Where has all the formality gone?

March 25, 2010 at 1:38 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Posted by: Rebecca

I’m about to bring up one of those topics that may be considered as “controversial” as the one-page v. two-page resume debate.  It’s a two-word topic with the power to make any job seeker cringe with dread and feel like curling up in the fetal position (maybe I’m exaggerating.)

The topic?  Cover letters.

AKHIA EVP Ben Brugler, who probably sees dozens of cover letters each month, brought up a great question about this topic on the AKHIA Facebook Page.

AKHIA Facebook Page

Ben’s question made me wonder… Where has all the formality gone? How do you draw the line between impersonal and unprofessional?

Shantae and I discussed formality in cover letters, and we seem to have different views on this topic.  We both believe a cover letter should be well-written, compelling and concise; however, our feelings on a traditional cover letter v. an e-mail job solicitation differ.

Shantae goes the more “traditional” route; she believes you should always address a person as Mr., Ms. or Mrs., even in job-related e-mail conversations.  Although I would always address a supervisor or hiring manager formally in a traditional cover letter, I may address the individual by his or her first name once we’ve exchanged several e-mails.

Although I see Shantae’s point, I can’t help but wonder.  Gen-Y supervisors often coordinate internship programs, and a 20-something-year-old professional may prefer to be addressed by his or her first name.  At the same time, a Baby Boomer who is in charge of hiring may lose respect for a potential employee if addressed by his or her first name.

Entry-level job applicants are always encouraged to push their limits, be creative and step outside the box to stand out.  So here’s my question: Where do you draw the line? Is there a way to be formal without being impersonal?

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Columbus #HAPPO employers: Hire this classy pro!

February 19, 2010 at 6:49 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Posted by Shantae

Graduating from college is a scary thought, but this blog has served as a creative outlet for Rebecca and me to vent about the frustrations of searching for employment, share our thoughts and concerns about relocating and engage in two-way conversations with fellow students and professionals.

When Rebecca and I discovered #HAPPO, we knew it presented the ideal opportunity to showcase our individual experience.  Anyone can give a list of his or her professional attributes, but we decided the best way to highlight why we’re the perfect candidates for the job, was to shine the spotlight on each other.

Here’s a few reasons why I think potential employers in Columbus, Ohio, would benefit from getting to know Rebecca Odell:

  • Rebecca is full of ambition.

Rebecca knows what she wants and goes after it.  During her time at Kent State, she interned with Flash Communications, completed a year-long internship at Akron Children’s Hospital and is currently gaining experience as a social media/public relations intern at Akhia Public Relations & Marketing Communications.

She has successfully researched and planned two public relations campaigns for real-world clients and given an exceptional client presentation.  Her ever-expanding skill set includes internal communications, media relations, SEO, content management systems and publication design.  She’s never satisfied with what she knows and looks for new opportunities to learn and grow as a professional.

  • She is a rising social media pro.

Rebecca does not just participate in social media, she’s learned how to use it as networking tool to develop her evolving professional persona.  She currently manages various Twitter accounts on a daily basis:  #YouToo2010 for the third annual YouToo Social Media Conference; #Akhia_Intern, which documents her internship experience; and accounts for agency clients.

Although she tweets, blogs and uses Facebook and Twitter like other soon-to be-grads, what sets her apart is her ability to use these platforms strategically.

  • Rebecca is an eternal optimist, a must in this economy.

The quality I envy most!

Rebecca is little miss sunshine, no matter the circumstances.  She always expresses a positive attitude toward her work, which is a priceless quality in any employee.  I’ve never heard her say “I can’t.”  Any employer would benefit from her optimistic outlook on a complex project or in a chaotic crisis.

  • She’s a born leader.

If you’re looking for someone who can take direction, delegate, encourage and produce, Rebecca is your girl!  She currently serves as PRSSA Kent’s 2009-10 Vice President of Public Relations and is also the publicity chair for the 2010 YouToo Social Media Conference, a professional development seminar co-hosted by PRSSA Kent and the Akron Area PRSA chapter.  As a member of the 2009 PR Kent Bateman Team, Rebecca created the College:  RockIt! blog used as an important communication tool throughout the campaign.

