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ExPRessions :: Career

Posts Tagged ‘ Career ’

Featured Professional: Janet Aronica, Account Coordinator at Kel & Partners

How did you get your first full-time job?

It was hard work! I started my job search in November of my senior year.  I knew I wanted to move to Boston so I did a lot of research on the companies out here and I used to Twitter to make contacts at said companies.  In February, I came out did informational interviews. Pretty much everyone said they weren’t hiring.

Around that time I did an informational phone interview with my current boss, and we hit it off pretty good.  Again, she wasn’t hiring, but told me to get back in contact with her if I did move out here. One thing led to another, and she ended up having an opening for me a month later and I got this job.  Yay!

Basically, I was really persistent and I tried to keep my chin up no matter how many times people told me they had a hiring freeze.  I think what really worked for me was doing the internship at SHIFT after graduation.  It kept me in the PR “loop” and made me look more proactive to potential employers.

I don’t think more experience could ever hurt you when you are young and just starting out.  Doing an internship after graduation isn’t the most popular idea with people because there is definitely this expectation that you “have” to get a job.  But I would tell anyone that there is no shame in doing an internship and waiting tables the summer after you graduate until you hit your big break.

How long did it take to get your job from the time you graduated?

I started at Kel & Partners in August, so three months.

What has helped you stand out from other recent graduates? Did you have a strategy for this? How has social media helped your career?

I think that my involvement with social media helped me stand out from other candidates.  Twitter is awesome! It really helped me build a network in Boston while I was still living in Upstate, NY.  People always asked about my blog during interviews.

Social media also helped me at my last internship and at my current job because I think people recognized that I had a skill-set and an interest in that area, so I’ve been given fun and interesting projects that I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to work on if I didn’t know about social media.  I definitely had a strategy for this, and I based that strategy off of several bloggers and social media marketing pros that I look up to.  (Julia Roy, Sarah Evans and Julia Allison from Non Society have influenced me more than they know!)

What advice do you have for young PR pros?

Oh gosh, I’m still learning new things every day myself!  I guess it’s these four things:

1. Do internships in a lot of different areas. I did corporate, agency and nonprofit PR/marketing internships so I got a feel for a variety of stuff.  I would also say to really take a good hard look at yourself, think about which internship made you happiest, don’t deny it and find a job in that area. Don’t be afraid of what you really want.

2. Get involved in social media, without a doubt. Even if you see yourself working in the most traditional, old school, anti-Twitter industry – there is still value in growing your network and personal brand in social media.  It can definitely be intimidating at first, but you may find you have a strong interest in that area, after all.  I thought Twitter was dumb at first, but I gave it a solid chance for about a month and then I was hooked – and it’s turned out to be a great opportunity for me.

3. Have a question? Google it first! Try to fix it yourself. Want to know how to make a row in Excel? Google it. Want to know how to make a folder on the shared drive? Try a few things on your own, and then ask for help. As an intern and as an account coordinator, always try to be proactive and make your manager’s job easier by trying to manage yourself.

4. Don’t expect to have it all figured out by age 23. You’re gonna make mistakes and you’re gonna be confused sometimes, but that’s part of the excitement of your early twenties.  Work hard, learn all you can, make connections and don’t forget to have a blast while doing it.

About Janet

Janet is a self-proclaimed internet geek, marketing girl, and consummate creative-type living in Boston, MA. She is originally from Buffalo, NY, and received her B.A. in Communication/Journalism in May 2009 from St. John Fisher College.

Janet interned for at SHIFT Communications before landing her first “big kid job” as an account coordinator at Kel & Partners. Her passions include fitness and writing. She indulges both passions over at her blog, Social Health Nut.

Connect with her on Twitter @janetaronica or shoot her an e-mail at janetaronica [at] gmail.com.

Are you a “Go-Getter Girl?”

March 6, 2010 10:20 am | No Comments

GGGLast month I read The Go-Getter Girl’s Guide by Debra Shigley. If you haven’t read this book yet, buy it or borrow it. Now. Even if you’re not in PR (it applies to everyone!)

I actually checked this book out from CMU’s library and now I plan to purchase it because Debra’s advice is something I could read over and over again. (Thanks @Mikinzie and @JessLaw for recommending it to me).

Here are a few things that really resonated with me:

  • “…in the business world, not everyone has your best interest in mind.” (p. 21)
  • The way you dress matters…there is an entire chapter called “Wardrobe Building 101.”
  • Being well-groomed is important…the GGG has tips and tricks, as well as the “must-haves” for your beauty regimen.
  • Self-education is key. Be resourceful and keep up your radar on what’s important in your workplace. There are infinite resources available to you to help you learn (Hello, Google!).
  • Have a variety of mentors. Some mentors are meant to help you with the “big picture” problems and others can help you daily in the workplace. There is a difference, so be sure that you are appropriately using these mentors.
  • Negotiate your  new job (which is scary as a young professional!). And you don’t just need to negotiate your salary. There are things like flexible hours, vacation, technology and your title. The book has an entire list of things you can consider negotiating.
  • Quitting a job is tough, but the book includes several situations when you should quit…like if you’re not challenged. But, there also are many reasons why you shouldn’t quit.
  • Embrace who you are and what you love.

