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 College Student’s Alternative to the Lottery

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Apr 22, 2009 in college

Today I sent in my application for another scholarship.  It sounded like something I qualified for, but I’m sure there are plenty of other great PR students applying for it as well.

But I started thinking: Applying for internships and scholarships is a good alternative to lotteries and casinos. At least they are judged on some sort of merit rather than random chance.

Even though I live near a casino, there’s a better chance of me getting this scholarship than winning the jackpot or a Harley Davidson. That’s why I invest the time and the postage costs into applying for internships, scholarships and awards.

I know I’ve spent more than $50 in the past few months on priority mail alone. Fifty bucks doesn’t sound like much…unless you’re a college student and advertising account executive working on commission.

It’s also tough to apply for scholarships because more often than not, you will not get them. Some people won’t bother to write the essay, gather the letters of recommendation and fill out the application unless it’s a sure shot.

So far, I’ve done pretty well “winning the lottery.” But, it really wasn’t luck. I’ve worked pretty hard to get where I am today. I know I wouldn’t have gotten any awards if I wouldn’t have had the guts to apply for them in the first place despite past failures. Sometimes, you need to take action over uncertainty.

For example, I applied for the Edelman Award and the Deveney Communication Summer Scholar Program. I may have lost, but I applied for the next great internship program I heard about, which was the Founder’s Award. I was amazed when I got it (even though I wanted it more than anything and I’m sure it showed in my application). At my own university, I also was given the Allan Schoenberg Award.

Every student has self-doubt. In an old post on Penelope Trunk’s blog, she suggests just pushing through it (with a box of Oreos if you need them).

So if you’re a college student, try the gambling alternative: Apply for scholarships, internships and awards. If you’ve worked hard, you might just hit the jackpot.

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Three Ways To Launch and Manage Your Career (PRofessional Development Week)

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Mar 4, 2009 in Career, Conferences, Public Relations

This post is a part of PRofessional Development Week. The posts from March 2 to March 6 will focus on the development of professional skills of public relations students. If you would like to contribute to this special week on A Step Ahead, e-mail Rachel.M.Esterline {at} Gmail.com.

Renee Walker, the associate vice president of public relations and marketing at Central Michigan University, shared this quote with us at the CMU-FSU PRSSA Regional Activity:

Don’t let the fear of falling keep you from knowing the joy of flight.

— Lane Wallace

Here are three ways to help launch and manage your career that I learned from Renee:

  1. Create a list of “must haves,” “deal breakers,” “professional goals” and “personal goals.”
    To help you evaluate whether or not your career is going in the right direction, Renee suggested creating a list. For example, one of my “must haves” is a job that challenges me. If it is too easy, I won’t be learning much. A “deal breaker” is a job that requires me to fetch coffee. I believe in paying my dues, but I don’t want my position of intern to be taken advantage of.
  2. Identify your talents and experience gaps.
    By identifying your talents, you can better promote yourself. And, by identifying your experience gaps, you can find ways to gain the experience you need. My talents include social media and writing for publications. But, I don’t have a lot of experience in media relations. In order to close the experience gap, I should work on gaining experience in media relations in order to advance my career.
  3. Establish stretch goals.
    Since working with Renee when I was an intern in her office, I have realized she believes in pushing yourself to reach higher goals. She calls these “stretch goals.” She said it is OK if you don’t always reach your stretch goals, but you can never reach them if you don’t try. This is where her favorite quote, at the top of this post, comes in.

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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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Being a young PRofessional rock star

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Jan 9, 2009 in Blogging, Career, Internships, Public Relations

As an ambitious professional, I’m always looking for advice on getting ahead in the workplace. Today, I read Three work essentials: Rock, paper, scissors by Girl Meets Business. It’s part of the Young Professional Rockstar series.

The post really offers great advice on innovation, money and being good at what you do.

