#UDPRIntern: The Five Do’s and Don’ts of Interning for a Small Business

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When did you realize you were meant to work in public relations?

This past winter, I interned for The SuperNutritionist (SN), a nutritionist business based on Long Island. My favorite part of the experience? Getting a rush knowing I was helping a small business owner thrive in today’s economy through my social media strategies. That rush was my light-bulb moment; I knew from then on I was meant to pursue a career in public relations.

I happen to love developing social media campaigns for small businesses. Unlike working at an agency, at a small business you have only one client and only one brand to define, making it easier to invest all of your energy into achieving the owner’s goals.

Interning at a small business also provides a chance to test out all facets of a public relations career. I know my internship with the SN prepared me to handle everything from data analytics, to scheduling tactics in a content calendar, to even getting behind the camera and shooting videos!

Interested in looking into the small business internship market? Here are my top 5 tips for being the best public relations intern a business owner can have:

1. Do Develop a Social Media Plan and Content Calendar. Think of writing the plan and the calendar as creating the instructions for a new board game; they must be so foolproof and detailed that anyone can follow them without your help. These tools ensure that even when your internship is over, the business will have a consistent stream of fresh and varied content.

2. Don’t Ignore to What the Owner Is Looking For. Listen to what the business owner sees as their branding strategy or their selling point. Although you are in charge of developing the social media strategy, you need to make sure your boss’ vision is expressed. Once the plan and calendar are compiled, explain how every tactic contributes to overall awareness of their company and their brand.

3. Do Discuss ROI with the Owner. Business owners often crave immediate results from social media- more likes, more followers, more money, etc. It is critical you explain that social media is not a short-term process, it’s a long-term commitment. Let them know ROI is also measured via impact, influence, and most importantly, engagement. While you should still evaluate metrics the owner cares about, also make sure to evaluate the ones you believe will create the most results in order to prove what works and what doesn’t.

4. Don’t Execute Something That’s Busy Work. Small business owners don’t have large budgets or amounts of time to dedicate towards managing a campaign that doesn’t generate results. Do your research before you implement a campaign or suggest new types of content to curate. You can never guarantee results, but backing up your ideas with research gives them a better chance of actually creating meaningful impact.

5. Do Introduce New Platforms to Optimize Reach. I introduced the SN to Instagram and Pinterest, providing her brand with desirable multimedia content. More platforms also equal more target audiences for the business to reach (for example, the SN can now target older women on Pinterest versus the young adults on Instagram).

It may not be a glamorous agency experience, but working for a small business teaches you a lot about meeting a client’s social needs. As an intern, you will not only learn, but you will also leave a small business better equipped to tackle the ever-changing worlds of social media marketing and public relations.

And if you weren’t already convinced that PR is the career for you, executing all of these tasks for a small business will definitely help you figure out what you want. Go ahead, have your light-bulb moment.

By: Paxton Mittleman

Paxton Mittleman is a sophomore Communications and English double major with an Advertising minor. When Paxton isn’t attending PRSSA-UD meetings or writing for the blog, she is volunteering with the sisters of Gamma Sigma Sigma, planning events with the UD Honors Program Senior Fellows, or tweeting up a storm on her Social Media Ambassador Twitter account. Feel free to connect with her on LinkedIn!

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#UDPRIntern: 4 Tips For The End of Winter Session

As time races forward toward the coming semester, my winter session dreams begin to dwindle. No longer am I able to brag that my possibilities are draped out like clothes on a line, just waiting to be experienced over winter session. Now mother hen is calling us back in for the “serious” stuff…classes. Oh yeah…and graduation.

As I ponder the eight months of winter session I’ve experienced during my four years at UD (yes, you read that right), I fall back into that all-too-familiar notion that I hope I didn’t waste it, especially because this is probably the last time I’ll ever be able to say I’m on a two month vacation (cue the graduation jitters).

We all know what awaits us when we return to campus: “What did you do over winter session?” You now have exactly 15 seconds to explain how you did NOT waste your time, maybe throw in something meaningful or fun in there, too, so they don’t think you’re boring and just worked the whole time. Want to practice? After the first year of totally getting this wrong, sitting and twirling my thumbs for two months at home, I started to get the hang of this make-the-most-of-your-time thing, and how to look back and remember the highlights.

So here’s my advice.

1) It doesn’t have to be perfect.

Sure, there’s pressure to find that perfect internship that will lead to you getting hired by your dream company in your dream location doing the absolutely most fabulous job ever! But let’s be real, that doesn’t always happen (and that’s okay!). What’s important is that you get out there and obtain some experience. If you did that, give yourselves a big pat on the back. And if not, there’s always next year!

