Tuesday, November 30, 2010

5 ways to maximize your internship experience

So you've been working diligently as a student. You've fought your way onto the Dean's List but after all the hard work do you feel adequately prepared for a full time job?

Internships are often more valuable than your entire undergraduate course work. They provide you with real life experiences in a professional environment. Going to class is vastly different from working in an office. Over the summer, I had three internships that kept me very busy, but it was very rewarding. I interned for United Way, The American Red Cross and the National Council for Negro Women.

My experience as an intern taught me that an undergraduate degree will not completely prepare you for an entry-level position. Throughout our educational career we have be told how to do everything. Teachers tell us exactly how long our assignments should be, they tell us how to format assignments, they tell us when to turn it in (even though they will accept it late), and they even tell us what type of content the assignment should contain. This type of direction is unrealistic and does not prepare us for a full time job.

An internship is only as valuable as the intern is. Here are some tips to help you make the most out of your internship.

1. Dress the part.

Observe the way people are dressed during your interview. Most likely, the dress code is business casual but each office has its own definition of business casual. Of the three internships I had this past summer, each of them had different extensions of business casual attire.

2. Don't be afraid to ask questions.

Asking questions is intimidating because you're admitting to not knowing something. However, it's better to ask questions and complete the task correctly than to wing it and do it wrong. An internship is a professional learning experience and your employer should recognize that. Asking questions show that you know how to gather information before making a decision. With that in mind, try to avoid asking questions that you can get the answer to. It's just lazy.

3. You are a part of the team, know your worth.

You are an intern because of your skills, don't hesitate to use them. Know your skills and realize the skills you need to improve. You may possess some skills that the company will benefit from. Who knows, they may even offer you a job position!

4. Build relationships.

This is not a jail sentence so why be glued to your work station? Talk to people and ask questions. Act as if you're interested in working there...hint hint. Ask questions like, "What do you enjoy most about working here?" or "Are days usually this busy?" People take notice to those types of things.

5. Be creative.

Channel your creative side to develop original and interesting ideas. This is the time to try things that you couldn't do in the classroom. If you crash and burn just pick of the ashes and throw them out! A mistake is another word for learning experience; it just has a negative connotation. Everyone makes mistakes, it's how you recover from them that shapes you. So don't be afraid to take risks!

Starting an internship is nerve racking but don't let your nerves overpower you. Hopefully, you can land a job position! Make the most out of this experience and remember you will need your boss for recommendations!

God Bless

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Is graduate school for you?

School requires many hours of studying, students are involved in extracurricular activities, and we try to maintain a social life. Most of us have been in school for the majority of our life, so why would you want to pursue a graduate degree? A graduate degree can make you a better candidate for a job position and show your expertise in an area of study. However, graduate school is not for everyone.

Deciding on whether or not you want to go to graduate school can be stressful. You have to take the GRE, research graduate programs, find funding, find a location and the list goes on. I spent a few months researching graduate programs and I found that there are a few things to consider before choosing to attend graduate school.

1. Do you need graduate school in your field?
Ask yourself, "How will this help me?" Not everyone needs a graduate degree. Some industries prefer work experience over education. If this is the case, it may be better to get work experience under your belt then go back to graduate school after a couple of years. Maybe your employer will pay for your education!

2. Are you eligible for assistantships and fellowships?
The days of stressing over your bursar bills are over! If you are going get your Master's degree you should NOT be paying for it. There are so many graduate programs that WILL PAY YOU to go to school. You can get your tuition and fees funded and also receive a monthly stipend to cover your living expenses. You will not be rich but you will not be paying for school.

3. Do you know what you want to study?
Research your industry to see what areas of study are required for jobs. If you studied public relations for your undergraduate degree, maybe you should study something that will complement your existing degree such as, environmental studies. All too often, students go to graduate school because they're comfortable with going to school. While that is understandable, you don't want to rush to attend graduate school. Make sure your decision well thought out. There's nothing worse than a wasted degree.

4. Is it a good graduate program?
People spend a lot of time on making their program sound good but is it actually worth your time? During your research, call and talk to professors at in the department you're interested in. Ask questions such as, "What do students do after receiving their degrees?" Ask about job placement services, department awards and recognitions, and funding opportunities.

Is it a research program or a practical program? Research programs are good for students who are interested in obtaining a PhD or teaching. Practical programs prepare you for the working world. Research the teachers to see what they've studied and their interests. You will be working very closely with the instructors so it's important that you know their area of expertise.

Some times a graduate degree is great for upward mobility within a company, therefore the degree may not be useful for years down the road. For some people this is okay but not for others. The most important thing when deciding on going to graduate school is RESEARCH, RESEARCH, and RESEARCH!! A graduate degree is only useful if you choose the correct option. Graduate school will always be there so make wise decisions!

God Bless!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Video transforming the pr and journalism industries?

So what does video have to do with pr and journalism? Everything! As you know, we are moving into a digital world, so it's important to learn video editing to benefit an organization. Editing videos takes hours, it isn't easy but it's worth it. With a video you can highlight the benefits to your organization, document a client's testimony, record employees doing volunteer work and so many other things. All of these types of videos can be placed on YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, Twitter, Blogger and the list goes on.

I sat through a two hour session on how to use Final Cut Pro, which is a popular software used to edit videos, and I felt overwhelmed, but it made me realize the power of videos. Do you remember the "Ouch Charlie" video? It was posted three years ago and now has over 240 million views! How about the "A Day at the Office" video. It was posted a year ago and now has over 1 million views. Although these aren't traditional news videos, this trend points to the power of video.

It's important to be creative when developing ideas for videos. The video must be short and captivate the viewers' attention immediately. Sounds familiar huh? That's because many of the skills you apply to pr and journalism also apply to video producing.

The video below is a simple video outlining pr tips. It was posted a year ago and now has over 8,000 views. Although it does not have the same response rate as the viral videos, the company is promoting itself and the profession.

Videos like these can be used to promote your organization and knowing how to do so will capitalize on your pr campaigns and news stories. Chances are you're going to have to work with video anyway, so take advantage of the time you have to develop your skills. You can take classes on how to operate cameras and software. You do not need to be an expert however, the more you know the better your video will be.

God Bless