If you want to find out more about Rebecca’s qualifications, check out her about me page or LinkedIn profile.  Also, feel free to contact her at rodell1@kent.edu.

East Coast #HAPPO employers: Hire this sassy lady!

February 19, 2010 at 5:04 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Posted by: Rebecca

As soon-to-be public relations graduates searching for employment after graduation, Shantae and I were thrilled to discover Valerie Simon and Arik Hanson‘s brainchild: #HAPPO.

We’re graduating in difficult economic conditions, but Shantae and I are confident in our abilities, and we’re confident in each other.  As a dynamic co-blogging duo, we decided #HAPPO presented the perfect opportunity to put each other on a pedestal.  (Believe me: Shantae deserves to be on one!)

Here are a few reasons why I think potential employers on the East Coast should hire the “sassy” component of this terrific twosome:

  • She brings a breadth of experience to the table.

Shantae completed two university internships and a corporate internship during her time at Kent State, and she is currently interning in the public relations department at an advertising agency.  Throughout her internships, Shantae gained a breadth of experience in internal communications, media relations, Web content management systems and event planning.  Shantae’s “melting pot” of public relations experience makes her very adaptable, which is essential in this profession.

I don’t know many 22-year-old professionals who can say they created two public relations campaigns for real-world clients before graduating from college, but Shantae can.  The research, strategy, planning and writing involved in these campaigns are invaluable.

  • Shantae knows how to lead, how to listen and how to delegate.

Shantae took on several leadership roles throughout her college years. As Kent State PRSSA’s 2009-2010 vice president of professional relations, Shantae displayed outstanding leadership qualities by planning the chapter’s meetings and coordinating speakers. As a member of the 2009 PR Kent Bateman team, Shantae planned and executed a successful financial aid event. She took on a large leadership role when she wrote PRSSA Kent State’s regional activity bid.  She is currently chairing the student committee for the third annual YouToo Social Media Conference, which will be co-hosted by PRSSA Kent State and the Akron Area PRSA Chapter.

  • She’s quick and witty.

Reason No. 2,294 why I love Shantae: She always has something witty to say!

I think Shantae’s quick, witty personality translates into her professional life, as she integrates her sharp skills into her writing and daily conversation.   She’s an on-your-toes thinker who can adjust to change on a whim.

  • She never gives up.

If you’re looking for an employee who can stick through those time-consuming, difficult projects, Shantae’s the PR pro you need.   If there’s one thing I know about Shantae, it’s that she doesn’t give up.  She’s willing to stick through difficult situations: no matter what the circumstance.

Want to learn more about Shantae’s experience?  View her about me page or LinkedIn profile.  You may also contact her at srollin2@kent.edu.

Exploring the post-grad bucket list

February 15, 2010 at 7:09 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Posted by: Rebecca

After living with me for six months, my roommates Shantae and Mary Jo can attest to the fact that I hardly ever watch TV.  However, while flipping through channels over winter break, I came across MTV’s The Buried Life, a series about a few guys on a mission to cross items off their bucket lists.

My epic television discovery sparked a conversation with Shantae, and we started to wonder: What do we want to achieve after we graduate from college?

Here are a few serious and not-so-serious things I’d like to purchase/accomplish when I have a steady income and post-graduation free time:

  • Buy a Pottery Barn or Crate & Barrel couch.

“Normal” grads dream of buying a fancy new car or an expensive electronic when they get their first big check.  My dream purchase?  A Pottery Barn couch! I could spend hours (and I have) browsing through furniture catalogs and perusing through interior design stores.  I’ve had my eyes on an overpriced, plush couch for quite some time now, and I’m ready to make the big purchase.

  • Add a furry friend to my family.

DogMy parents have never been animal lovers; therefore, my brother and I led a childhood sans pets (tragic, I know.)  I begged for a kitten from the time I knew what a kitten was, and my parents finally caved in on my 13th birthday.  After my beloved cat died in a car-related accident, I decided I didn’t want another pet until I graduated from college.  I’m looking forward to purchasing a furry friend to keep me company.

