View from the Bottom: Crucial Skills the Classroom Won’t Provide You With

Originally posted on Weidert Group’s blog.

The other day one of my best friends, who attends a UW university that shall remain unnamed, called me to give me an update on her newly declared major, public relations/ web presence. I always love to hear what she’s doing because I think there is a lot that can be learned from the perspectives other colleges are taking on the industry.

Our conversation was going great until we started talking about internships. I asked her what she was planning on doing for the summer, hoping to hear about an awesome opportunity she got in her college town. Instead, she replied with, “Internship? Where the heck do you expect me to get one of those? We don’t have to get internships here.”

It took all I had in me not to scream at her. But, that would not really help anything.

The sad thing is that there are a lot of students, across the state and our country, who are graduating with degrees in the public relations/communications field and feel the same way. It doesn’t matter where you go to school, internship experience will be required at almost any place you apply. After working at my internship at Weidert Group for seven months, I can’t stress enough how important it is for college students to secure internships before they graduate.

Because if you don’t, you will be stuck interning after you graduate, in order to obtain the necessary experience for entry-level jobs in this industry!

Here is my list of the top five things (that employers see as necessary skills) that you won’t learn in the classroom:

1.) How to pitch the media. This is something that many of us will be doing everyday after we graduate, and it is one of the main skills that prospective employers look for when they are hiring. Have you had success pitching the media? Do you know what goes into a proper press release or media alert? What’s the difference? My internship has provided me with the ability to pitch print and digital media, as well as form relationships with local media professionals. Now, I can go into an interview and show them my media placements, display my media contacts and discuss their preferences in press release layout.

2.) How to network. Networking is one of the most important skills that a PR professional can possess. After all, one of the biggest parts of our job is managing relationships, right? My internship had provided me with the opportunity to attend countless networking opportunities ranging from client/ corporate events to fundraisers and Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) meetings. At these events, I have met PR professionals in our community that have big influences at their companies (something that will be nice when I am a professional myself).

3.) How to plan implement and measure a PR campaign. Yes, our classes give us a lot of theoretical practice when it comes to PR campaigns. But, what they don’t give us is the experience owning a campaign, approaching a business with a plan and making countless adjustments to the plan when the business says, “Sections B, D, F and G don’t work for us.” While interning, I have had the chance to work on PR campaigns from beginning to end. Unlike in the classroom, I get to go to client meetings, see their reactions and make changes to the document as they happen. You tell me what class allows you to do that.

4.) How to track social media and campaign results. This goes way beyond Hootsuite analytics, people. One of the things that I was most overwhelmed by during my first few weeks on the job was the outrageous number of analytic, measuring and marketing platforms that different companies use. Being that I work at an agency, we have to know them all, because our clients all use different ones. During my time at Weidert, I have used Vertical Response, Google Analytics, Survey Monkey, MyMediaInfo, WordPress stats, Pitchengine and, yes, even Hootsuite analytics. One platform that I need to learn in Radian 6, and you should consider learning it, and the others mentioned, too! The more you know, the more attractive you are to employers.

5.) How to be professional. Yes, there is a certain way that you have to act around your company’s executives and CEO’s. There’s also a way that you have to act around clients. These personas differentiate quite a bit and it is really something that you have to learn as you go. Thankfully, I have been able to make mistakes at my internship, an extended learning environment, versus my first professional job. Mistakes in the real world tend to me more embarrassing and come with heavier consequences.

So, I encourage you to look for an internship if you were previously opposed to one. In fact, Weidert Group is currently hiring a marketing intern and a graphic design intern; consider applying! They are so important and are vital to your success after graduation. If you have questions, or don’t know where to begin, contact me at jbedore@weidert.com or Weidert’s internship coordinator, Abby Gutowski, at agutowski@weidert.com.

Advertisements

UW Oshkosh New and Emerging Media class produces excellent students who can help you improve your online presence

Dear Oshkosh companies and organizations,

One of the things that I love about my degree program at UW Oshkosh is that there are constantly new classes added to our curriculum in order to keep up with the ever-changing demands of the public relations and marketing industries.

Recently, I took a 7-week course entitled ‘New and Emerging Media’, where we learned basically everything there is to know about social media and its application to businesses of all types. The class was a trial course and was designed to be intensive, meeting for two hours, three times a week. The great thing about the class is that it is split into two 7-week sections. So, the first half of the class (which I already took) was all theory and learning the base of different social media channels. We focused highly on how social media can be used for businesses and reviewed the different functions for different industries.