I want to talk about my favorite part, Chapter 11, last. “Find Allies and Advocates” has such great advice and it’s something they don’t teach you in college. If you don’t have anyone at your job rooting for you, then you probably won’t make it far. These people are the ones who might make a case for you for that promotion. Or, maybe they are the ones who can say you’re the perfect person for an upcoming project you want to take on. They support and trust you. Not sold on needing allies. Here’s what sold me on it:

“…karma is a funny thing, so keep in mind that each of these people can potentially help make you – or break you. An intern today can be your boss three years from now.” (p. 169)

If you’re an ambitious woman who wants to move your career forward, you need to read this book.

#ENTRYLEVELtweet Review

February 22, 2010 9:20 pm | No Comments

Heather Huhman and I have been working together on a few projects recently and she sent me a copy of #ENTRYLEVELtweet , an paperback book. This is my review of it.

ENTRYLEVELtweet_cover.midHow many of us have the time (or attention span) to read one of those long books on how to find a job? Probably not one person who is reading this actually does.

The great advice Heather offers in this book is in bite-sized pieces for those who don’t have time to mess around. There are 140 pieces of advice, written concisely like a tweet.

The great thing is that each tweet of advice is something you can do…right now.

Check out her books here.

I’ve had several jobs since my freshman year. Now that I’m a senior, I’ve realized that each job has helped me learn more about myself and move my career forward.

Starting out as a student worker in a CMU department office, I learned how to fix copy machines and look the other way when the secretary made snotty comments about students. I honestly hated the job.

But, looking back, it was my first taste of office politics. I remember on my first day being told, “Sometimes we talk about people in here and anything we say is not to be repeated.”

Lesson #1: Office politics exist. Don’t get involved in the talk around the water cooler, but also don’t take offense to it. It’s not worth your time.

After my freshman year I worked as a carriage driver. Whether it was 98 degrees and humid, or below freezing in a blizzard, we drove the horses through the streets of Frankenmuth. My shift usually lasted about 13 hours and I worked five days a week (and we never were given weekends off).

Lesson #2: Work hard while there is work to be done, even if that means extra hours and weekends.

But, one of the most important things I learned during my time as a carriage driver was how to talk to people. Part of my job was to give a 20- or 40-minute tour of the city. In the meantime, it was necessary to get to know the customers and answer their questions. The more they felt connected to you, the better tip they left you with.

Lesson #3: There are many benefits to getting to know people, even if you only get to spend a short time with them. Be authentic and interested.

I was so excited when I got my first job in PR as the publications intern at CMU Public Relations and Marketing. I pretty much could write an entire post about what I learned while working with Dan Digmann and Cynthia Drake, both of whom remain my mentors today. I did everything from writing articles and shooting video to designing publications and writing ad copy. They helped me learn more by giving me advice and I took initiative by checking out books about PR and design.

Lesson #4: Take advantage of every opportunity, take each piece of advice to heart and strive to learn more about your field.

Next, I worked at Central Michigan Life, CMU’s student newspaper, as an account executive. I spent most of my time on the phone, making cold calls and pitching specials to clients.

Lesson #5: We might have e-mail, text messaging, Twitter and IM. But, phone skills are still key in your career. Work hard to develop them.

After awhile, I realized that advertising sales isn’t really my thing…

Lesson #6: If a job isn’t right for you, don’t feel like you have to stay for too long. You won’t do a great if you don’t enjoy what you do.

During last summer, I interned at Fahlgren Mortine. I learned a lot during my internship, but I also learned a very important lesson before I even moved to Ohio. In order to get the internship, I had to apply for their annual Founder’s Award and go through a phone interview. I was once asked if I thought I was lucky, but….

Lesson #7: It’s not about luck. You can’t get what you want unless you work hard and are serious about your career. From developing skills to networking, it all ties together and every aspect of your professional life is important.

When I returned from Ohio, I began working for Heather Huhman’s company Come Recommended. When the position was open, Heather sent me a direct message encouraging me to apply.

Lesson #8: Social media isn’t all about telling the world what you’re doing. There is great value in building relationships with those you know through Twitter, Facebook, blogs and other forms of social media.

While working for Come Recommended, I worked one day a week at AGP & Associates, a marketing communications firm in Midland, Mich., for class credit. I loved working at the company, so I talked to the CEO about working three days a week during the next semester.

Lesson #9: It’s worth it to volunteer your time in order to get your foot in the door.

I’m still working for AGP and I absolutely love it. Between working more than 20 hours a week and being a full-time student, I’m not left with much time. I somehow manage to juggle being the press secretary for SGA, freelance writing for Vision Mid Michigan and other publications and blogging. Other opportunities to improve my skills keep popping up. This leads me to the last lesson I’ve learned over the past four years:

Lesson #10: It’s OK to say no to opportunities. It’s one of the hardest things to do, but it is necessary if you are already pressed for time.

What lessons have you learned?

