Break Through the Interview: A Recap of the Interview Skill Slam

The word ‘interview’ often makes people cringe. Interviewers can be intimidating, stressful, and can make you rethink what you should and shouldn’t have put on your resume. People walk into interviews never fully knowing what to expect, and never fully able to figure out whether the words “we’ll be in touch” mean you got the job, or that you’ll never hear from the interviewer again.

However, thanks to PRSSA-UD’s skill slam on Monday, March 23, entitled “Break Through the Interview,” planned by the pre-professional organization’s Vice President of Professional Development, Laura Hepp, some of the PRSSA members had the opportunity to receive feedback from PR professionals on their interview skills, and their resumes.

I was fortunate enough to be allowed to sit through members’ interviews and take notes on the feedback professionals provided, as well as, listen to what they said are dos and don’ts for any interview. What I learned from sitting through these interviews was always expect a behavioral based question, and don’t let it frazzle you. Possible employers want to know that you can think on your feet, especially when they ask you a question such as “give me an example of a time you tried to accomplish something and failed.” This kind of question sends people into panic mode, but no need to panic. Turn a negative into a positive. Admit to the failure. We all have them, but make sure you end with how this failure bettered you in some way.

Also, always maintain eye contact and shake an interviewers interviewhand. It seems simple enough, but in the heat of the moment a lot of people tend to forget about this simple gesture. Don’t let that be you. A handshake and steady eye contact make you seem confident and they differentiate you from someone who is so nervous they almost seem unsure about their own abilities.

Always make sure to sound enthusiastic about what you love, and be able to verbalize how you’d be an asset to the organization whose position you are interviewing for. It’s nice that you enjoy your profession, but interviewers don’t care about why you think a given position is the best fit for you they care about why you are the best fit for them.

Lastly, as for resumes don’t be afraid to get specific. Explain in detail how you personally have positively impacted the places you have worked for and make sure to put the most important and relevant thing you’ve done at the very top of your resume.

This was my first PRSSA skill slam and based on what I learned, I encourage everyone to jump at the chance to participate in the next skill slam. Who knows, you might just take away from it.

By: Stephanie Pinilla

Stephanie Pinilla is a junior Psychology and Interpersonal Communications double major, working toward a Women’s Studies minor. She is currently a general member of PRSSA-UD, and works as a media planner for Now Hear This UD public speaking competition. Stephanie hopes to end the year by becoming an Oral Communication Fellow and by becoming a more active member of PRSSA-UD. Follow her on Twitter, @lilpinil.

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PRSSA-UD’s General Meeting Recap: Crisis Communication

Jumping into the spring semester, PRSSA-UD wasted no time getting down to business at their official second meeting on Monday, March 2.

The meeting began with two speakers talking to the organization about SPPA (School of Public Policy and Administration) and its potential to help members who decide they want to join and apply. From there, a quick re-cap of general information was discussed, such as the benefits of becoming a dues paying member and the organization’s mentor-mentee program, the PRSA Delaware award that members can apply for, and a Hunter PR Fellowship opportunity that is being offered. Also introduced were things to look out for this semester, such as the headshot fundraiser April 15 with discounts for dues paying members and the first PRSSA-UD Skill Slam of the semester, entitled “Break Through the Interview” on March 23.

Once the basics were covered, members had the opportunity to use their own skills and brainstorm. In a PR-strategy workshop, members were asked to handle an example crisis. The workshop included a scenario that actually occurred in real life; when a link between a local E.coli outbreak and Odwealla’s fresh, unpasteurized apple juice was discovered, in which one child died and more than 60 people became sick. This situation prompted more than 20 lawsuits and members were asked to use their PR knowledge and split into groups, visualizing themselves as the head of PR to determine how they would handle the situation, who their audience was, and how they would go about creating awareness whilst changing attitudes and behavior.

Each group came up with their own unique spins on how to handle the crisis, including press conferences where high-ranking company officials would present. Members stated that in the conferences representatives should use total transparency and apologize, make it clear to consumers of the drink that the company valued buyers’ trust, and should additionally state what changes the team would make to their processes in order to keep said trust. Also mentioned was compensation for the one child who passed away and those who became sick because of the apple juice product and to put a FAQ sheet online of commonly asked questions and their answers about the product and the companies’ procedures.

