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.

PRSSA- The Reason I’ll Be Successful

One word to describe the first day at your first internship?

Horrifying.

Walking into Needham Partners on my first day of my first ever internship was one of the most nerve-wracking  days of my life. I was so scared I wasn’t going to be good enough, that I wasn’t going to be the intern they were hoping for.

After my first few days, I started to realize that I had nothing to be nervous about because I was prepared for whatever they would throw my way.

Why was I prepared? I owe it all to PRSSA-UD. eboard

I couldn’t be happier that I joined PRSSA at the beginning of my freshman year because I have already learned more than I would ever learn in a classroom. First, I learned about all of the do’s and dont’s of resume making in PRSSA I learned that when applying for specific jobs/internships, you have to change your resume to appeal to the people at that company. When applying for my internship at Needham Partners, which is a marketing and public relations company that organizes large conferences for huge corporations and important people, I knew some of the things on my resume wouldn’t be relevant when they were reviewing my resume so I took them off.

Second, during PRSSA, we had a meeting dedicated to making and perfecting our LinkedIn profiles. Having a LinkedIn that is updated and descriptive is very important for employers when they are looking for new employees. Having a LinkedIn came in handy when getting my internship because I have been using it very often in all of the work that I do in the office.

Another great thing about PRSSA is all of the trips that we go on. Every semester we take trips to talk to professionals in all types of industries. They tell us about how they got to where they are today and they give us tips about  what we can do to be successful. This year I went to Tipton Communications, a PR agency in Newark, DE and Hunter Public Relations in NYC. I learned so much from the people working at these two companies and they gave me so many great tips that I have been using at my internship and that I can use in the future.

Lastly, because of PRSSA I feel that I have matured professionally. Being able to watch all of our Executive Board this year, and having the amazing opportunity to be on the Executive Board next year, I feel that I have matured a lot. If I had started my internship a year ago I would not only have been very un-prepared but I wouldn’t have been as emotionally ready or as mature as I am starting my internship now. I am so fortunate to have been given the opportunity to intern at this great company and I owe all of my success at this internship and in the future to PRSSA-UD.

Written by: Katherine Bartell

katherineKatherine Bartell is a Sophomore at the University of Delaware and is from Nanuet, Ny. She is majoring in Communication Interest and minoring in Spanish. Katherine is so excited to be apart of the PRSSA Executive board. She loves the beach and spending time with family and friends. Katherine’s favorite place she has ever traveled to was Rome, Italy and she hopes to be able to return to Italy and travel in Europe after she graduates college. She has a crazy obsession for Disney and loves the Netflix series Orange is the New Black. Katherine hopes to have a career in PR agency when she graduates college. She is extremely proud to be a Blue Hen and feels so lucky and happy to attend UD.

New executive board spotlight: Program Director, Sydney Scheiner

prssa– Name: Sydney Scheiner
– Class year: Junior
– PRSSA E-Board Position: Program Director
– Nickname: Squidney
– Favorite meal/foods: Breakfast is my favorite. Put pancakes and eggs in front of me and I’m the happiest person alive
– If you could meet anyone: If I could meet anyone, it would have to be Amy Poehler and/or Tina Fey.
– Dream career: My dream career would be to be on Broadway or a rapper, but my realistic dream job would be to work for SNL or Jimmy Fallon.
– Sibling(s): I have an older brother named Corey who is 24 and works at Major League Baseball Productions.
– Pet(s): I have the poster dog for golden retrievers. His name is Parker, he’s 4, and my parents treat him more like a child than me.
– If you could travel anywhere: If I could travel anywhere I would go to Australia, then some small town in Montana.
– Favorite place to study on campus: The best place to study on campus in my opinion is the Chapel, but when that gets too crowded, go to Alfred Lerner, it’s usually very empty.
– Guilty pleasure: Jersey Shore and Keeping Up With The Kardashians
– Weird fact: I have an incredible memory. I remember very trivial things about people and I never forget anyone’s birthday.

Everything You Need to Know About Informational Interviews

For many students, choosing the perfect career path is a daunting and nerve wracking experience. Communication majors have a plethora of job opportunities, but some do not know their perfect fit or how to pursue them. A little, overlooked gem called the informational interview, however, is a way to open students’ eyes and put them on the right path to success.

The information interview is not an interview conducted in the hopes of landing a job with the professional the student meets with. Through the informational interview, students and prospective professionals can meet with professionals in the industry to gain insight on career advice, the industry they work in, and the corporate culture of their own company. Job seekers can also be unemployed, or employed and considering new options.

This is the perfect opportunity to ask any questions the student may have about jump starting their own careers. Students or current professionals can find employment leads, and expand their professional network. The employed professional from whom the potential candidate seeks advice and information also learns about a new potential colleague or hire and builds their own network through the conversation. 

In order to make the connection with a prospective employer, students can connect with alumni or professionals through LinkedIn or can ask colleagues to make introductions.  Jennifer Winter of The Muse, noted that an informational interview “is a request most people would feel flattered to accommodate.” So anyone interested in obtaining one should not look at it as a cold call, but as a “reporter calling an expert to research an article. Send the person a friendly, concise email that gets right to the point.” Winter suggests opening an email or phone call with a message such as, “I’m thinking about a career change and would love to pick your brain about your experience.”

According to a blog post written by Marci Alboher for the New York Times, if a person is willing and able to meet for an informational interview there are several things to keep in mind:   1. Informational interviews are simply a tool for building relationships and expand one’s professional network, not as a way to get a job – the point is to learn. 2. Wait for the right time for both you and the employer you are looking to speak with. This means leaving the ball in the employer’s court to choose a time that works for them. It also means properly researching the company the person works for prior to calling or meeting and have questions ready beforehand. 3. Never overstay your welcome. It’s always better to signal the meeting is ending and let the other person say he or she is open to continuing the discussion.

Alboher also provided potential questions one can ask when partaking in an informational interview:

1. What do you like most about what you do, and what would you change if you could?

2. What are the types of jobs that exist where you work and in the industry in general?

3. What are some of the biggest challenges facing your company and your industry today?

4. How do you see your industry changing in the next 10 years?

5. How has writing a book (starting a blog, running a company, etc.) differed from your expectations? What have been the greatest moments and biggest challenges?

 

By: Nicole Sullivan

Nicole Sullivan is a Mass Communication Major with Advertising and Journalism minors. She is the Vice President of External Affairs for the Public Relations Student Society of America as well as a Senior Reporter for the University of Delaware’s independent student-run newspaper, The Review.