  • Teach the kiddos.

I taught Sunday school during my freshman and sophomore years of college, but I resigned to become more involved with PRSSA and focus on my studies.  Teaching 3rd-5th grade students was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, and I’d love to become involved in children’s church again.

  • Find a new hobby… or rediscover an old one.

I was a competitive dancer for 14 years, and I coached cheerleading and taught hip-hop and acrobatics classes during my high school and early college years.  Shantae and I took a hip-hop class several weeks ago, and it reminded me how much I miss dancing.  I’d love to rediscover this hobby or find a new one to enjoy.  Who knows… maybe I’ll be kickboxing or cake decorating around this time next year!

  • Mentor public relations students.

From resume advice to assistance in establishing new contacts, I am consistently amazed by the relationships I’ve developed with public relations professionals.  I am thankful for my college mentors, and I hope to serve as a resource to students, too.  I want to work for an organization that embraces professional organizations (such as AMA, PRSSA and IABC) and encourages me to share my knowledge.

Now it’s your turn!  Soon-to-be-grads: What are your post-grad goals?

Shooting in the dark: Applying to confidential job postings

February 10, 2010 at 6:44 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Posted by: Rebecca

Rebecca’s job search lesson #173: Spending my free time networking and making new connections will prove to be far more valuable than spending hours glued to job boards.

Although the sales-related postings and shady offers (you know what I’m talking about: the ones that say you’ll make $80,000 in one year while working from home) plaguing job boards can be annoying, I don’t think it hurts to browse these job sites.  I found my first non-retail job at a mental health office through a confidential classified ad, and I absolutely loved it.

Since I had a positive experience with my last response to a confidential company job posting, I was excited when I found a confidential public relations posting on Monster.com that fit my career goals and skills set.

However, applying for this job quickly turned into a stressful experience.  Here’s why:

  • To Whom It May Concern…?

My public relations professors drilled it in my head: It’s unacceptable to be lazy when searching for a job.  If you’re sending a cover letter, you should always do your research and find out who you’re sending the resume and cover letter to.  But if I don’t even know the name of the company, how can I direct the cover letter to a specific person?

  • I can do something for your company… if I knew what you did

The online job posting gave a solid list of skills needed for the position.  I knew I had the skills, but how can I tell a company I’m a perfect fit if I don’t even know what it does?  If I knew the company’s specialty, I may be able to make a stronger case for why I’d be an asset.  I also like to check out a company’s Web site to see if the organization seems to fit my personal goals and ethics, which is impossible to research when the company is confidential.

  • Creating an online presence… for a ghost

The job was primarily social media based.   Again, it’s difficult to gauge an organization’s current social media presence if it won’t reveal its identity on a job board.  How can I tell you how I’ll increase your Web presence if you won’t even tell me your name?

Don’t get me wrong: I’m sure this company does amazing work, and it seems like an excellent position.  I just never realized how difficult (and aggravating) it is to write a cover letter and sell your soul to an organization that won’t even reveal its name.

Students and entry-level pros: Have you ever applied to a confidential job posting?  If so, what are your experiences?  If you represent a company that lists confidential postings, what advice can you share with applicants?

Relient K, uncertainty and knowing everything will be just fine

February 1, 2010 at 5:10 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments
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Hi, my name is Rebecca.  And I am addicted to planning.

PlannerI’ve been a planner for as long as I can remember.  I’m the girl who picked out her college major during sophomore year of high school… and stuck with it.  I’m the girl who plans her finances dollar-for-dollar so she can afford that one special “item” (for me, it’s usually a pair of shoes I’ve been drooling over) months from now.  I’m the girl who starts writing her two-page assignment weeks before it’s due.

As a planning addict, it scares me that I have absolutely no clue what life will bring after I graduate on May 15.  I had a small “wow, I’m graduating and have no clue where I’ll be in a few months” moment while discussing the job search, moving and taking an internship vs. holding out for an entry-level position with my mom this past weekend.

Although I don’t know what the future holds, I do know one thing: It’s going to be great.

