Should interns be required to fetch coffee?

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Sep 14, 2009 in Internships

I just read, “The new Gen Y employee refused to get coffee!

It makes me wonder what Gen Y public relations interns think about this. Feel free to comment anonymously if you’d like, but I’m really curious. Do you think it is OK? Or, is it unfair?

I have mixed feelings about it. As an intern, I expect to get less-than-glorious work on occassion. I don’t show up at an internship expecting to be counseling clients and pitching to CNN. Have I been asked to get coffee (or something similar)? Certainly.

But, in both cases the person asking me was nice and respectful about it. They didn’t act like it was my responsibility because I was the intern. In one case, it was lunch needed for a client meeting. In another case, it was for the students helping out with an outdoor commercial on a very chilly day. I didn’t mind at all.

But, I’m not sure how I would feel about being asked to fetch coffee daily because I was the intern. I don’t even drink coffee, so I don’t understand why people will wait in long lines to buy an overpriced coffee from Starbucks (just my opinion on Starbucks).

For me, it would depend on the internship experience. If I am learning a lot and growing my skills, I don’t think I would mind. If you are busy working most of the day, it’s kind of nice to step out of the office for a few.

But, if I were only given assignments such as fetching coffee, sorting mail and making copies, I might be disappointed in the internship experience.

What do you think as a Gen Y intern/employee? Or, what do you think as someone who manages Gen Y interns/employees?

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10 Things I’ve Learned During My First Month at an Agency

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Jun 16, 2009 in Fahlgren Mortine, Internships

I’ve been working at Fahlgren Mortine for a month now. Here are 10 simple things I’ve learned so far:

  1. Double check everything. And then check it again. Then, just to be sure, check one more time.
  2. Turn in work “client ready.” Make sure everything is in the right font, color and size. Check on text wrap and images.
  3. Someone is watching you…so be enthusiastic in everything you do and be memorable.
  4. Network.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
  6. Take extra opportunities (like going to that optional meeting that starts at 5:30 p.m.)
  7. Pay attention to company culture and politics.
  8. Jump at any opportunity to get experience.
  9. Don’t be afraid to come in early or stay late when needed.
  10. Realize you’ll probably make a few mistakes. Own up to them, learn your lesson and don’t obsess about it too much.

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Agency Life: Tracking Time

Posted by Rachel Esterline on May 28, 2009 in Career, Fahlgren Mortine, Internships

This is the first part in an ongoing series about working at an agency.

Even though it’s a very small part of working at an agency, tracking your time is very important.

For each task I do for every client, I must track how much time I spend working. I’ve discovered that this actually makes me more productive. At the end of the day, I have a quantifiable record of what I accomplished.

Tracking time also gives you a better idea on how long it takes to complete a particular kind of project.

Here are a three tips to make tracking time easier:

  1. Write down the start and stop time of each task you do. It’s not likely that you’ll be able to remember the times an hour or two later, let alone at the end of the day.
  2. When you complete the task, quickly calculate the amount of time you spent on the task. I hate doing a lot of math, so doing this saves me time and aggravation when it comes time to enter my hours in the program.
  3. When entering time and tasks into the program, highlight each task after you’ve entered it. This will keep you from entering it twice.

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How do you dress for Friday’s?

Posted by Rachel Esterline on May 22, 2009 in Career, Internships, Public Relations

I wore blue jeans to work today…

Now before you go off in a big lecture about how I should always dress professional and dressing unprofessional could kill my career, let me get to the details.

First of all, I think professionalism and how you are perceived in the workplace are very important. There are many things I would never wear to the office, such as a tube top or mini skirt (especially considering I don’t own any!).

I’m not a style diva, but I am a cautious shopper. I even go as far as trying to buy closed-toe heels because a conservative employer might see it as “too much” and avoiding too much pink so I don’t come off as one of those girls who have no brains (have you seen Legally Blonde?).

