Summer Internship Provides Great Experience

For much of the school year last year I was like most students trying to find an internship. I waited until the end to start looking and wasn’t very intrigued with anything I came across. I started to think that maybe what I needed was one more summer of fun, being a camp counselor, after all I had just finished my sophomore year and had plenty of time to gain experience, right? I still occasionally sent out resumes to companies I thought looked interesting through the Pomerantz Career Center’s Employment Expo, but never really expected anything to come from it.

It was a Friday afternoon and I had just got home from my job at the UI Hospitals and Clinics when my phone rang from an unfamiliar number. I did recognize the area code as being from around my hometown, so I answered. Little did I know this phone call would lead to the most exciting and challenging summer job I have ever had. The voice on the other line was Patti Freko, the Director of Communications for Feldco Windows, Siding and Doors (a well known company in Chicago). She had received my resume and was interested in scheduling a phone interview with me. After talking to her, we then scheduled a time for me to come in and interview in person, as well as tour the facility. Throughout my time at Feldco during the interview, I became more and more excited about the possibilities that were being explained to me.

I went from being not really sure what to think, to being extremely excited and nervous about waiting and seeing if this amazing opportunity was being handed my way. Eventually, a week later, I got the phone call I’ve been waiting for. I had been selected for this internship.

Summer came closer and closer, and suddenly it was time to start my first day. It was a little intimidating at first, but I quickly became very close to the two other people in my office, the Marketing Assistant, Magali and the graphic design intern, Katie. It was nice to have two people close to my age in the same office. Never once did I feel like it was a chore to go into work, and I absolutely loved every minute of it.

I traveled to Indianapolis and Madison, for business purposes and got the chance to really show off my skills, by getting newspaper placements, articles and press releases picked up by various news sources. Feldco didn’t have a Public Relations department before I came, which made it a very challenging, but fulfilling task.  I also worked on sponsorships, events that would help get our name out there, and various aspects of media buying.

I will forever be grateful for the experience I received, as well as the relationships I acquired. It was the best summer job I have ever had, and made my career goals a little more clear. I recommend a summer internship to anyone, and if anyone needs help finding one or has any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.

Natalie Dubs

PRSSA Communications Director 2009-2010

Spring agency tour a valuable opportunity

On Friday April 10, more than 20 of UI’s PRSSA members descended upon Chicago for a day of invaluable learning and guidance from some of the PR industry’s top agencies.  Although we are lucky to gain useful insight from an industry professional every other Wednesday evening at our regular meetings, the experience of actually visiting an office and being able to chat with the person to whom we may be applying for a job someday is an exceptional opportunity.  The following advice is composed of notes I jotted down while listening to professionals at Fleishman-Hillard and Ketchum.

At Fleishman-Hillard, Account Supervisor Kate Murphy, one of the University of Iowa’s own, shared five tips for getting in the door:

1)     Know your competition—think about the other candidates who will be applying for the same job as you and find a way to stand out from the crowd.
2)    Highlight transferrable skills—writing, researching, media experience.  If you’ve done it, make sure your potential employer knows that you have a strong knowledge of these highly versatile skills.
3)    Demonstrate hands-on experience—again, if you’ve had experience that will be useful in your new job, don’t be shy about letting your future employer know.
4)    PROOFREAD—all application materials should be proofread; get a second, and even a third, opinion.
5)    Be prepared to present yourself in person— do plenty of research on the organization beforehand and when you show up for an interview be enthusiastic, curious, and prepared to ask informed questions.

Later in the day, PRSSA paid a visit to Ketchum.  As anyone who has ever applied for a job knows, organizational skills are key.  The insight of Account Supervisor Abby Berg-Hammond taught PRSSA that while anyone can say they are organized, here is how you can show it:

1)    After you’ve landed your interview, confirm the date and time for it anywhere from one week to two days ahead of time.
2)    Arrive early for your interview.
3)    Be sure to bring professional copies of your resume, portfolio and any other application materials.  If possible, bring a copy of these materials that you can leave with the organization; otherwise, kindly explain that you need to take it with you.
4)    Send a thoughtful follow-up note after your interview.

Follow the above tips and you may be well on your way to landing that dream job or internship!

— Kelly Trettin