Relient K is one of those bands that “speaks” to me.  I’m pretty sure the group follows my life on Facebook and Twitter and writes a song for every situation I’m facing.  When I went through my iTunes library this weekend, I found these Relient K lyrics were a reflection of this “season” in my life:

A year’s passed since I wrote this song. A lot’s gone right; a lot’s gone wrong. But I know that Jesus has been there right by my side. And I see the sun still shines. It shines outside and in my life, and I know that everything is gonna be just fine.

So to all you graduating seniors out there: We have a bumpy road ahead of us.  However, PR’s 2010 outlook is optimistic, and I am confident that we’ll be rockin’ the PR world in no time.  Just know that in the end, everything will be just fine.  🙂

Mastering LinkedIn

January 26, 2010 at 6:16 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Posted by: Rebecca

Let’s face it: Staying on the social media bandwagon can be downright overwhelming.

Between keeping track of Twitter trends, posting relevant tweets, participating in Twitter chats, maintaining Facebook relationships, bookmarking helpful links, blogging and commenting on blog posts, social media can consume a hefty chunk of your day.

I love learning and contributing, and I wish I had heaps of spare time to devote to social media.  However, this future PR pro loves her sleep far too much to comment on blogs at 4 a.m., so I had to choose to devote time to social media tools that will aid my job search.

As an avid Twitter and Facebook user, I was initially hesitant to add another social media network to my full plate.  However, I finally broke down and created a LinkedIn profile for several reasons:

  1. Several public relations and marketing professionals (Chuck Hemann was a persuasive proponent) in my network preached about its ability to connect young college grads to professionals.
  2. Google indexes my LinkedIn profile in the top four search results for “Rebecca Odell.”   That’s SEO at its finest!  A LinkedIn profile is a prime opportunity for human resource managers to stumble across my job experiences during a simple Google search.
  3. I saw LinkedIn as an opportunity to share an expanded resume with potential employers.  I’m trying to keep my traditional paper resume on one page, so a LinkedIn profile can contain the nitty, gritty details I can’t fit on my tangible resume.

LinkedInGoogle

According to Gaj-It’s LinkedIn post, my LinkedIn profile is in good shape thanks to public privacy settings, work-related status updates and group memberships.  However, I still have several questions about my profile:

  1. Are recommendations a “make or break” point for potential employers?  What do you do if your past work/internship supervisors do not have LinkedIn profiles?
  2. Should my LinkedIn profile serve as an extension of my resume, or should LinkedIn summarize my resume?

Soon-to-be graduates, entry-level pros and managers: What are your opinions/experiences with LinkedIn?  How important is LinkedIn to find jobs/recruit potential employees?  Are recommendations really that important?

Rebecca's LinkedIn Profile


Job hunting: How soon is too soon to start?

January 14, 2010 at 10:00 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 17 Comments
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Posted by: Rebecca

After spilling our hearts and posting our thoughts on where we’d like to head after graduation, Shantae and I began to wonder: Who’s hiring, anyway?

To answer the mind-boggling question, my sassy roommate and I visited several Web sites to gain insight on which companies posted entry-level job openings for public relations grads within the past month.

Surprise! We found several public relations agencies and corporations in our target cities that are currently hiring, and many of these available positions fit our educational backgrounds and skills sets.  Image courtesy of www.websitesandsoundbites.com

In this economy, it’s promising to see available positions for recent grads.  However, Shantae and I are stumped, and we have several questions about the job-search process.

PR pros and HR extraordinaires: We know it’s important to network, but how soon is too soon to start the job hunt?  What is the average time span between submitting an application, interviewing and starting the job?   If a company posts a job opening in January, is it foolish to submit an application if we’re not graduating until May?

Feel free to weigh in with your own experiences!

Rebecca’s Perspective: Where in the world am I going?

January 12, 2010 at 10:12 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 28 Comments
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In 2009, I escaped Ohio’s grey skies three times and experienced several climates and cultures the great U.S.A. offers.