2) No experience will be worthless.

It doesn’t matter if it’s serving at your local restaurant, editing a school paper or interning at the big firm in NYC. If you have an open mind and a creative eagerness to learn, you will always grow. So you spent your winter session taking orders at a bagel shop, well that’s sure communication experience right there! You probably learned how to handle difficult customers, how to please large parties and how to solve problems as they arise. If you can articulate what you learned from your time, then it will be useful. Don’t be shy to use even the oddest experience as just that…experience! It could even help you stand out in a crowd of resumes.

3) Winter Session is never actually wasted.

Though I’d be the first to admit I was not so great at utilizing my time freshman year, I wouldn’t call that time wasted. I learned that breaks are only good for so long. The first few weeks of sleeping late, watching movies and baking constantly were great, but then it faded. I learned that it is important to be working toward something, to have a goal, even if it’s simply trying to make one person smile each day. And finally, I learned that I didn’t want to “waste” winter session ever again – and I haven’t.

4) Don’t forget to have fun.

I know this is valuable time. People are always going to be drilling the fact that it’s prime-time for internships or fellowships or shadowing, blah, blah, blah. Yes, they’re right, but don’t forget: it’s called a BREAK for a reason! We can’t be expected to sit around and work all the time, can we? Take some time for yourself, explore a new place, make some friends, try to positively impact someone’s day – everyday. It just might give you a new outlook on life and help you to understand the world from someone else’s point of view.

So I guess they’re right, I won’t have a two-month break after graduation (unless I don’t find a job…oh boy), but if we each make an effort to experience all that winter session can be, we’ll have incredible experiences and memories to draw back on for the rest of our lives.

By: Rachel Thompson

Rachel Thompson is a senior with a double major in Mass Communications and Political Science and a minor in History. She is also a part of the Honors program. In addition to her involvement in PRSSA-UD, Rachel is a leader in the Baptist Student Ministry on campus. She is currently completing an internship in marketing and public relations with the Ocean Pines Association in Ocean Pines, Maryland.

#UDPRintern: The 5 Dos and Don’ts of an Interview

Winter break is the perfect time to get ahead in advancing your career by searching for a summer internship. It’s the time to reach out to all those obscure family friends in your industry of choice for references, scour the internet and to tweak your resume. Once all the applications are sent, the next step is an interview. Here are a few tips to make sure it goes as smoothly as possible.

1. DO bring a copy of your resume. 

This may seem like a no brainer but it is still a must: even if you have already sent the company a copy, you want to make sure you look prepared.

2. DON’T ask the obvious questions. 

Your interviewer will be very unimpressed if you haven’t done your research on the basics of the company. If you ask questions showing you have no clue what the internship will entail, you may come off as not being so interested or motivated to obtain the position.

3. DO ask questions that require thought. 

Before the interview, try to brainstorm specific questions to ask the interviewer that show how seriously you are considering the position. For example, “What have people who previously held the position gone on to do?” or “What do you look for in your ideal candidate?”

4. DON’T speak in clichés or be too vague.

You want to stand out among the other people being interviewed and if you only say generic responses, you will not be memorable. Instead, try speaking about your specific interests and thoughts and avoid just spitting out exactly what you think they want to hear.

5. DO take a deep breath and relax!

While interviews can be stressful, it is important to show the interviewer that you are confident in your abilities and in yourself.

The reality is, you won’t get an offer for every position you interview for. However, by keeping these tips in mind and going in with a smile and firm handshake, you will gain valuable experience about the art of the interview.

By: Amanda Schuman

Amanda is a sophomore communications major with minors in advertising and interactive media. Besides her involvement in PRSSA-UD, Amanda is a member of the PR team for UDress and was recently elected the public relations/communications chair of IsraelU. You can follow her on twitter: @apschuman.

#UDPRIntern: Double Duty: How to Work Two Internships

Tabs, to-do lists, and timesheets—oh my! This winter, I took on two internships—one at The Journey church and one at UpTrend Creative & Consulting. Fun? Absolutely. Crazy? For sure.

As per usual, I accepted a hefty workload without realizing its weight. However, the lessons learned and the skills acquired are far worth the frantic and frazzled hours I spent flipping between multiple assignments. As Olivia Pope would say, I have it #handled. Kind of.

If you choose to wear multiple intern hats, here are a few of my tips:

  1. Set boundaries

When you accept one job, you need to set boundaries. When you accept two, you seriously need to set boundaries. How many hours can you work? What deadlines are realistic for you? When can you come into the office? If need be, will you drive in the snow or bad weather? What hours will you be online? How much is too much? You need to think through all of these questions and communicate your limits before you even begin. Remember—you are a human, not a robot. Your boss will understand.