After the exercise members got the chance to read how the company handled the crisis in real-life. Astonishingly enough, it was almost identical to what members came up with… PRSSA-UD really knows how to train students for the future field they are considering. The meeting concluded with a quick hot chocolate social where mentors and their mentees got a chance to connect after the long UD winter break. Although cut short by an incoming class, the atmosphere was relaxed, yet informative, helping all members to feel at ease and prepared for the upcoming semester of events to come.

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By: Brittany O’Connell

Brittany O’Connell is a freshman communications interest that is passionate about art and social media. She is a Social Media Ambassador for UD on her Twitter account @BlueHenBrittany, and hopes to broaden her horizons, step out of her comfort zone and help many throughout her next three years at UD.

How Lena Dunham Sets the Standard for Women in the Workplace

As the producer, writer, director and main character of HBO’s hit show Girls, Lena Dunham has developed a large fan base for her confident, uninhibited spirit on and off the screen. As a fan myself, I was thrilled when she came out with her memoir, “Not That Kind of Girl.” Like so many other avid Girls viewers, I was curious to learn what seemingly twisted, yet intriguing, things influenced Dunham to become the carefree screenwriter she is today. By advocating for what she believes in and sharing life stories in her book, Dunham has demonstrated that it’s easy for women to be their own publicists without having to conform to what the media expects of them.

One of Dunham’s essays that really resonated with me explained how she was working at a high-end baby’s clothing boutique after graduating from college. Although she was paid decently under the table and worked with some of her best friends, Dunham realized she was bored of scanning items and folding clothes every day. She missed the creative side of her work that she had fallen out of touch with. “But ambition is a funny thing,” she writes. “It creeps in when you least expect it and keeps you moving, even when you think you want to stay put. I missed making things, the meaning it gave this long march we call life.” I realized, like Dunham, I have the power to set my own standards for what I want out of life and will always push myself to exceed those expectations. Beyond that, I will never settle for a job that reduces my creative drive or makes me feel like I’m not making a difference in the world.

Dunham also describes feeling envious of men in o-NOT-THAT-KIND-OF-GIRL-facebookthe workplace who appear to be unapologetically at ease, while she feels the pressure to be a people-pleaser just because that’s what is expected of women. Dunham writes, “It’s a special kind of privilege to be born into the body you wanted, to embrace the essence of your gender even as you recognize what you are up against. Even as you seek to redefine it.” This quote encompasses a major theme that seems to motivate Dunham as a female artist. She contradicts this envy of the male population by being unapologetic in her own words and actions. Her authentic, autonomous personality and work ethic proves that women don’t need to be people-pleasing robots to be successful in the real world. They just need to be themselves.

By: Michelle Sachs

Michelle Sachs is a sophomore communications major and advertising minor. She is an active member of PRSSA-UD and is a member of Spoon University UD’s marketing team. Follow her on Twitter: @michelle_sachs and @spoonu_delaware.

Photo credit: The Huffington Post

Interning at KEDS: Communications Summer Internship Experience and 3 Tips

keds

This past summer, I interned at Keds Shoes headquarters. My responsibilities included organizing and preparing sample shoes for meetings, photo shoots and reviews, giving my own input on the Spring and Summer 2015 lines and pulling materials for the 2015 Holiday line.

I was also sent to do fieldwork at stores in Boston for the marketing team. Along with my fellow intern, I put together a presentation of store displays and products to raise Keds employees’  awareness of the current market. We communicated to them through a competitor’s approach to product sales.

We were invited to meetings in the Keds showroom to observe the CEO and the Keds marketing and design team review the Summer 2015 line and decided which prototypes would be cut. During the meeting, the CEO asked my fellow intern and me for our opinions on a shoe. I had to be able to communicate to a room full of KEDS employees my opinion and reasoning regarding the shoe style. Communication is all about getting the word out. Whether it be your opinion at a meeting, communicating with the buyer through an ad with the company’s spokesperson, like Taylor Swift, or building relationships with other companies like Kate Spade and Hollister to create capsule collections.