On my first day of my internship, I wore a black suit. The next day I wore dress slacks and a button-up. But then someone said they generally “wear jeans on Friday.”

What!? Jeans? In the workplace?

This morning I had a serious debate with myself about the situation.

Should I really wear blue jeans? Will I be judged as a “lazy Gen Y intern” or sloppy? Is it really acceptable?

After going back and forth, I put on a pair of dark jeans with a nice shirt. Driving into work, I kept second-guessing myself. Maybe I shouldn’t have worn jeans, I thought to myself.

I didn’t relax until I counted several others wearing jeans.

What do you think is most appropriate for an intern? Is it acceptable for an intern to dress casually when the other employees are? Should an intern always dress business professional, even if they are told jeans are acceptable?

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If you’re a PR intern, what are you doing right now?

Posted by Rachel Esterline on May 21, 2009 in Internships

It’s always hard to unwind after you’ve had a great day. I absolutely love working at Fahlgren Mortine. I also attended a PRSA Central Ohio mixer after work.

One of the greatest things about PR is the variety of things you can do on the job. Today, I was able to work Twitter-related things for a client. I think it’s great that this client wants to start tweeting to reach its audience.

I also will be working on a media monitoring project, all the way from outlining how I will monitor traditional and consumer-generated media, to doing the actual monitoring, to writing the reports.

If you are a PR intern, what are you doing right now? I’d love to hear about and learn from your experiences.

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First Day Tips for PR Interns

Posted by Rachel Esterline on May 20, 2009 in Internships, Public Relations

I started my internship at Fahlgren Mortine today. I learned how to use tools like Cision and Factiva. I also edited a media list and worked on researching editorials for a client. First days can be intimidating, so here are a few tips for your first day at a new internship. Nick Lucido also has a few reminders.

1. Be proactive about working from day one. If you’re not doing anything, review information about your clients, look through the manual or ask if there is anything you can do.

2. If you’re in a new city (or state, like I am), leave early in case you get lost or stuck in traffic. I actually drove to work before my first day so I would know the route and left very early in the morning to avoid the rush.

3. Ask questions. They expect that you won’t know what you’re doing. It is better to get things straight than to ask about simple things a month later.

4. Bring necessary information for HR. Sometimes they will need a copy of your social security card or your driver’s license.

5. Be excited. You’re an intern! You are one step closer to being a professional.

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The Road Not Taken

Posted by Rachel Esterline on May 19, 2009 in Fahlgren Mortine, Internships

Yesterday, I arrived in Ohio. I start my internship with Fahlgren Mortine tomorrow morning.

Internships offer valuable experiences and I believe accepting an internship outside of Michigan will give me a different perspective.

I could have taken the less stressful route, accepting an internship within close distance to my apartment. I could have avoided the tearful goodbyes. If I wouldn’t have come to Ohio, I wouldn’t have made my five hour drive into an eight hour drive by getting lost and/or off track multiple times.

But, by the end of the summer, I’m sure it will all be worth it. And when I graduate and start my career, I believe my internship and experiences with Fahlgren Mortine will put me “a step ahead.”

Reflecting on this, I am reminded of “The Road Not Taken,” by Robert Frost. Someday, when I have a successful career in public relations, I hope to be able to tell people that I had a choice between internships and I took the one that I considered to be less traveled…and I hope to be able to say that it made all the difference.

Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

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The Founder’s Award

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Apr 15, 2009 in Career, Fahlgren Mortine, Internships

Reflecting over the past three years, I realize I’ve put in a lot of hours in developing my skills for a career in public relations. Sometimes I wondered if it was going to make a difference when I started applying for my six-credit internship.

On Wednesday, I found out it had. I was offered the Founder’s Award. One month ago, I wrote Fahlgren Mortine Award: 5 Things I Realized When Applying. I was ecstatic and shocked when I found out I got it. The award offers a $1,500 scholarship and a full-time paid internship at $400 per week. Although I do not know how many great PR students I was up against, I’m sure there was some stiff competition.

