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You know that section near the bottom of the skill requirements for a job application — the PLUS section? For example advanced Microsoft Excel skills a plus.
Well I strongly believe you should continue developing PLUS skills within your current job; not just when you need to be unique in an interview. Since one of my three New Year’s resolution words was develop, I am going to focus on opportunities to develop those skills.
One of my PLUS skills is photo editing To really develop this skill I need a new computer and Photoshop/Illustrator. In the meantime, I am also pretty crafty with any free photo editing software out there.
Just yesterday, I was able to do quick edits on a Save the Date graphic with old PowerPoint and new Paint to create an impromptu event flyer for a client. I was ecstatic when my boss liked the turn out.
What kind of PLUS skills do you have that help you stand out from the crowd?
Below are a few that are easy to learn and use to impress:
- Stay on top of Microsoft Office updates. Especially learn how to do mailings and Excel functions. The capabilities will blow your mind and improve efficiency.
- Be a part-time spontaneous photographer. Learn how to take the best shots with you iphone, ipad or mobile device. Especially with event work you never know when that skill will be needed.
- Learn basic coding. We live in a digital world, so why should you be taken off guard by a simple anchor (hyperlink) code. Here is a good resource.
- Don’t be naive about social media. We are the generation who first used Facebook, but that is no excuse to have a knowledge base that starts and ends with uploading selfies. In the very least know your social media guidelines at work and how you can contribute to the strategy.
I am very excited to announce that I just completed my first week as a PR Assistant at 360 Media! I will be working on lifestyle, entertainment and some non-profit clients.
During my first week, I stumbled across a blog post by Ritika Trikha. She pulled advice from herself and other experts about how to make a good impression in your first 90 days. She mentioned your first 90 days being an extension of your interview. You have a chance to truly prove your worth and value.
To me that sounds like an internship. Luckily, an experience I am very familiar with. So I decided to make my 90 days just that — a chance to prove myself. But since I only have three of the 90 completed I thought I would start with a couple of first day tips.
1. Don’t show up empty handed. Make sure you bring all the paperwork you were required to fill out even if you all ready emailed it over. Also bring two forms of identification and a blank check for your tax forms and direct deposit. Finally bring a pen, legal pad and post its. Use the notepad and post its to help you absorb the mass quantities of new information.
3. Meet people. Remember that elevator pitch you had prepared for networking events? Well bring it out to meet co-workers. You will be meeting tons of people. So fight your bad habit of forgetting names and faces. Take an interest in what they have to say. Hopefully, you will be working with these people for a long time.
4. Use down time wisely. The article I mentioned earlier reminded me of this. When you are alone at your desk, be productive. Organize your things, research a potential assignment or think of questions you might have. Don’t check your personal email or social media networks.
5. Set the communication standard. Set a precedent for open communication between your manager and co-workers the first day. Thank them for assisting you, for a great first day and most importantly ask for feedback when appropriate. You don’t want to be blind sided at your 90 day review. The more feedback you receive, the more prepared you will be.
Do you have any additional first day advice?
One last thing, when you get home celebrate a little. Keep up your excitement and your passion!
Leaving an internship or temporary position can be just as much of an art as landing the internship in the first place. You may have been an amazing intern, but you can easily tarnish that reputation based on how you leave.
As I wrap-up my internship with CARE, I created a goodbye to-do list. My to-do list is complete with things I wish I did differently at past internship goodbyes and new tips I want to test out. You never know; maybe this list can help you transition to a new position as well.
1. Have the talk. When you get to the last month of your internship make sure you sit down with your manager and talk about your plans. Are you hoping to get hired on full-time? Can your manager help you with recommendations? Or do you need to tell your manager about a job offer you have received?
2. Check on your final task list with your manager. In order to make sure you complete all your tasks, make sure you are on the same page with your manager.
3. Schedule an evaluation. Ask your manager and/or additional co-workers to give you feedback on your performance as an intern.
4. Pass on responsibilities. If you had ongoing tasks, make sure you sit down with the appropriate people to pass on what you have been working on. i.e. Updating the calendars and task lists.
5. Move documents to the share drive. I know the share drive is very slow, so you probably save documents to your own folders. Well make sure you save all the reports and research you worked on to the share folder.
6. Review your time sheet.
Trust me skipping this step is not worth missing a paycheck. Make sure you have completed all your necessary time sheets before your last day.
7. Make copies of portfolio pieces. Remember you will no longer have access to any documents you saved, so send yourself any necessary copies for your portfolio.
8. Share your contact information. When the mass email goes out announcing your last week, reply to everyone with your contact information. Let them know you would love to keep in touch.
9. Say thank you. Your co-workers and manager worked hard to bring you into the team and teach you. Don’t let their hard work go unnoticed. Give them personalized thank you’s.
10. Celebrate your goodbye. Invite your co-workers to a goodbye lunch. Having some fun is a great way to leave on a positive note.
11. Connect. Make sure you connect with co-workers on LinkedIn. Also, ask for recommendations from people you worked with directly. (Tip: If you did the evaluation part, then you should have no surprises.)
12. Follow-up. Once you have left, check back in to see how everyone is doing. Internships are great ways to expand your professional network. But you need to continue the relationship by following-up. A Happy Holidays email or recognition for the company’s success can go a long way. And you never know; you might end up working there again.
Did I miss anything? Do you have any additional advice?
