Hear It From The PR Pros

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Hear It From The PR Pros

This blog is written by Ellie Jesse, our Campus Ambassador from UNC-Chapel Hill. Ellie is a junior transfer student studying public relations at the School of Journalism. Ellie was an intern at Peppercom Strategic Communications in New York and is now a freelancer for the agency.

A Q&A with two members of the Intern Committee at Peppercom Strategic Communications

What do employers really look for in resume? What does the perfect intern look like? What does it take to stand out these days? Well I had the chance to speak to Laura Bedrossian and Kristin Davie, both Account executives and members of the Intern Committee at Peppercom Strategic Communications, to hear their take on some of the most commonly asked questions from interns!

EJ: What do you look for in a resume?

KD: Proofreading, do it! Also, include links to your Twitter, LinkedIn profiles or personal blogs at the bottom. Make sure that you include quantifiable details. If you had any past experience at agencies where you drafted a pitch that resulted in any media hits, put that. Quantify results.

LB: We have been getting a lot of resumes where you can tell people have changed the margins to include more information. It shows that they’re not concise. You should be putting the best and most recent experience you’ve had.

Do you have any tips on cover letters?

KD: If you put “to whom it may concern” it shows that you didn’t do any research. That might be a strike against you. Do something to show that you’ve done the research.

LB: You can read the website, you can look at resumes on LinkedIn, but you need to know a little bit about the agency you are interviewing for.

Should applicants follow up to see if you received their resume? If so, when?

KD: Following up is great 2-3 days after you send your resume. We receive hundreds and hundreds of resumes. I don’t mind follow-ups to ask if I received it. We have had people in the past leave multiple voicemails and e-mails and it came to the point where I would never consider them because they were so inappropriate.

What are some interview deal breakers?

KD: Deal breaker: if you show up in jeans, you’re done. Always heir on the side of formality. It’s also very easy to tell if you haven’t researched the company. If you have taken the time to go through the website and do some research, it comes across very easily in an interview.

What are questions you think every prospective intern should ask during the interview?

KD: The best questions are the ones that stump us. Usually I’ll remember those candidates more. Always make sure you have questions prepared. The best questions show that you are a big thinker.

What would you recommend students do while still in school to prepare for an internship?

KD: If your track is PR, become a member of PRSSA if there’s a chapter at your school. If you can take a presentation or public speaking class definitely get that experience too.

LB: Join the student newspaper or try to get any leadership experience that will become relevant for an internship.

How much experience are you looking for in a candidate?

KD: At Peppercom we look for people who have prior experience, ideally at other agencies.

LB: We don’t expect juniors and seniors to have tons of experience, but if you are personable on the phone and convey a go-getter attitude during your interview, that’s great. Writing skills are also huge.

What is your take on social media?

KD: I think you need to show that there is an interest in social media. Some people might come in with more experience than others, but if you’re looking at agencies that do digital work, they’re going to look for at least LinkedIn and Twitter.

LB: I would recommend following your interviewers on Twitter and even Tweeting at them after your interview.

Should interns make Facebook private? What about Twitter?

KD: I would never expect a candidate to put their Facebook page on their resume. I don’t think there should be anything you have to hide on Twitter. From a hiring stand point, if you’re at the age where you’re looking for a full time position, I would suggest censoring yourself. I research candidates before they come in to judge their social media presence.

Talk a bit about the Peppercom internship program.

KD: Peppercom internships are full time, Monday-Friday, 9am-5:30 pm. Interns are put on 5-6 accounts where they work very closely with a Junior Account Executive. They are included on client calls, brainstorms, team meetings, etc. The internship program also includes smaller workshops for things such as writing, social media monitoring and meeting the management.

LB: We have three intern sessions a year. The spring session is January-May, the summer session is April- the end of August, and the fall session runs September-December. You are treated as a regular member of the team and are expected to build media lists, draft pitches and press releases, talk to reporters, etc.

What are the characteristics of a great intern?

LB: Someone who is proactive. We like people who step out of the box and do what people don’t expect. A person who sees what they want to do and work with other people to do it. A great intern will be someone who when the internship ends, the agency will notice that the intern is gone.

If you are interested in learning more about internships and entry level PR, check out Kristin and Laura’s blog, PRiscope (http://priscope.com). If you are looking for a spring internship, Peppercom is now taking applications for its spring internship session. Typically lasting three to four months, the spring internship session begins in January and runs through April. The deadline to apply is November 30th. Contact Kristin Davie at interncommittee@peppercom.com if you are interested!

This blog is written by Ellie Jesse, our Campus Ambassador from UNC-Chapel Hill. Ellie is a junior transfer student studying public relations at the School of Journalism. Ellie was an intern at Peppercom Strategic Communications in New York and is now a freelancer for the agency.