  1. Stick to those boundaries

Remember those boundaries you set before you laura1entered the office? Did you make exceptions to your nonnegotiable rules? I often catch myself caving into requests that are not realistic for me. I will set a deadline that is not comfortably feasible. I will take on more work than I can manage within a certain time frame. I make mistakes and start blurring my boundaries—it happens. Sometimes, we have to make exceptions to get a time-sensitive task completed…but this should not be happening on a daily basis. Be realistic, and respect yourself and your time.

  1. Unwind

Whatever you do, do not forget about this step. You have to rest. You have to breathe. You have to have fun. When I am home, I split my time between catching up with friends and family, binge-watching Netflix and reading some inspirational books. Everyone needs to recharge his or her battery. You and I are no exception. Settle down, get plenty of sleep, and maximize your down time. Your mind, body and spirit will thank you.

Working double duty can double the fun and double the development—just make sure you double your balancing efforts. Happy interning!

By: Laura Hepp

journey2Laura Hepp is a junior mass communication major with minors in advertising and theatre performance studies. Aside from interning at The Journey and performing in various musical theatre productions, Laura loves running, laughing, and eating far too many vegetables. She serves as Vice President of Professional Development for PRSSA-UD.

#UDPRIntern: The 30-Minute Email Method: Why It’s Long and Why It’s Worth It

4:00- I sit down to write my email, telling myself it will only take 10 minutes.

4:30- Still sitting, having my best friend look over the email for the 20th time, and calming myself down enough to send the thing out into cyberspace. paxton2

Some people call me crazy for taking 30 minutes to write an email. I prefer careful over crazy. I have a right to be cautious; emails are a simultaneous reflection of your written communication skills and your personality. Through my emails, I want to convey professional decorum while still maintaining a positive attitude at all times.

Here are some tips for writing your next email explaining why not a minute of that half hour I take to write just three short paragraphs is worthless:

  1. Make your subject line stand out. The subject line serves as an attention grabber- it’s what gets the reader to open the actual email. If people don’t think an email is worth their valuable time based on the subject of it’s content, they will delete it before even giving it a chance. So make your subject line original and engaging, but also keep it concise. No one wants to read a long subject line- or a long email (see Tip 4).

TIME: 5 MINUTES

  1. Decide on the perfect greeting. Depending on the person you are contacting, there are different rules for greeting someone in an email. If the email regarding a job or internship position, say “To (insert name here)” to maintain formality. Sending an informal networking email? Say “Hi (insert name here)” to immediately set the email’s friendly, conversational tone. If you are writing to a professor, simply put the professor’s name, conveying to your teacher a sense of business and purpose.

TIME: 5 MINUTES

  1. In the body, insert meaningful details. People can tell when an email feels formulaic. Mentioning specific details makes an email personalized and shows a desire to connect with your audience. You want your reader to know that you care about what’s important to them, whether it be their company or their class. This may require some research, but it will go a long way towards conveying your strong work ethic and determination to stand out.

TIME: 10 MINUTES

But while you should include details…paxton1

  1. Keep your content concise. Just like the college students writing to them, professionals are busy people. They don’t have time to read lengthy proclamations of love for a company or the many reasons why a grade should be changed. Get to the point while still making it meaningful, and you stand a much better chance of your email actually being read.

TIME: 5 MINUTES

  1. Read your email aloud- but not just to yourself. After all of the researching and editing is done, read your words aloud. Reading aloud forces you to concentrate on what your writing, making it easier to spot typos and determine whether or not words flow together. The goal is to sound like you would in normal conversational; the closer to what you would say when verbally communicating, the better. Make sure to get a second opinion about your word choices by reading your work to a friend. He/she can tell you when something sounds awkward rather than brilliant, providing valuable constructive criticism.

TIME: 5 MINUTES

I understand that this method is time-consuming. There are a hundred other things I could spend my time doing in that half an hour I use to write three paragraphs. But I know that after spending those 30 minutes on tweaking and perfecting my work, I’m not sending just any ordinary email. I’m sending a written masterpiece catered to my audience reflecting the kind of professional I want to be.

So get ready to showcase your killer personality and your excellent written communication skills. All it takes is 30 minutes and the courage to press “Send.”