Now, I am taking part in the second half of the course, which is the application of the theory we learned in the first 7 weeks. This part of the class is cool. While the first seven weeks were extremely valuable (we had to set up our own blogs, Twitter accounts and Facebook profiles if we didn’t previously have them), these second seven weeks are even more valuable. For this section of the class, each student is assigned their own client, a non-profit organization in our community that has expressed interest in setting up a social media presence. Using what we learned in the first seven weeks of class, we are expected to work with the client (by ourselves!) and set up a strategically planned social media presence.

So, why am I randomly discussing this? Good question.

After taking the first seven weeks of the class, I became very aware of the many companies who have lack-luster social media pages, or no social media presence at all. Many of these companies simply don’t understand the business advantage to being on these sites or they just don’t have the budget or manpower to be on social media.

If you have read my previous posts on the benefit of hiring interns, this is just another reason. I am currently in a class with 10 other students, who happen to all be very knowledgeable on social media, and can be a big help to your organization. If you are struggling with any of your social media channels (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Foursquare), email me at bedorj33@uwosh.edu and I will hook you up with some great students who would love to help you succeed online!

Love,

Social Media obsessed intern

🙂

How to Set Up and Internship Program With UW Oshkosh

First off, let me start by apologizing for my lack of blogging this past month. As many of you may know, I ran for a national position for PRSSA in Seattle at National Assembly, and preparing for that pretty much took over my life. In hindsight, I suppose the process would have been a good thing to blog about!

Anyways, at my internship I am working on a series of blog posts regarding the steps companies can take to set up an internship program at my school, UW Oshkosh. I am very grateful of the opportunities that I get at my internship and want more companies to help students in my program. Below is my post, originally seen on Weidert Group’s blog. Enjoy!

***

I hope that I have influenced some of you with my last blog posting about the benefits of hiring interns. There are a number of different skills that we can bring to your company including, a knowledge of new and emerging media, unmatched enthusiasm, flexibility to work for long or short periods of time and the ability to help with time-sensitive projects. If you read my post and are now inspired to hire an intern, here are some guidelines for starting an internship program with my school, UW Oshkosh:

Before you contact the university, make sure to have the logistics of the position figured out.

1.) Decide why you want an intern. What are we going to be doing if you hire us? Typical interns either help out with special projects or perform basic daily tasks on an ongoing basis. Decide, with your team, what areas you need the most help with, where an intern can be most beneficial and how the intern will learn valuable skills though the experience.

2.) Figure out the period of employment. It is better to post an internship description with clear beginning and end dates. That way, both the employer and intern are clear on the expectations of the position. If you are looking to hire after graduation, write that there is potential for full time employment in the description. However, if you are unsure of the end date of the internship, write that it is ongoing or open for consideration. This step is very important because it helps us plan around our class schedule.

3.) Organize current employees. It is very important that an intern has an obvious supervisor. Too often, I hear frustrations from fellow interns who don’t know who they report to or who is evaluating them. Make sure to designate one person as the intern supervisor. Other essential factors include deciding which departments the intern will work in, deciding if the intern will work in one department or several, determining what training/ orientation will be needed, and working out liability issues that the intern may face.

4.) Write a position description. Have this completed before you contact the university, as they will ask for it to review. Although many employers leave this out, it is crucial to include the skills/ qualifications that are preferred. If you are seeking juniors and seniors only, include this near the top of the description to avoid confusion. Also, make sure to include duties/ responsibilities, hours/ week, location and the pay rate. If you are not going to pay an intern, which is discouraged by UW Oshkosh, then you need to list this at the top of the description so students can decide if they are able to afford taking the position.

Once the above tasks are completed, contact the appropriate person listed below. They will be able to help you with the next steps:


College of Letters and Science

Graphic Design, Public Relations, Advertising, Writing/ Editing, Media Research, Communications, Radio/TV/Film, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Geology, Music, Theater, Art and other related majors

Internship Coordinator Chrissy Lambie

lambiec@uwosh.edu

College of Business

Marketing, Accounting, Finance, Business Administration, Supply Chain Operation and Human Resources majors

Internship Director Jessie Pondell

pondellj@uwosh.edu


College of Education and Human Services

Elementary Education, Secondary Education, Special Education and Human Services Leadership majors

Director of Field Experiences Mary Beth Petesch

petesch@uwosh.edu


College of Nursing

Coordinator of Student Academic Affairs Becky Cleveland

clevelan@uwosh.edu

If you have additional questions about this process, please visit http://www.uwosh.edu/career/students/internships/internshipresourcesemployers

If you would like to learn more about Weidert Group’s internship program, contact our internship coordinator, Abby Gutowski at (920)-731-2771 (ext. 224) or agutowski@weidert.com.