Below are my five tips to being a young PRofessional rockstar:

1. Strive to learn more. Listen to what your coworkers and superiors talk about and learn more by reading books and blogs. I remember how surprised my supervisor was when I got a book using InDesign. I wanted to design CMU Welcomes You (PDF link) myself, and the book helped me figure out how to do it.

2. Don’t make stupid errors. Spellcheck only goes so far. Print out your work to proofread it. If you have time, set it aside and look at it again later, or ask a friend or coworker to take a look at it. Also, you have an AP Stylebook and a dictionary for a reason.

3. Ask insightful questions and request advice. This applies to not just work you do, but to your career and industry overall. More experienced PRofessionals and interns often are willing to tell you about their experiences and give you great tips on getting ahead.

4. Find inspiration for creative work. I browse through stock photos and search Google, especially when designing and copywriting an ad. I also try to read blogs outside the PR industry, including WorkLoveLife, Modite, Get Rich Slowly, Bizzy Women Career and Brazen Careerist.

5. Show your passion for PR and enthusiasm to be on the job. I think one of my best traits is my passion for what I do and my ambition that drives me to work hard. Employers notice and can be impressed by this.

What are your tips to being a PRofessional rock star?

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Resume faux pas: What you should and shouldn’t do

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Dec 3, 2008 in Career, Resume

Yesterday I read Five things you should never put on your resume by Lindsay Olson.

I plan on completing my required six-credit public relations internship this summer and have been spending a lot of time working on my resume.

What you shouldn’t do

Olson’s first suggestion is to avoid giving out personal data. To determine if something is necessary on your resume, ask yourself, “Is this relevant to the position or organization?”

Olson also said not to list every job you’ve ever had. If you haven’t had a lot of experience, your resume might look a little empty. On my resume, I only list jobs that are relevant to PR or can be tied to PR. For example, I did list my former job as a carriage driver. Why? The job taught me a lot about communication. I gave horse-drawn tours around town, and my interpersonal communication skills developed dramatically.

I’ve heard a lot of controversy about how many pages your resume should be. I was told several times to keep it just one page. After talking with the PR internship coordinator at CMU about the, I extended my resume to two pages. I agree with Olson though–more than two pages is too much.

Olson advises against using personal pronouns. To avoid this, I used bullets. With bullets, you can cut down “I wrote and edited articles” to “Wrote and edited articles.” It looks cleaner and you are not distracted by the “I.”

I partially disagree with Olson on one thing though. She said not to include your references on your resume. I didn’t include mine on my resume, but I do have a separate sheet of references that I include with my resume.

Jim Wojcik, the internship coordinator for the PR program at CMU, advised the public relations writing class to include references for several reasons.

  1. You want to make things easy for the person reviewing your resume.
  2. If they want to consider you for the position, but they don’t want you to know yet, they might decide against you because you didn’t include references.
  3. They might not want to bother contacting you to get reference, so you might not get the job offer.

What you should do

  • Get a professional e-mail address. Get yourname@gmail.com. Addresses like UniversityBabe@yahoo-hotmail.com make you sound unprofessional, so trash them.
  • Make sure your objective, if you include it, addresses what you can do for them, not what they can do for you. They don’t care that you want experience. They care that you can do the job right.
  • Mold your resume to fit the job you are applying for. Don’t apply for a graphic design job and emphasize your great writing skills.
  • Include all contact information so they can decide on the best way to contact you.
  • I’ve heard dome disagreement about including GPAs. If it’s under a 3.0, I definitely would leave it out and focus more on real experiences. If they really want to know, they’ll ask you.
  • Proofread it. Ask several others to proofread it. You don’t want them to laugh at you because you said you major in “pubic relations” (a mistake that spell check will not catch).
  • Ask yourself, “Is this relevant to my career in PR?” This means your job at Taco Bell in high school, your membership in AA and your subscription to Cosmopolitan should be left off the resume. They probably shouldn’t be mentioned in the interview either.

Related posts:
Creating an online portfolio

Social media improves your online brand and influences your career

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