Tips on how to make the most out of your internship: amelia

1. Ask Questions

I went into my internship with no experience. I knew that I loved Keds and fashion and this was the type of job I was interested in learning more about. In order to know if your internship is the job you want, ask your supervisor about their day-to-day responsibilities and see if you could picture yourself doing that. Also if you’re confused on a task, ask someone for help or to clarify exactly what he or she wants. They would much rather you ask them what they want before you do it wrong and waste valuable time.

2. Know What You’re Talking About, and If You Don’t Do Research

People will ask for your opinion, so have a clear one with reasoning to back it up. At Keds I was expected to know fashion terms and current trends, otherwise my input seemed invalid.

3. Approach Every Task with a Positive Attitude

If the task is stocking shoes all day on a rack, do it well. Approach the task determined to learn something from it. After spending all day stocking sample shoes, when designers would come over looking for a certain pair, I knew exactly where they were so I could grab it for them right away and answer questions about designs because I became familiar with the product.

By: Amelia Ludwick, Freshman Marketing and Fashion Merchandising double major. Follow Amelia’s college fashion and lifestyle blog on Instagram @universityedge and www.universityedge.weebly.com

Photo credit: www.Keds.com

The First Of Many Successful Meetings

PRSSA-UD shattered records of attendance at its very first general meeting on Monday, September 8 with a whopping 101 students packed into a Gore Hall classroom. Intrigued, the crowd sat and stood in any spot they could grab to hear the inspiring Laura Woodin share some of her wisdom on how to succeed in the PR world.

Working in Engineering Communications for DuPont, and being a former Blue Hen herself, Laura discussed everything and anything that could potentially help PR-hungry students. Topics such as how to possibly land jobs and internships through successful interviews, ways to help your business and peers flourish, and how to have the ability to foresee both barriers and opportunities for your company were all touched on. Because Woodin got her first internship due to PRSSA, it was quite refreshing and motivating to hear how she came full circle and succeeded in what she dreamt about. Laura explained, “When you have passion for the topic you’re interested in, that shines through.” This statement proved true, as throughout the presentation, all PRSSA members were enthralled in the information being given to them because of the content, but also in the enthusiastic and motivating way Woodin spoke about it.

Members got a chance to hear about a typical day for our hard-working guest speaker, although as pointed out in the presentation, no day in the public relations world is “typical.” The first meeting came to a close with Laura taking any questions from the crowd to better the group’s understanding. Overall, the first general meeting was a major success! And with how many interested and intelligent students showed up to learn, the PR world should brace itself for greatness.

 

PRSSA meeting

 

Photo credit to: Natalie Hines, PRSSA-UD President

By: Brittany O’Connell is a freshman communications interest with a hopeful minor in advertising. She is currently a new member of PRSSA-UD and hopes to broaden her horizons, step out of her comfort zone and help many throughout her first semester at UD.

Strike Gold: Uncover Your Dream Job

As college students, we extensively prepare for our futures—raising our sails, gripping the wheel, pushing off the dock and venturing into the vast sea of our future. We don’t quite know what lies ahead, but we do have our sights set on one thing: finding our own treasure chest of joy, otherwise known as our dream job. We begin our search with internships and test out
the waters. But how do we find that one perfect match, our true passion, our calling? Well, we all embark on different journeys, but six key components can help all twenty-somethings set sail and strike gold.

  1. Explore your Interests/Passionsspongebob

We’ve all heard the saying “work hard to play hard,” but what if you could do both simultaneously? Try interning with an organization of which you’re already apart (like your school, church, gym, part-time job, country club, favorite charity, food bank, community theatre, etc.) and see if it strikes your fancy. You might just fall in love with working behind-the-scenes and discover you were standing on your treasure all along.

  1. Try new things with an open heart and mind

Perhaps you yearn for something new, uncharted waters in which you may sink or swim—and why not with a short-term internship! You won’t have enough time to sink if you tried. 😉 Branch out by working in a completely unfamiliar environment and appease that adventurous appetite of yours. Maybe you’ll shift your sails in a new direction. Maybe you’ll return to your previous route. Regardless, you can look forward to attaining a wealth of self-knowledge and a priceless confidence boost.