Fahlgren Mortine is listed in the top 100 public relations firms nationally by PR Week. It is the largest firm in Columbus, Ohio, pulling in $5.2 million in revenue in 2007. They have earned PRSA Silver and Bronze Anvils in ’08, ’07 and ’06.

So you can see why I’m so excited.

I start the internship on May 20, so be sure to check back on this blog if you are interested in what it is like to move out of state to complete an amazing internship.

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Fahlgren Mortine Award: 5 Things I Realized When Applying

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Mar 18, 2009 in Internships, Public Relations

I recently applied for Fahlgren Mortine’s Founder’s Award, which provides a paid summer internship and a $1,500 scholarship to a sophomore or junior. I had to submit a cover letter, resume, application form, two letters of recommendation, two writing samples and several completed assignments.

First of all, this was the most intensive internship application I have ever seen. To be totally honest, it was more work than some classes I have taken.

But, believe it or not, I had fun working on the assignments. The assignments enabled me to show the professionals at Fahlgren Mortine how I used my research, writing and PR skills.

Here are five things I realized (or was reassured about) when applying for this award:

1. Tweet to connect. Through Twitter, I found a news anchor who worked for the channel I wanted to pitch to. When researching, I was having trouble figuring out who exactly I would pitch to. I explained what type of client I was working for and what the pitch was about and she gave me several ideas of who I would contact, if this were a real pitch. Twitter once again is proved as a useful tool for communicators.

2. Brainstorm for ideas. One assignment was to create an event agenda.  I think I could have written a conference agenda with my page-long list. But, by brainstorming a lot of ideas, I was able to pick out the ones I thought worked best.

3. Crazy creative. I can’t completely suggest to be crazy creative, I guess, because I haven’t heard back about the internship. But, I created a logo for the client. The assignment didn’t say I needed to, but I felt the project would look better if it had one. Hopefully they don’t think I’m crazy for putting in the extra work.

4. Research, research, research. When creating the event agenda, I didn’t just choose speakers and activities that I thought would be good. I also researched venues in the city.  I was even able to choose which rooms I wanted to use for my event.

5. Paper matters. Maybe it doesn’t matter, but I felt better putting my materials on nice, thick paper. It looked professional and clean. It might cost more money, but isn’t your career worth it?

Challenges inspire me. I’m not sure if it is because I like hard work, or if I just want to prove something, but I love a good challenge. The Fahlgren Mortine application was challenging, but I saw it as an opportunity to improve my skills. And, maybe I’ll even get an internship out of the deal! It was a great learning experience.

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Agency Life, Internships and Resume Advice with a Ketchum AAE

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Feb 20, 2009 in Career, Internships, PRSSA, Public Relations, Resume

A few weeks ago I talked on the phone with my mentor I was paired with through the Mentorship Connection. Kevin Saghy, an assistant account executive at Ketchum, graduated from Ohio Northern University. He  served as PRSSA national vice president of chapter development during his junior year and was national president his senior year.

Here are a few of the great points he made:

About Agency Life

Kevin said agencies have an exciting work atmosphere and provide an opportunity to work with really smart people and on a variety of accounts. The hardest thing, he said, is to balance time between several clients and manage deadlines.


Kevin suggested getting as many internships as you can get and have completed at least two by graduation. Agencies generally like to see some prior experience at an agency, but varied experience helps too.


Kevin, who has had an inside look at Ketchum’s hiring processes, said relevance is important and experience trumps education. He suggested I organize my resume with relevance in mind; I had been unsure of whether or not I should list all of my experience (which would put my last internship towards the bottom), or sort it by professional and college experiences. By sorting these experiences, I was able to put my internship right up top.

My favorite thing he said about resumes: “It’s not a formula. You don’t need to listen to career services to get a job.”

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