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