Enter the contest to win a PR/social media book by commenting on this post. Information here.

Drunk GroupI recently shared suggestions on managing and enhancing your professional image online. But, I found this post interesting: “Recruiters shouldn’t care about that Facebook picture of your beer pong game in college” by Shel Holtz.

My opinion is that even though they probably shouldn’t care, and while we would hope that they wouldn’t care, some of them probably do. What you post on Facebook and other social networks helps create your image online. How do you want to be perceived by recruiters?

First impressions are very important.

Heather Huhman, a hiring manager and founder of Come Recommended, said poor first impressions through social media can negatively affect her opinion on candidates.

“For me personally, I dislike foul language more than drunk photos. I think that’s far more unprofessional than crazy photos because I realize that college kids do party,” Huhman said.

In a field such as public relations, how you communicate is key in your career. Huhman also warns of sharing extremely private information, such as information about your sex life.

“Again, it goes to the professionalism of the candidate. First impressions are one-shot deals,” she said.

Huhman mentors students and recent grads about many things, including build a professional image online. I work with Huhman and her company Come Recommended. Come Recommended is an exclusive online community, connecting intern and entry-level job candidates to employers. Both the employers and the candidates must “come recommended” by having at least three recommendations before they can access the community. Sites like these can help build your image positively.

Filter for the sake of your career.

Some people won’t care about what you say and do online. But, do you want to take that chance?

I suggest you filter some things online. Foul language and excessive personal information (example: sex life) should probably not be discussed. If you’re already well-known in your career, like Penelope Trunk, you might be able to get away with it.

But, if you aren’t famous and you’re just starting your career, you may want to be more careful. I’ve had potential employers e-mail me about my blog, supervisors read my blog and coworkers add me as a friend on Facebook.

You never know who is reading your posts or viewing your photos. Show your personality, but filter out the things that portray you negatively.

Suggested Reading

October 21, 2009 9:11 pm | No Comments

Enter the contest to win a PR/social media book by commenting on this post. Information here.

Social Media

Public Relations



Looking to enter the contest to win a PR/social media book? Information here.

I’m always looking for writing opportunities. I’ve written for Central Michigan Life and Grand Central Magazine at CMU. Whenever I can, I try to guest blog. Right now I’m writing for Vision Mid Michigan and I have another possible opportunity in the works.

Working as a journalist will immensely help you succeed in your public relations career.   Here are ten reasons why:

  1. Finding the story
    – As a reporter, you are given story assignments. But often enough, you aren’t given clear direction. Or, other times, you are given a possible angle and it will completely flop. So what do you do when the idea you were given just doesn’t pan out? You dig deeper and find the story.

    – As a PR professional, you are pitching the story. You want the editor to assign it to the reporter. If you win that battle, then you must work with the reporter. If you have ever been a reporter, you will know that they want a great story. Helping them find the story will make you more successful and their job easier.

  2. Working on deadline
    Reporters have incredibly tight deadlines. I can’t even imagine how it must be at a daily newspaper. I have a professor and an acquaintance who do though. But, I do remember getting last-minute story assignments at midnight.  I’m guessing the reporter prefers PR professionals who return calls quickly, but don’t bug them with too many follow-ups.

    – PR professionals have deadlines. I know from experience that agency life is incredibly demanding. One of my mentors, Lara, is a complete social media nut like myself and we have had discussions about how hard it can be to find time to blog (let alone take care of other priorities).  My suggestion to new PR professionals is to get back with the reporter ASAP. If you are waiting on some key information, let them know. And as much as some reporters hate it, follow up on pitches. There have been many times when I have called a reporter and they told me to resend the pitch because they hadn’t seen it, but were possibly interested.

  3. Clear, concise writing is key
    – One of my mentors, Dan, always told me to “write tight.” Basically, get rid of the unnecessary. The key to improving any skill is to practice. A lot. When you are a reporter, you spend a decent amount of time writing and editing. You learn how to sum the story up in the first few paragraphs and improve your AP Style skills.

    – Once you become a PR professional, you will already know how a reporter thinks and writes if you have worked as one. So when you’re writing a pitch or press release, you will know what the reporter expects to see in the area of writing.

  4. Interviewing skills
    – Whenever I do an interview, I always prepare as many questions as I can beforehand. Interviews don’t always go in the direction you think they will, but it’s always handy to have questions ready. Reporters do countless interviews to find their story.

    – When working with clients, you might be their spokesperson or you may have to help prepare them to answer interview questions. If you have worked as a reporter, you might be able to quickly draft answers to potential questions to prepare for the interview ahead of time.

What experiences have you had that have helped you succeed in public relations?

Suggested Reading

October 13, 2009 9:00 am | No Comments

Here are a few links to things I’ve found interesting recently:

Social Media

Public Relations




Rachel M. Esterline works in public relations and marketing communications. Her blog, ExPRessions, contains her musings about PR, marketing, career and professional development, Gen Y issues, personal branding and more. Rachel also does freelance consulting and writing. She is originally from Genesee, Mich., and will graduate from Central Michigan University in May 2010.