How to Take a Break and Get Ahead: Winter Session Recap

Overwhelmed with the amount of free time on your hands during the lengthy winter vacations we get here at UD? To those opposed to kicking back by the cozy fire, there’s actually a lot that can be accomplished in just two short months.

I, personally, couldn’t let the opportunity of UD’s winter session pass me by. Whether you’re trying to get ahead, boost your GPA, or coordinate for a double major, taking winter classes is an extremely beneficial thing to do. If you still want to be in the comfort of your own home over the winter months, then why not take online classes? UD allows students to register up to 7 credits during the winter session. I filled my schedule solely with online courses.

Online classes are designed to appeal to a mallorymdiverse range of learners. This is largely due to the fact that they are generally self-paced. I’ve always been more of an impatient, fast-paced learner and taking online classes allows me to work as far ahead as I can. I took a one-credit communications elective this past winter in which I completed all of the course material within the first week. If you’re on the other end of the spectrum, online classes can also allow you to take your time more so than you might be able to when attending an actual lecture.

Enrolling in UD Winter online gave me more flexibility in my schedule to return to my seasonal retail positions at the Tanger Outlets in Rehoboth Beach, DE. I worked as a sales associate at Harstrings Kids Clothing and a Brand Representative at Justice For Girls. Whether it’s greeting customers at the door, ringing them up at the cashwrap, or assisting them on the floor, both of these positions have helped me enhance my communications and PR skills by promoting both merchandise and sales.

It just so happened that while I was working at Justice this past winter, they were undergoing renovation. We had to ship out thousands of units of merchandise to stores across the U.S. to make room for construction. I obtained experience communicating with sales girls across the country about which types of merchandise would be most beneficial to their stores. I also obtained experience communicating with girls at my location on how to coordinate with the temporary and tight space that we had. I’ll be eagerly returning this spring to see our final product.

Returning to campus after Winter Session didn’t feel like I was just getting off of vacation and that’s great because that’s not what I was going for. I felt accomplished.

By: Mallory Metzner

Mallory Metzner is a freshman communication interest and fashion merchandising double major with minors in journalism, business administration and Spanish. She currently serves as a competitive member of the UD intercollegiate figure skating team, learn-to-skate teacher at the UD Fred Rust Ice Arena, crew member of the Student TV Network 49 News, writer for the UDRESS fashion magazine, public relations team member for UDRESS, and a general member for PRSSA-UD. Follow her on Twitter, @MaleePaytatweet.

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#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!

#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: …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.

#UDPRIntern: Learning over the long-haul: How to grasp new opportunities at a long-term internship

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Let’s face it—as ambitious communication students, we plow through internships with a “what’s next” mentality. We want something bigger, better and more boast worthy to add to our resumes once we conclude our current internship. I get it. But what if we decide to stay right where we are? Does this derail our practically perfect resume?

I have spent the last year working as the Communication & Development Intern at The Journey, a rapidly growing nondenominational church in Newark, Del. I originally signed on for a five-week winter internship…but life had something else in store for me. I ended up staying, all because I loved what I was doing and who I was doing it with.

Over the past year, I found that professional development only flourishes when you plant roots in some great soil. Here’s how you can stay fresh and fruitful at a long-term internship:

1. Overachieve on and off the job

Go above and beyond to learn about your industry. Listen to pod-casts on your way to work, follow key influencers on social media, skim through articles and blog posts from industry innovators and read books about leadership. Uncover potential opportunities, and then go after them!

2. Connect with your coworkers

Stop hiding in your cubicle. Seriously. Do not allow those three walls to imprison you and your success. Start talking to others in the office and ask them about how their days are going. Ask them about their jobs. Ask them how you can help. Just start asking—new and exciting projects (and connections) could start coming your way. Hello, networking.

3. Ask for feedback

Build a relationship with your manager and start regularly asking for honest feedback. It might not feel great or it might even sting at times, but this is essential to sharpening your skills and growing as a person and professional. You can’t improve if you don’t know where to start.

Best of luck with your internship endeavors, and remember: it’s not about checking a box; it’s about soaking in the experience.

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: 4 Easy Ways to Make The Most of Winter Session

Winter Session at the University of Delaware (also known as #UDWinter) is a great way to get ahead of the game. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you have to take a class. The most important part of Winter Session is making the most out of your time, whichever way you choose to spend it.

Here are four major Winter Session paths to choose from:

  1. Take Classes

Aside from the obvious, being a student at the University of Delaware is extremely advantageous to one’s overall success, due to Winter Session. As students, we are given an opportunity to earn up to seven credits while on winter break. These credits can abate the course load for the coming semester, or help to ensure that one graduates on time or even early.

  1. Study Abroad

A traditional study abroad excursion puts one away from his/her home for as long as four months. While this is bearable for some, many students find this to be too overbearing. Lucky for students at the University of Delaware, there is an option to study abroad for one month during its winter session. Additionally, students are still offered a broad range of destinations during this time.

  1. Intern

Whether it is through the University of Delaware or an independent opportunity, finding an internship for Winter Session is an extremely productive use of one’s time. Due to the fact that UD’s Winter Session is two months, companies are more inclined to hire a student who can be there for a longer duration. Even still, during this time period, students can network and prove their abilities in order to attain a summer internship, as well.

  1. Self-improve

For some students, Winter Session is a time for utmost relaxation instead of being completely focused on schoolwork. Winter Session is a great time to give one’s brain a little detox; however, there are many productive activities that do not come with stressful baggage! Working a part-time job, improving one’s overall fitness, volunteering or participating in resume building activities are all great ways to have a dynamic, yet peaceful, Winter Session.

Whatever you choose to do this Winter Session, there is a way to make the most out of it!

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.