For the past 22 years of my life I have had short-term attainable goals and long-term dreams. When I was junior in college I had a short-term goal of getting as far away from Roswell as I could. I had long-term dream of working in communications. Well with HOPE scholarship in hand I traveled to Statesboro, GA to earn a degree in liberal arts. During my junior year of college I wanted to be president of PRSSA, I wanted to travel and I wanted my own car. With help and hard work, I landed an amazing job, traveled to cities across the country, became president of PRSSA and bought my first car.
The second semester of my senior year, I wanted to work in public relations more than anything. I spent every night networking or applying for amazing internships in Atlanta. I had a fantastic senior year that ended with an internship at Porter Novelli and the perfect apartment in Buckhead.
After that internship ended, 2012 became the first year I haven’t been able to articulate exactly what I want. Being a driven person, finding my passion became my short-term goal and long-term dream. I don’t think I am quite there yet. But I take comfort in being 22. I take comfort in the fact that I have plenty of years to figure out.
So my New Years resolution is not a short-term tangible goal. It is simple. I want to enjoy the last month I have of being 22. I want to shatter expectations. I want to strive for a career I am passionate and proud of. But most of all I want remember that this, what I wake up doing everyday is my life. And I don’t want to take a single moment of it for granted.
A photo-ode to 2012 . . .
I am less than a week away from completing 2012. This year has been beyond weird because of all the changes. There is no class and no internship to truly prepare you for the moment you realize this is life.
I spent 22 years preparing for this. Most of those 22 years I spent in a classroom. But I was still not prepared for the moment I chained my self to a desk chair for the next 35ish years.
However, it didn’t truly hit me until yesterday. I wasn’t sad I missed summer vacation. I have been interning in the summer, so it didn’t feel any different. I wasn’t sad I only had two days off for Thanksgiving — even that seemed normal.
No, there is only one thing that truly shocked me into the 40+ hour work week — Christmas vacation. I never realized how much that month of a true do-nothing vacation meant to me until now.
I love Christmas! I mean I really get too excited for Christmas, so the day after Christmas I always like to do something fun to get out of the funk. Well let me just say going back to work was not the fun I am used to.
It is official I have graduated, and I will never get a month off for Christmas again. I will have to ask off for New Year’s Eve, and I won’t be able to take multiple vacations to see family and friends.
So for all of those veteran 40+ hour people who are sick of my mutterings, there is one thing I am looking forward to. Tomorrow is pay day!
When did you have your true entry-level shock to reality?
1. Why is the elevator so awkward! I mean this is not Grey’s Anatomy. I haven’t been nor will I date anyone in the office. So why can’t we have a normal conversation instead of wave, don’t wave, hi, don’t say hi, horrible traffic, etc?
2. Why does everyone assume an intern is in college? Probably the most awkward question I get all the time: “When do you graduate?”
3. Why do people use the public restroom as their own personal restroom after lunch? I am all for personal hygiene, but I have never had the urge to re-do my makeup or brush my teeth.
4. Why are holiday parties even more awkward than the elevator? I mean nothing says inappropriate like free wine and higher ups dressed as Santa.
5. When did a PowerPoint presentation become a deck and why?
6. Why do you send someone a note? Because I remember a note being a perfectly folded, coded language, doodle message between best friends and an email being that outlook message thing.
8. While better than college cafeteria food, why is office cafeteria food so over priced?
9. Why is everyone terrified if I sneeze more than once? Yes I have allergies, and no I am probably not going to infect you with the flu.
As an entry-level pr girl, some words can really stick with you. Some of the words I have heard since graduation are so foreign I could swear they were wrong. Some words are so crushing they can replay for hours . . .
- “The position has all ready been filled.” Probably the most heart-wrenching thing to read or hear from a place you applied to.
- “Sorry not interested.” If you have ever had this response from a pitch — yes while better than nothing — you know how rejection feels. I prefer some feedback. “Sorry we are looking for a story with a local angle.”
- “We decided to go with the old communication strategy.” After hours of brainstorming and a drawn out approval process, I can’t help but be sad when our hard work is thrown away.
The important thing is not to dwell on the worst but remember the best. Holding on to confidence is what will move you ahead. So go ahead, learn from the worst but celebrate the best . . .
- “I would like to set up an interview.” Whether a reporter responding to a pitch or a potential employer moving you forward as a candidate, these words are always good to hear!
- “You must be a reporter?” A reporter mistaking your PR identity is amazing! (Welcome to the jurno club.)
- “You have an amazing media mind.” Impressing your manager can really top the charts!
What are some uplifting comments you received in your first year?
A cover letter is an important part of a job applicaiton. There are many blog posts providing advice on how to write a cover letter, but this is not one of those posts. This post is a play-by-play of the cover letter writing process months into a job search.
To whom it may concern:
To whoever I stalked on LinkedIn:
To whoever I stalked on the company site:
To thank God I have a contact at the company:
First sentence let’s see . . .
I am interested in this position.
I am passionate about this position.
I am passionate about this industry.
I am experienced in this, that and the other.
What should go first?
Never mind, second paragraph -
I have done this skill in this situation.
Third paragraph -
I have don this skill in this situation.
Fourth paragraph -
I will be excellent at these things because of this.
Oh crap should those all be bullets?
- I have done this job skill in this situation.
- I have don this job skill in this situation.
- I will be excellent at these things because of this.
Finally, conclusive paragraph -
Do I leave them with a call to action?
- I look forward to hearing from you for a potential interview to further review my skills and qualifications.
Do I take the call to action?
- I look forward to learning more about the opportunity. I will contact you in two weeks to follow-up.
Do I say thank you? or best?
Oh just forget it!
PLEASE HIRE ME; I AM QUALIFIED! ASK MY REFERENCES OR INTERVIEW ME!
Attached is my resume and requested writing samples.