Welcome To This Jenn Girl

Today is the day that I make the official move from Polished PR to This Jenn Girl! I cannot even begin to fully express how excited I am to go on this new journey with you. Although it is slightly bittersweet to be leaving WordPress, I am so thrilled to be making this big move, and I hope that you will join me!

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Guest Post: Extreme Makeover: Business Cards Edition

Hopefully, everyone knows the importance of having a business card by now, but if you don’t, I need you to come out from under the rock you’re living in. Whether you’re employed or unemployed, business cards help promote your personal and professional brand. Let’s face it, we all want to move up that grand corporate ladder, and business cards, along with a few other things, can help you get there.

Unlike a resume, business cards are used just for your contact information. As far as the basics, you should include your name, phone number and e-mail. Depending on your employment status, the information mentioned before would be work related in addition to your company name, your title and work address. Although this probably goes without saying, add your top two or three most active social media accounts to your card as well.

Listing your online portfolio would be another great addition to your business card also. If you haven’t already, I suggest that you create an about.me profile or use sites like Weebly or Wix so people can view your work.

Not only is the information you provide on your cards important, but the design element is also important. Here are a few tips to help your business card stand out from the rest.

Use Vibrant Colors – What is more eye catching than seeing spots of color on something? You could have the color incorporated into your logo, or have your name in a different color or font from the other text. Be aware that too many colors or fonts can look too busy. As long as you stick to 1 or 2 different colors and fonts you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.

Be Different – The majority of business cards that I’ve seen are horizontal cards. Just to be different, why not order vertical cards? I mean, who said that business cards should only be printed one way?

Choose Your Corners Wisely –  Is anyone else shocked that the corners of a business card can be printed in another form besides square? Well, rounded corners are actually kind of popular and they look really nice on cards. Square corners, Imma let you finish, but rounded corners are the best corners of all time.

Add Visual Elements – I’ve read that if your photo is on your business card, it’s easier for the person to remember you the next time they see you. Which means all the time and money you spent into printing these beauties won’t be in vain. Adding logos, graphics or even adding your own work to your card makes them unique.

If you’re really feeling fancy, go on and create a nontraditional business card like the one pictured below. I know I’d definitely remember the person who gave me that card.

Photo Credit: Vandelaydesign

Photo Credit: Vandelaydesign

In case you’re design-challenged, Pinterest is a great place to draw inspiration from! Of course, you could always look at the templates provided by most places that specialize in printing business cards. With sites like VistaPrint.com, MOO.com, Zazzle.com, Office Depot and Staples all offering cards for reasonable prices, there is no excuse for not having business cards.

Bonus Tip: Carry a few business cards with you everywhere you go. You never know who you’ll meet in line at Publix or even in the airport waiting for a flight. Remember that you’ll never have to get ready, if you stay ready!

About the Contributor:

bja

Brea Allen is a graduate of the University of South Florida where she obtained a degree in mass communications with a concentration in public relations. She is a self-proclaimed music and pop culture enthusiast and loves all things Beyonce and positivity. When she’s not on the post-grad job hunt, she’s blogging at AllSheWrotePR.blogspot.com or tweeting at @breajallen.

Guest Post: Just For Me Mani (Plus, An Interview Tip!)

Hi everyone!! My name is Jacqui and I run a U.S. nail art blog called craftynail.com.  I’m very happy to guest post for Polished PR today!  After all, I’ve been reading Jenn’s blog since, well, since we both started blogging!  I love that Jenn throws in little tips on career building.  I moonlight as a nail blogger, but I work as an advisor at a university for my day job.  So education and career planning is in the forefront of my mind as well.  If you read through to the end of my post I will have a bonus job interviewing tip for you!  But let’s see my nails first…

As a blogger, I often find myself doing my nails specifically for a nail art challenge, or to review a new product I received. But what’s different about this manicure is that I did it JUST FOR ME! It’s not often enough that I get to do a manicure just because I feel like it! I used two polishes that have been calling to me saying, “Jacqui, you love me, why don’t you wear me?  You keep thinking about me, but I’m still sitting here on this shelf!” Those two talking polishes are Zoya Zuza (my base color) and Sinful Colors Lush Life (glitter topper).

Being this glitter-tastic didn’t come easy though! You won’t believe how many coats of polish I’m wearing here. I applied one coat of Essence peel-off base coat, two coats of Zoya Zuza to give me a nice teal base color, 5 coats of my Sinful Colors teal glitter, and one coat of Seche Vite topcoat.  That is a total of 9 coats!  I didn’t expect needing that many, but I wanted it to be super glittery and my Lush Life glitter was more sparse than I expected.  Oh well.  No one said being beautiful was easy!

