Opportunities in Disguise

By: Erica Sturwold
UI PRSSA President

You need to jump.  No, you need to leap. Yes, leap, at any, and every, internship opening that presents itself on your path through college.  Experience, even if unrelated, uninteresting and unpaid, is still experience; even when a prospect seems to have very little to do with your desired field, it doesn’t mean it should be ruled out.

If your chosen path is in public relations and something like an opportunity to do design work for a university magazine may not seem to have much relevance, does that mean you turn it down? The answer is definitely, “no”.

In the past I’ve sold advertising for two different radio stations, and though I was apprehensive to be involved in sales (for fear I did not possess the skills to smooth-talk), I found the jobs were nothing short of confidence and character builders. Not to mention, they were actually more about listening, than speaking.  When I bring up these experiences in interviews, I find employers are pleasantly surprised with my willingness to work a job where rejection is around every corner and perseverance is key—this somehow has a way of proving my work ethic.

These types of experiences are the ones that set you apart, and, more importantly, mold you into your own brand. Though your past jobs and internships may not all have been for major marketing agencies and professional event planning firms, the other portion, made up of somewhat out-of-the-ordinary experiences, is a very important piece of your background—what makes you “well-rounded” and “cultured”.

Though I can gladly say I have now had two very multidimensional strategic-communication internships, I know I got there by my ability to be open for whatever comes my way. Before these, and aside from the radio stations, I have written for a magazine, done publication design work, organized and programmed an entire office’s files and recently wrote for and edited a summer newsletter.

One good thing to keep in mind is that while certain positions you pick up may not be exactly what you want to be doing now, they can lead you to something, or someone, who can take you where you want to go.

A simple trick I have learned to find new opportunities is to take the initiative to be friendlier with teachers, and more importantly, internship advisors.  These are the people who, if they know you, will set aside prospects they know you will be perfect for you when those prospects come along.

Aside from this, open every email, read every University posting and keep your eyes peeled for any job-opening posters in your class buildings—even if the extra work feels hard to squeeze in your schedule, it usually has a way of fitting itself in and paying off big time in the long run.

Maybe the chance to lead freshmen on tours around campus is what you consider to be a resume-filler, but, to right employer it could prove both your leadership abilities, and, your inclination to leap into any possible role.

Five Things I Learned About Life from My Internship

 By Emily Messerly, PRSSA member

I recently blogged about my amazing internship in Washington D.C. The skills I gained will surely benefit me in my career, but I had no idea how much the opportunity would benefit me in other aspects of my future. Here are five things I learned that helped turn my internship into a growth experience that helped me find the direction I wanted to take not only my career, but my life.

1)    The Things That Matter to Me-I will never forget sitting outside with my friend, looking out at the nation’s capital, and suddenly realizing what I wanted out of life. I wanted to move to ‘the big city’ when I graduated and start my life there. I knew I wanted to get married someday, but not until later in my life. I realized how important my career was to me, and even if I married a millionaire, I would always want to work. Internships are supposed to help you figure out your career path, but they can also help you realize your long-term goals in life.

2)    Put Things Into Perspective-In college, it can be easy to get preoccupied with petty things, such as drama with your friends, but internships give you your first taste in the real world and can help you to see what counts. I was able to work on projects that contributed to major policy decisions, and in turn, got an opportunity to see the big picture in life.

3)    It’s Never Too Late-When I applied for my internship, my empty resume made me realize I was just going through the motions. I was in no activities, had done no volunteer work, and had spent much of college just getting by. I felt like I was too far into school to get involved in extracurriculars, but one of my coworkers helped me realize that there’s no time like the present. It’s never too late to make a change, especially if it’s a positive one.

4)    The Importance of Seeing the World-D.C. was unlike any place I had ever been before, and it made me realize that there was so much in the world that I wanted to see. If there was only one recommendation I could make, it would be to intern somewhere completely different from where you are now. It can change your view of the world and inspire you to no end.

5)    Don’t Wish Your Life Away-I’m sure we’ve all said at some point how excited we’ll be when we graduate. However, my internship taught me it’s important not to wish your life away, because college goes pretty fast. My internship challenged me not to keep looking at the clock and waiting for the next day to begin. Enjoy what you have today, and don’t count down the hours, be it the next day or the next chapter of your life.


Follow Emily on Twitter! @emilymesserly

Tips to land and maintain your first internship.

Be Prepared

Come prepared with knowledge and questions about the company or organization.

Having no questions at all looks like you are not interested in the company, and may also seem like you are not interesting yourself!

Asking the wrong question makes you look unprepared. For example, never ask “What does this company do.” This should already be clear to you, since you should have done research!

Stand Out

Show your unique abilities and qualifications.

