Stuck in a state of pre-grad purgatory

April 6, 2010 at 5:24 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Posted by: Rebecca

Six weeks from now, I’ll walk down the aisle.

No, I won’t be walking toward my prince charming in a fancy cathedral (although my boyfriend did try to pull an April Fool’s joke by changing his Facebook relationship status to “engaged.”  That’s a whole other story.)

I’ll be walking toward the stage at Kent State’s MAC Center, shaking hands with administration and taking hold of my college diploma.

As discussed in an earlier post, I am a self-proclaimed plan-a-holic.  I picked my college major when I was a junior in high school- and stuck with it.  I scribble to-do lists on Post-It notes.  I plan my schedule weeks in advance.  I create lists like it’s my job.  I make big plans for my life and the adventures ahead.

But here I am, six weeks away from my degree, stuck in a state of pre-graduation purgatory.  Planning is banned in this middle ground.  I know what I want to do and where I want to be: I’m just waiting for the right opportunity to come my way so I can move forward and plan the next step.

As I patiently wait to see what graduation will bring by exploring job and internship opportunities, I’ve participated in several informational interviews.  And although I haven’t landed a post-grad job quite yet, I’d like to share two lessons I’ve learned in this stressful, exciting journey:

Lesson No. 1: It’s a small word, after all.

A public relations professional once told me to never burn bridges, as “everyone knows everyone” in public relations.

I didn’t believe it at the time, but it’s so true.  I’ve met PR professionals in Columbus with varying careers and personal lives, yet they all seem to know each other.

This sense of “community” is a job seeker’s best asset.  I know the connections I’m making now will come in handy when the right position pops up.  I’m sure someone will know someone who knows I’m looking for a job in Columbus!

Lesson No. 2: Internships count.

If you’re an upper-division PR student who hasn’t completed an internship, go find one.

Now.

Internships give you a chance to prove yourself in the real world, make connections and gain the experience you’ll need to differentiate yourself from the competition.

I feel so blessed to say I completed three internships before my college graduation.  I love talking about my internship experiences with mentors and potential employers, and I am confident that these experiences will benefit my job search.  Sure: Internships made me miss many “college” experiences, like sleeping in until 11 a.m., enjoying lunch dates with friends and watching TV all day.  Waking up at 6 a.m. every day was difficult, but I know my early morning wake-up calls and 9-hour days will pay off in the long run.

If you’re also stuck in pre-graduation purgatory (aka searching for a job,) I’d love to chat.  What did you learn thus far?

Internships after graduation: The road to employment

February 2, 2010 at 7:15 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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Posted by Shantae

When I think about where I’ll be six months from now, I imagine myself in client meetings, pitching the media and networking with both seasoned and young public relations professionals. 

The PR program at Kent State continues to challenge me – pushing me to be better than I was last semester and last year.  As part of our curriculum, we’re required to complete a 300-hour internship at an approved company or organization.  It’s a long road, but in the end we hope to emerge as prepared, well-rounded professionals.  It’s a natural progression. 

However, tough economic times are making it increasingly more difficult for college grads to land an entry-level position.  I spoke with two PR Kent graduates who turned their internships into full-time positions.

Getting your foot in the door

Katelyn Luysterborg, a PR Kent graduate, turned her internship into a job at Cleveland advertising and PR firm, Marcus Thomas LLC.  She is an Assistant Account Executive.

Me:  What were your hopes immediately following graduation?

Katelyn:  Like all new grads, I wanted a full-time job. I worked hard during college and felt that I deserved the job of my dreams. But that didn’t come right away. I finished my internship for credit during the summer and stayed on for several months after until I was offered a full-time position.

Me:  How did you turn your internship into a career?

Katelyn:  Honestly, I think I proved to be an asset to company. I started out doing intern work and slowly earned more responsibilities. It didn’t come right away, but I never felt like I was doing something beneath me. Even the little, menial projects are important to making sure things run smoothly. I treated my internship like an extended job interview, which is what internships are.

The biggest thing is to show your boss that you’re willing to do anything to get the job done. For instance, staying late to finish a project or taking the extra step to make sure everything is perfect. Things like that don’t go unnoticed, even if someone doesn’t say something right away.

Me:  What advice do you have to offer soon-to-be grads who want a job, not an internship after graduation?

Katelyn:  My advice would be to not to discount internships. While you should absolutely apply for every entry-level position out there, apply for the internships as well. You never know what could happen, and it’s still a learning experience. Future employers want to see that you’re still active and willing to do what it takes, even if you don’t have your dream job.

Kendra Wheeler, another PR Kent grad, officially graduated in December 2009.  She completed her internship for credit at Liggett Stashower, an advertising and public relations agency in Cleveland, and was hired on as a Brand Specialist.

Me:  What is the greatest benefit(s) of interning after graduation?

Kendra:  I can think of a few benefits to interning after graduation:

1. It gives you a chance to enhance your skill set and resume. Interning after graduation will give you the opportunity to put ALL your skills from college to use. By this time, At this point, you have learned all there is to learn from the classroom and you have a better chance of standing out than another intern who may be in their junior or senior year of coursework.

2. It puts you in a better position to turn the internship into full-time work. Your employer knows that you are a recent graduate and looking for employment and if a position opens up, you will be a great candidate for employment (if you were an awesome intern). 

3. Taking an internship after graduation, allows you to explore different industries. Internships are a test-drive for your career path. You can try out a variety of professional industries to see if it is a good fit for you. Interning doesn’t carry the heavy commitment that employment does. Therefore, you can have internship after internship. This won’t be the case, once you start your career.

Me:  How did you turn your internship into a full-time position?

Kendra:  I turned my internship into a career by being the best worker I knew how to be. I took each task, no matter how tedious, and completed it fast and efficient. I was only an intern, but I wanted the staff at the agency to trust in me, my work and my abilities.

I was constantly trying to improve, so I would ask for feedback on my work. When someone asked me to complete a task, I wouldn’t just turn it in when I was finished. I would ask for feedback on the assignment. If there was something I could do better, I did it.

And of course, I did the things that every intern should do. I was on time for work, I stayed late to finish time-sensitive projects. Finally, I kept the agency staff updated on the progress of my various projects. 

I worked hard to be a “super intern” and when a position was open at the agency, I confidently went after it.

Me:  What advice do you have to offer soon-to-be grads who want a job, not an internship after graduation?

Kendra:  Soon-to-be graduates should take their internships seriously. You want your past employers to consider you for full-time employment. They should also remember to network. They should tell others that they are in the market for full-time employment.

Finally, soon-to-be grads should practice good interviewing skills and have their resumes professionally critiqued.

Make it work

Katelyn and Kendra didn’t aspire to be interns after working hard in school for four years, but they found the best in the situation and made their internship experiences work for them.  According to a recent post on Student Branding Blog:

“An internship, volunteer work, or part-time employment at a company of interest is a great way to get your foot in the door. Don’t settle for something that is going to make you miserable. Instead, think about the little steps you can take to push yourself in the right career direction.”

Recent graduates:  If you found yourself as an intern after graduation, how did you transition to a full-time position?  How did you stand out as intern?

 

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