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Now for my job interviewing tip!  I interview students from time to time when my office needs a new student worker or intern.  I have also been on the other side, as an interviewee, since I have had many career changes since I graduated from college.  I’ve landed some jobs that I had no experience in at all.  I’d like to think that a lot of my success hinged on my interviewing skills.  Specifically, my enthusiasm and honesty.  What do I mean by that?  If I’m interviewing for a job and I’m really psyched about it, I make sure to tell the interviewer!  You should come right out and tell them exactly why you think you are perfect for the job and that you’re really excited about the opportunity.  Be honest with them.  If you’re thinking it’s a perfect fit for you, then tell them that!  If they don’t ask you questions that allow you to express this stuff, then make sure to bring it up before you leave the interview.

When I’m saying my goodbyes I like to stand up, shake their hand nice and firm and tell them how excited I am because of x, y and z. Look them straight in the eyes and be honest and enthusiastic.  You want to end the interview with a bang so you stand out from the bunch.  Why would they want to hire someone who just comes in, sits down and answers their questions like a drone when they could hire YOU!

I must admit, I always get so nervous before I interview!  I can’t tell you how to handle that, since I haven’t found a solution for that yet.  LOL!  But none the less, I hope my little interviewing tip is helpful for you.  Thanks to Jenn for having me!  And if you want to see more of my Craftynail style, find me online!  Here’s where I’ll be hanging out– facebookpinteresttwittertumblr, and bloglovin. 

 

 About the Contributor:

july7th

Jacqui lives in the Hudson Valley of New York State, where she works at a university as a financial aid counselor. When the daily grind of student loans comes to an end, she can be found hibernating at home while whipping up some cool craftiness. The main focus of her blog, Craftynail, is on nail care, nail polish and cute nail designs.

Guest Post: Shaping Your Career Path With A Blog

Everything starts with an idea. For me, though, it started with a fear. The idea of people reading my writing has always been horrifying to me. I would cover my paper when teachers walked by, shoo my sister away if she saw me scribbling, and then later on, I just decided not to write anymore.  The fear of someone else reading and then possibly critiquing my writing was enough to stifle my passion for a long time.

I am, now a public relations major at Penn State, and after being undecided my first two years (more like, undecided most of my life), I could not be happier with my decision. I love PR because I have a passion for people. I want to be the bridge between person and company, and public relations is the perfect way to do that.

Public relations isn’t all glam and gold though. I have to write, and people have to read it. My writing professor this semester gave me great advice, and that was to write everyday. Simple enough, right? I wanted to take this a step further. It’s one thing to write everyday, but I saw this as an opportunity to rekindle an old flame. After not writing for so long, I wanted to do something worthwhile with it.  So naturally, I started a blog.

I have only been blogging for a couple of months. After I published my first post, I was excited, horrified and proud. Nothing is more permanent then the Internet, and now I had about 300 of my own words, published for the whole world to see. I wanted to keep going. The fear I had of people reading my writing and critiquing and judging was slowly starting to disappear.

After only a couple months of blogging, I was accepted to be a member of the Her Campus Blogger Network. But, what’s even more exciting to me, is that I’ve told my friends and my family about my blog. I was afraid of judgment, but all I am getting is love and support.

I cannot wait for my blog to grow into something truly amazing and wonderful. I am excited for upcoming projects and my future as a blogger. I am grateful for my new followers and my exponentially growing views that I receive everyday. But I don’t think anything will ever compare to seeing someone I love and them telling me, “Hey, I read your blog today.”

 

About the Contributor:

Me

Briannah is currently a sophomore studying public relations at Penn State University. She recently discovered her passion for blogging and loves to write about the obstacles she faces in college and how she is over coming them. Her blog, Briannah., is a lifestyle, fashion, and beauty blog where she gives her readers the inside scoop on fashion trends and beauty product reviews, as well as allows them to see her mistakes and triumphs as a college student.

Things To Remember During The Job Hunt

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Prior to, and during, the daunting adventure of searching for a full-time career, there are many pieces of advice given to us by family members, friends, mentors and peers. Sometimes, we get the hopeless thoughts of never finding a position stuck in our heads, placed there by the people who tell us, “The market is tough— it took me months after graduation to find a job. You’ll encounter the same.” Other times, we find ourselves overwhelmed, because we are told, “Apply for every single job you find.”