By: Paxton Mittleman

Paxton Mittleman is a sophomore communication interest and English double major who is passionate about public relations and social media marketing.  When she’s not attending PRSSA meetings, Paxton is tweeting from her @BlueHenPaxton Social Media Ambassador account, volunteering with the sisters of Gamma Sigma Sigma, or planning events as a Senior Fellow for the UD Honors Program.

#UDPRIntern: …But Can You Talk the Talk?

As a college student, the term “networking” is far from a foreign concept. Students are regularly told how networking can positively impact their future. However, for many people, networking can seem like a confusing or even frightening task. This is where “casual networking” comes in handy.

Casual networking is no more than maximizing conversations with everyone you communicate with. Once a conversation gets into full swing, it is easy to learn a lot about the person you are talking to, and vise versa. Here are a few easy tips to casual networking.

1. Be Yourself- The goal of casual networking is to develop contacts and connections to further one’s life, and career. Spreading fallacies about one’s accomplishments will only be detrimental in the long run.

2. Never make assumptions- Always be open minded about talking to someone because you never know how a person can change your life!

3. Keep it light- Due to the fact that casual networking can happen in any situation, it is important to speak lightly and conversationally. In doing this, one can further exhibit his/her own charisma while still offering up information about work experience and interests.

4. Ask questions- Asking questions can further develop a conversation, while still keeping it on a personal level. Questions also show the other person that you are interested in talking to them.

5. Follow up- Do not be afraid to follow up on any offer or information you are given. It never hurts to try.

A likeable personality can be just as powerful as a high GPA, if used correctly.

Resource: http://www.advancedresources.com/blog/unusual-places-network-tips-casual-networking

By: Morgan Pudimott

Morgan Pudimott is a freshman Communication Interest with a minor in advertising. She is passionate about the field of Public Relations. Morgan plans to continue to become more involved in the blog, and PRSSA itself.

Four Ways to Get the Most of Your Summer Internship

The weeks left until the start of another semester dwindled down to just three, and if you’re like me, you still have part of that time left at your summer internship. In that amount of time, you can tackle a big project or meet an Executive who offers to look over your work. I know I plan to take on as many assignments as possible until my last day.

With all the professional development opportunities awaiting you, it may seem hard to narrow it down to just a few. Look at these four ways to get the most out of your summer internship and see just how much you can achieve in three weeks!

  1. Ask Questions

The longer you intern for a company, the better you can understand which of your co-workers work in positions you hope to one day. Ask them to lunch, walk with them on the way into work in the morning, or grab a coffee date and ask them any question you have. Once you’re with them, ask as many questions as you can. Most of the time professionals are happy to help an intern learn more about their industry or must have skills. I found a recent graduate at my internship who worked in the department I liked the most. We grabbed lunch one day and I learned more about her day to day work activities than I would have as an intern in another department.

  1. Learn a new skill.

Every internship experience is different, so take the time to learn a new skill during your last few weeks there. If you focus on transferable skills, you can transfer what you learned to your next internship or even job. I developed my leadership skills by taking on the lead of a project. I received the chance to delegate tasks to my peers, problem solve, and effectively manage a team. All of those skills can be transferred to a future position, each with an example I can communicate in an interview. Expanding your skill set will help you continue to set yourself apart from other qualified candidates.

  1. Network with your peers.

If you work with other interns, it’s important to network with them; you could run into them again in the future. Take the time to talk to them during your lunch break or on the way out of the office at night. Employers notice you taking the time to build a relationship with your coworkers, showing you’re a team player. I’m lucky enough to work with 8 other interns, and I spend a lot of time getting to know them and their varied skills at work. These connections will be useful slow day with no projects, but will also allow me to meet some of the people I could be working with again when I graduate. It’s important to know the people working in your industry and to look to them for support or advice. You also get a better understanding for your competition when applying for jobs.

  1. Get as many samples for your portfolio as possible.

Your work portfolio showcases your skills to future employers and can be filled with samples from work or independent projects. Samples from projects you worked on at your internship, however, really stand out. Use these next few weeks to draft as many samples for your portfolio as possible. My portfolio is filled with press releases, articles, and event materials, some of which were used by my Supervisor for actual projects. In these upcoming days I’ll be looking for any chance to write a press release, article, or to be included on a project where I can produce tangible work. Taking on a chance to work, no matter how small, shows your initiative to learn as well.

By: Betsey Coulbourn

Betsey is a senior Political Science major with a triple minor in journalism, political communication, and Islamic studies. She currently serves as Historian for PRSSA-UD for the 2014-2015 academic year. In addition to being on the PRSSA-UD executive board, she is a Field Organizer with the Delaware Democratic Party and a member of Active Minds. Connect with her on Twitter @betC__.