State University, the annual Mass Communications Career Panel opened up helpful insights for students as we work towards beginning careers in our respective fields. The panel was led by Andy Ditlevson of SCSU Career Services and consisted of five speakers:

Tracy Carlson, Padilla Speer Beardsley
Bill Hatling,  HatlingFlint Marketing
Dan Schulzetenberg, General Mills
Ryan Meints, G.L. Berg
Lori Jacobson, Carlson Marketing

The first discussion included ways for college grads to get their foot in the door as they work towards finding the job that’s right for them. Among some of the advice dished out, the importance of holding an internship came up from each speaker. Several mentioned having multiple internships as they worked towards getting their first job out of college. One speaker even stressed an internship as being a “critical” stepping stone.

Other tips for getting that first job out of college included volunteering for non-profits, having a mentor and not being too ambitious in your job hunt–though most people don’t really want a sales job, it can be a perfect starting point for a career in marketing. Bill Hatling talked about social media as being a “game changer” and his company is always looking for new hires who understand the trend. The media landscape, as he put it, has changed dramatically in the past decade and it makes sense for students to have a good understanding of new media. This means doing some self-study and finding something about it that interests you. At the very least you should maintain a clean online reputation, but you could take it further by blogging for a non-profit organization or helping a small business with its social media efforts.

On resumes, having good keywords that showcase your skills is important. More importantly though, making sure the resume you submit is catered to the company and the job description. If you feel you can provide the company a fresh perspective in social media strategy, then incorporate that into your resume. However, as Ryan Meints pointed out, having a great resume isn’t everything–he has never even submitted a resume for any of the jobs he has landed. From his perspective, networking is key.

Ryan’s point led to the importance of personal branding. As important as it is to maintain a positive online reputation, having something as basic as a good voice mail greeting is just as important. If you’re applying for jobs, would you want an employer to listen to a greeting that is a simple “Hey, leave a message” in a dull voice or would you rather actually greet your potential employer? My voice mail is simple, yet friendly: “You have reached the voice mail of Eric Wheeler. Please leave a message and your number and I will be sure to get back with you. Thanks!”

Probably the most important piece of advice came from Dan Schulzetenberg: “Understand what your values are.” That simple idea can have a huge impact on your life–whether you’re looking for that breakthrough job or you’re a seasoned pro. Always have strong values and work ethic and life will reward you. What are your values?

Image credit: www.socialsecurity.gov

Weber Shandwick Account Executive: Confidence. Initiative. Follow Through.

Account Executive John Poferl from Weber Shandwick spoke at a recent PRSSA/AMA meeting.
Account Executive John Poferl from Weber Shandwick spoke at a recent PRSSA/AMA meeting.

One of the main reasons I am in Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) is for the chance to visit PR agencies and to attend meetings with guest speakers. Today, PRSSA and American Marketing Association (AMA) at St. Cloud State University was fortunate enough to host Account Executive John Poferl from Weber Shandwick.

After AMA went through its weekly meeting of officer reports, we watched a short video about life at Weber Shandwick and after a quick introduction, John jumped right into questions and answers. Being a young professional (a 2007 SCSU graduate), John was quick to stress the importance of personal branding of both the online and in-the-flesh sense. He found this important because it seems that resumes now are all so good. Keeping up with trends in social media and showcasing that you have a good grasp of how to use online social networks and how to measure and monitor social media is important. However, John did point out that having a reputable social media presence is important, but if you’re not careful, it can bite you. One example he mentioned was someone who made it through a series of interviews and when it came time to take a writing test, the candidate was tweeting during the allowed time.

Most of the questions from students were geared on resume/interview tips and essentially how to land that first job with a public relations agency or marketing firm. John’s story was a testament to showing initiative and the importance of follow through. John was having a hard time finding an internship as an undergraduate and ended up approaching a business group in White Bear Lake, Minn. He essentially made up his own (non-paid) position as a public relations practitioner to help the group promote its services with a small budget. John later participated in Pro-Am Day at Weber Shandwick where he made a great connection and learned a lot by asking questions. He kept in communication during the following months and when an internship opened up near his graduation date, he was contacted. His internship turned into a full-time job and he’s been at Weber Shandwick ever since.

Some of the other main points gained from this guest speaker are to be confident in the job hunt, always have good questions to ask after an interview, content of a resume is more important than design and being a good writer is maybe the most important quality a public relations agency is looking for. I always love listening to someone share their life journey and always find something valuable from listening. What I got out of John Poferl: Be confident. Show initiative. Always follow through.

Social Media Changes Everything

Personal Branding
Build your personal brand with social media.

I came across the video “A Day in the Life of Social Media” last night and it reminded me as to why I started a blog: Social media changes everything. I have one semester left before I earn a Master of Science degree in Mass Communications with a focus on PR and Advertising. This is definitely an exciting reality and I am very much looking forward to once again feeling that sense of accomplishment of earning a degree from an accredited university. It is scary because … wait for it … the job market is tough. Not only is the job market tough, but I still am not quite sure what career I want to pursue. Public relations has always interested me and I hope that I can get into that field, but I am also well aware of the potential new (possibly sub) field of social media.

Social media jobs are definitely out there and if you still don’t believe in the phenomenon or if you think it’s just a fad, think again. Some of the key stats that jumped out at me in this video is that 700 million people join Facebook everyday and over 1 billion pieces of information are shared on Facebook in that same 24 hours. Wow. I have had several of in-class discussions on whether or not Facebook will be around forever. You can easily make an argument for or against the case of Facebook, but the fact is, it is here now and as another video has so eloquently summed up, “social media isn’t a fad, it’s a fundamental way in which we communicate.”

I have not exactly began a job search yet, but what I have done is start to brand myself (hence the blog). Call me a social media geek, but 80 percent of companies now use social media for recruitment. Thus, it is imperative that I maintain up-to-date, clean-cut social media sites to market myself as an aspiring PR professional and social media specialist. I have talked with other PR students who have said they have landed interviews via Twitter and that employers in the PR field won’t even look at a candidate if he/she is not on Twitter. Job candidates are even including their Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn sites under their contact section on resumes.

Social media is a reality and I must follow the trend or be left in the dust.

Photo credit: http://rockablepress.com/