Not everyone will have the same information on their resume. So showcase what will stand out to an employer.

Be Confident

No one knows what to expect for the interview or for the first day of an internship.

So have an open mind, be prepared for anything, and be open to perform any task asked of you.

Don’t limit your work to one person. You may be hired by one individual, but don’t pass up opportunities to learn from other people who work in the same area as you. Who knows you may learn something truly valuable!


You will be given a rundown of what your daily tasks will be and how work is conducted in that particular company. You should only have to be explained this once. So if you need to, take notes and write it down. You don’t want to become known as the undependable intern!

Make sure you understand what your tasks are. If you have questions, ask them! Then you won’t need to verify things later to make sure you performed the task correctly.

Stay Organized

Don’t let the daily tasks bury you. Learn to multitask, and work on your feet!

Make a list of tasks that need to be completely daily.

Make a media guide to stay on top of things. Compile a list of all of the news sources you send releases and other news briefs to. This list should consist of addresses, email addresses, phone numbers and any other special instructions. This will come in handy when it comes time to send out releases, as you will have all of the information in one location.

If you are working on multiple tasks at a time it may be beneficial to make a release calendar. This would keep you on track for when things should be completed and released by.

Enjoy Your Experience

Internships are a once and a lifetime event. No two people will ever have the same internship experience. Everyone will bring something into an internship and they will leave with something as well.

Above everything else, live in the moment and learn as much as possible. You were given an opportunity to show your skills, so work hard and improve as much as you can!

–By Megan McIntyre

Practical Advice from Monica Madura

At our October 28th Chapter meeting, Monica Madura, the Communication Studies Academic Advisor, came to speak.  Monica geared her presentation towards job searching and how to prepare oneself for the “real world.”  She also offered a valuable question and answer session where members got their most burning questions answered.

Monica suggested that the earlier we start looking for jobs and internships, the better.  Not only can you utilize the Pomerantz Career Center’s Employment Expo and Career Shift, but look on the Communication Studies webpage and utilize your network.  Some ways to get your network started can range from attending Chamber of Commerce events to talking with your professors here at the University of Iowa.

Once you find a job or internship that you are interested in, Monica talked about the importance of customizing our resumes and cover letters for the specific position.  It’s a great idea to make a “master resume” where you list everything you have done.  Then once you look at the job description or requirements you can cut and paste on a new document what is most relevant to that job.

The take away message from our speaker was to start job-hunting early, customize your resume, and utilize the resources we have at our fingertips here at the University!

By Shannon Kane

Trying to find internships this spring or summer?

On Tuesday, October 20, 2009, I attended a small class led by Amy A’Hearn the communications career advisor. When I say small, I mean small. It was a class size of three people including myself and it was wonderful. The class was all about how to find an internship whether it be for the spring, summer, or fall. She started off the class by asking what our priorities were, what did we want out of the internship? What was important to us, location, paid/unpaid, work environment, work hours, etc? She said the key to finding an internship was first figuring out what you, yourself wanted out of one.

Next, she showed us the Pomerantz Career Center’s website (www.careers.uiowa.edu) and located the Career Guide button which brought up a number of sample resumes, cover letters, letters of inquiry, etc. A’Hearn urged us to look at each of these to begin writing and then advised us to go to walk-in hours at the PCC. During walk-in hours, students can have their resumes reviewed by a peer advisor who will be sure to provide them with tips to improve their resume.

To actually find internships, A’Hearn showed us the Expo website on the PCC’s webpage. This site is used to find jobs and internships with companies who are affiliated with the University of Iowa. The easiest ways to look for jobs is to first log-in, then click on the Jobs button, then Search. A’Hearn said to use the “Major Seeking” button which allows for a wider search of jobs within your major that you may have never considered before. Also, for the “Type” you should select Internships. Then click “Search” and a whole skew of internships appear on the page. Expo also has you upload your resume to the site, so if you do find an internship that interests you, all you have to do is click Apply and your resume is already there. I should mention that Expo does have a one-time fee of $32, but that you can use the site all through college and even after.

Also, on the Expo site is a tab labeled ICE-NET, which is an awesome tool! It has alumni from the University of Iowa who put their job information on the website and then you can look them up and ask them about their current jobs. This is a great tool because it allows you to have an informational interview which is when you get to ask people about their job and find out how they got there. Also, the PCC has a whole page on how to go about have an informational interview, A’Hearn stressed that this was a good way to get to know what a specific job was actually like.

The final piece of advice from A’Hearn was that everyone should start a LinkedIn account! This is like Facebook for big people, the real deal. This is a site where you can upload your resume and talk about all the things you are great at (what could be better!). Just make sure your LinkedIn page is professional!

Hope this helps & Best of luck!

Melissa Rasper—Historian/Alumni Relations