  1. Monitor your energy and attitude at work

Find yourself whining and groaning as you get ready for work every morning? Bashing your forehead on the desk in boredom? Counting the hours ‘til you go home? Or do you smile through your lunch break, leave work excited for tomorrow, and incessantly relay stories to friends? Every day presents ups and downs, but when measured in the long term, these habits reveal a great deal about our happiness and mental wellbeing. Monitor yourself every couple of hours—discover trends in your emotions, likes/dislikes, thoughts and habits in a diary or Word Document. This way, you can define your nonnegotiable needs for your fulltime job.

  1. Set up informational interviews

Take a walk in someone else’s shoes—meet with professionals who work in your dream job/industry! Prepare questions and jot down notes as they give you an exclusive one-on-one. They can tell you all about their college experiences, job preparation, current job responsibilities, daily workload, work/life balance and more. Perhaps they already found the treasure you seek and could drape you in their pearls of wisdom.

  1. Look forward to the future

No two paths identically match, no one reaches his or her treasure on one defined route and no one knows what waves or tides may pull your search in a new direction. Instead of feeling fearful, embrace your courage and college diploma and embark on the adventure of a lifetime—the adventure of your lifetime. You may find your treasure or your treasure may find you. Either way, you’re in for a great ride and a tremendous prize. Happy hunting!

Written by: Laura Hepp

Laura Hepp is a rising junior mass communication major with minors in advertising and theatre performance studies. She proudly serves as Vice President of Professional Development for PRSSA-UD. Her other roles include Blue Hen Ambassador for UD’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions and active volunteer at The Journey church. With a passion for musical theatre, she performs with Harrington Theatre Arts Company and multiple community theaters in the Tri-State and Lancaster County areas.

From Captive to Pariah: Public Relations Lessons from the Coverage of Bowe Bergdahl

It had all the makings of great media story – an American soldier rescued from five years of terrorist captivity and returned home to his family and loved ones in a small Midwestern town. But as most Americans now know in the case of Bowe Bergdahl, the reality is not that simple. The feel-good story of the returning soldier morphed into a public relations nightmare.
The United States brokered a deal to exchange five Taliban prisoners for Bergdahl’s safe return on May 31. The seemingly simple exchange became tainted by details of Bergdahl’s prior military service. A Pentagon investigation concluded that Bergdahl walked away from his post shortly before his capture, and further reports allege that as many as six soldiers were killed in the search for Bergdahl. Finally, many view the trade as a departure from America’s policy to not negotiate with terrorists.
In creating messages for high-stakes issues, communicators need to address both established principles and uncomfortable allegations. Despite the controversy of Bergdahl’s actions, he was an American soldier and prisoner of war, and as such, the military was honor-bound to bring him home. The military will still try him for any crimes he committed as a soldier, but can only do so if he survived his captivity. Despite the disrepute brought by his actions, Bergdahl deserves a fair trial separate from the conditions of his release from the Taliban. These factors are time-honored codes of the U.S. government and military. Communicators cannot speak to negative details in the absence of established principles, and vice versa.

The media maelstrom over Bergdahl’s release also highlights the fickleness of media and political pundits. Several politicians tweeted out initial congratulatory messages about Bergdahl’s release, only to delete them within days – or hours – after a growing tide of criticism. Stakeholders and audiences can change sides quickly and without warning. Their decisions can depend heavily on factors external to the issue itself, such as the political environment. Two lessons can be learned here: review all the facts before establishing a hardline position, and don’t expect public attitude to remain static. Public relations professionals must constantly gauge public opinion and adjust strategies accordingly.


While politically complex stories such as that of Bowe Bergdahl offer no simple responses, PR professionals can maintain inclusive, consistent messages and monitor public attitudes. These communication methods have the potential to shape public discourse as much as the story itself.
Sources:
http://mashable.com/2014/06/03/republicans-delete-bowe-bergdahl-praise/

Maddie Brooks is a rising senior Mass Communication major with a minor in Public Health. She is a UD Social Media Ambassador and a member of PRSSA, Lori’s Hands, and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. Follow her on Twitter, @BlueHenMaddie and @Mbrooksinde.