As a recent graduate who successfully secured a couple of job offers prior to graduation, I want to share three pieces of advice that I personally want to give you that may contrast from what you’ve been hearing, along with my reasoning behind them.

Don’t spread yourself thin.
 
I can’t tell you how often I heard advice along the lines of “Apply for everything,” being given to students entering the job search phase of their career path. I cannot emphasize this enough to you: don’t do it. You’re only doing yourself a disadvantage of applying to every job that’s related to your industry. It’s important to select position that are tailored to the skills and experience that you have. You’re also setting yourself up for a big letdown if you’re applying for a position that you’re not 100% sure you’re a good fit for.
Read the rest of this post on All She Wrote PR, where it was originally featured!

Success In Public Relations

Yesterday, over coffee, a friend and colleague of mine shared with me a read that she thought I’d find helpful and relevant to the public relations industry. It’s a list of personality traits that determine whether an individual will succeed in the world of public relations, which I’m sure you’ve come across in public relations textbooks or journals. These traits were compiled by Bill Cantor, an author and the president of an executive search company in New York known as The Cantor Concern, which has since evolved into Cantor Integrated Marketing Staffing.

I’m going to share all 10 traits with you, then elaborate on the five that I feel are most relevant to a young pre-professional.

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Cantor’s Traits for Success:

  1. Response to tension
  2. Individual initiative
  3. Curiosity and learning
  4. Energy, drive and ambition
  5. Objective thinking
  6. Flexible attitude
  7. Service to others
  8. Friendliness
  9. Versatility
  10. Lack of self-consciousness

If you can relate to all ten of these characteristics, you and public relations go together like peas and carrots. Out of these 10 traits, the five that I feel benefited me most when I first started as an intern are:

Individual Initiative

It only does you a disadvantage if you’re always waiting for instructions. Being able to think ahead of the game and anticipate needs is necessary in the world of PR.

Curiosity & Learning

You’ll never ever stop learning at any point in your career, because in this industry we are constantly evolving, learning and adapting to new trends. It’s said so often, but, be a sponge. And better than that, want to be a sponge. You should always want to learn more about a client and its product/service, mission and competitors. 

Energy, Drive & Ambition

In my opinion, the best of public relations professionals never complain about how tired they are. Sure, we’ll joke about how much coffee we consume, but working around the clock is something to be expected from this industry. Instead, they talk about that adrenaline rush they got from a busy, productive day or the feeling of satisfaction they got from a campaign well-done. Great PR pros are stimulated, not deterred, by problems, and are persistent on finding a solution.

Objective Thinking

The ability to be perceptive and aware of your surroundings and what’s going on in them is a vital trait to possess in PR. As Cantor explains, you “must know what to do and say and when.” Working in the industry requires you to pay very close attention to detail, especially in writing, as well as the ability to observe someone else’s feelings through verbal and non-verbal communication.

Flexible Attitude

I’ll admit, sometimes it’s hard to be aware of when you’re in the wrong, but it’s still a necessary trait as a PR professional. Because you communicate with so many different individuals, from your clients, to their audiences, to the media, it’s also important that you’re able to see things from their points of view. Don’t always make decisions based on your own personal beliefs. Instead, take into consideration your client, its audience and the media when necessary.

 

Which traits do you think are most important when it comes to starting off in the world of public relations? Let me know by leaving me a comment, or starting a conversation with me on Twitter at @thisjenngirl.

 

Getting An Internship Part 3: Preparing For Your Interview

This post has been a long time coming, but I wanted to release it mid-semester, since it can apply to job seekers as well. As I know many college seniors are readying themselves for graduation, I thought this would be a great post for everyone to read, no matter where they are in their career path.

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You’ve sent in your resume and cover letter, and after waiting anxiously for what seemed like weeks, the hiring manager for the position you applied to has contacted you, asking to schedule an interview. Here are some tips to help you prepare for your interview and that will allow you to leave the meeting feeling confident that you aced it:

Research the position.

Go back to the position description that you read when you applied for the internship. Jot down all the responsibilities required from the position as well as the required skills. Highlight the responsibilities that you are familiar with and have had success with– these points will help you convey to the hiring manager what you have to bring to the table. With the ones that are not highlighted, think of the characteristics that you possess that are relevant to those responsibilities. That way, when the question, “Are you familiar with _____?” comes up, you can respond confidently with, “I haven’t had much experience with _____, but I have strong _____ skills that I feel will allow me to successfully accomplish this responsibility.” As you did with the list of responsibilities, highlight the skills that you possess. The ones that are not highlighted will allow you to convey what you wish to learn from the internship, for example: “I would love to learn more about event coordination and improve my research skills when it comes to finding vendors for the event.”