In July, I enjoyed the hustle, bustle and deep-dish pizza of Chicago.  Toward the end of summer break, I headed down the East Coast to enjoy Virginia Beach’s sandy, relaxed atmosphere.  I traveled to San Diego in November, and the city’s abundant sunshine made me realize I could live in a box along the bay and be completely content with my life.

After visiting these cities, reality struck.

I’m four months away from my college graduation, and unless I’d like to live in my humble Kent abode until the end of time, I need to get serious about where I’d like to live.

So here’s the deal: My spontaneous side thinks it’s a fabulous idea to pack up my small-town Midwestern life on a whim and head to the West Coast.  However, my sensible side reminds me an average one-bedroom apartment price of $2,273 per month in San Francisco is not realistic for an unmarried, entry-level pro with college debt and a car payment.  It didn’t take me long to realize I’m going to have to make a compromise.

I found a plethora of lists comprising the best cities for fresh college grads, including these lists by Gradspot.com and The Wall Street Journal.  As I searched list after list, I noticed a trend among large cities like Boston, Washington, D.C., NYC, Chicago and Atlanta.

These cities are great, but I’m not sure if they’re a realistic match for my needs as a 21-year-old newbie.  I’m a public relations major- not an accounting or engineering major- and my first paycheck will reflect that.  I’d love to work in one of these cities at some point in my career, but I’d like to have solid work experience in my public relations tool belt before I pack up and head to the land of ridiculously priced studio apartments and budget-busting grocery bills.

So which growing city can I relocate to that boasts a reasonable driving distance back home, a vibrant social scene and opportunities to grow as a public relations professional?

Columbus, Ohio!

OSU football game

Looking at a sea of scarlet at my first OSU game. Love at first sight.

What’s not to love about Columbus?  The 15th largest city in the U.S. has everything I’m looking for (okay, minus the perfect weather): cute communities/suburbs like German Village and Worthington, delicious restaurants, entertainment, dainty coffee shops, affordable rent and fabulous career opportunities in health care, corporate and agency PR.  Did I mention OSU football, too?

Please note: I’m not eliminating job opportunities that may pop up throughout the country or in Northeast Ohio.  I’m impressed by the amazing PR/marketing professionals I’ve met in the Akron/Cleveland/Canton network, and I’d be honored to start my career here.  However, I’ve lived in “the 330” my entire life, and a part of me yearns to see what other areas of the state have to offer.

I’ve picked my city. Did you pick yours?

Soon to be grads: Where would you like to relocate and why?  New pros: Did you have to relocate?  If so, how did you choose to make your new home?

Ch-ch-ch Changes: Shantae’s Perspective

January 5, 2010 at 9:30 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Senior night with the rents!

It’s funny how things change so quickly.  I remember being an energetic 18-year-old high school senior who danced, cheered and rocked knee highs with my plaid skirt at the Catholic high school I attended.  I remember sitting around with my three best friends talking about our plans after graduation day. We were unsure about where to go to college and which major to pursue.  Overall, life was simple and carefree with few commitments and all the time in the world to think about what came next.  I was really on top of my game! 

Fast forward four years:  I’m 22 years old, I pull all-nighters more than I sleep, my coffee addiction could send me to rehab but I wouldn’t want it any other way.  I love a challenge and cannot wait to put my PR skills to the test.  But I still worry.  I spend a lot of time talking with my roommates, Mary Jo and Rebecca, about where we will be in a year.  Will we be able to find  jobs that give us the opportunity to learn and grow as PR professionals?  Will our ethics be tested?  Will we be able to pay the rent? 

It’s strange to think I’ll be an adult who is responsible for more than a paper in my Tactics class or exam in a history course.  I’ll be the person steering my career in the direction of failure or success, but no pressure. 

Rebecca and I came up with the brilliant idea, over coffee I think, to begin a blog to explore our expectations and fears about becoming PR pros.  We hope to discuss issues like making a good impression in an interview, building networks in other states and even negotiating wages for an entry-level position.  I’m not afraid of a little criticism and welcome your advice. 

Rebecca and I are as different as night and day, but we both want successful careers and believe this blog will be a tool to get us there.  Here’s to the unknown!

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