Know the company.

Do your research on the company that you’re applying to work at. What awards has it won? Who are its clients? What kind of work environment does it appear to have? Knowing these details will allow you to not only familiarize yourself with the company, but also feel comfortable when you step foot into the door, because you have an idea of what to expect and also how to dress for the interview.

Assemble a folder.

Ready a folder that contains a print copy of your current resume and cover letter for the hiring manager to reference back to. Include portfolio items such as writing samples, graphic design work, social media content calendars, etc.– include items that relate to the position you’re applying for and its corresponding responsibilities. Will you be interviewing with a group of people? Bring duplicates of the folder so that each person can have his/her own copy.

Create a folder for yourself as well. This will be helpful if someone asks, “It says here on your resume that you created content for social media. Can you elaborate?” Easy. Pull out the content calendar you placed into your folder and respond, “Absolutely. In your folder you’ll find this mock content calendar that I created for a social media course. I kept the posts limited to 15-20 per month and drafted copy that would encourage engagement from the client’s audience.” Be sure to keep copies of references on you, don’t include them in the folders. Only provide a list of references when it’s requested.

Prepare a couple of questions.

Asking questions of your own during an interview shows your desire to obtain the position and also your drive to excel in it. Questions such as, “How do you define success in this position?” or “What do you enjoy most about the company culture?” will allow your interviewer to realize that you really want to do a good job as an intern. Not only that, but it will help you become an awesome intern and grow your skill set, ultimately widening and benefiting your career path.

I hope these tips prove useful to you during your interview preparation. Don’t be nervous– you’ve done your research. Just go in with a sense of confidence and knock his/her/their socks off. Good luck!

Have any additional pieces of advice to add? Leave me a comment, or start a conversation with me on Twitter at @thisjenngirl!

Optimizing Your LinkedIn Profile

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Whether you’re a student in college applying for internships, a recent graduate searching for an entry-level position or already a professional in the working world, chances are, you’ve got a LinkedIn page with your name on it. No matter where you are in your career path, it’s important to optimize and maintain your LinkedIn profile. Doing so will allow you to become more visible to other students/colleagues in your industry and will also help you increase your connections to the industry. Here are some key areas of your LinkedIn page to pay extra attention to:

Profile Photo

If your profile photo on LinkedIn is currently a white shadow of a bald person, I recommend that you upload a photo of yourself as soon as possible! Without a profile photo, if your profile comes up in a search, it’s unlikely that someone will choose to view it, under the assumption that you probably haven’t logged on to your LinkedIn in awhile.

What makes a good profile photo? Your picture should be a professional headshot– it doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just remember to smile, because everyone loves an approachable face. Stay away from selfies and modeling photos, as well as photos with a limb cut off because you had to crop out the person standing next to you.

Headline

Make sure that your headline is not only search-friendly, but also says who you are and what you specialize in and speaks to your audience. Maybe you’re a ‘Detail-oriented public relations student eager to learn from a corporate PR internship‘ or a ‘Seasoned public relations professional specializing in managing crises.‘ Whoever you are, make sure that stands out in your headline– leverage those 120 characters!

Summary

Write your summary in first person– LinkedIn, after all, is a social media platform– let some personality shine through! Who are you? What experience (and how much) do you have? What are you passionate about? What are you hoping to gain from a connection? Answer these questions here, but try not to get too lengthy; two to three short paragraphs is perfect.

Experience

Similar to your resume, current experiences should be bulleted in present tense, while past experiences should be bulleted in past tense. Don’t resort to ‘fluff’ in this portion of your profile– highlight responsibilities (clear, concise & straight to the point) that will make a recruiter or potential connection go, ‘Wow, he/she accomplished that?!

Advice For Contacting

How can someone contact you outside of LinkedIn? In what instances would you like he/she to contact you? Type it out in this section. Think of something along the lines of ‘Interested in working with me? You can contact me directly at _____.’

Which section do you think is most vital when it comes to leveraging your LinkedIn profile? Let me know by leaving a comment, or by tweeting me at @thisjenngirl!

Getting An Internship Part 2: Preparing Your Cover Letter

In this second part of the “Getting An Internship” series, I’m going to go over how to compile information within paragraphs to create a basic cover letter. Your cover letter will help the reader (hopefully your future internship supervisor!) get to know more about you, your passions and your skills.

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Traditionally, cover letters are used as an attachment, sent along with your resume for review by the recruiter. While others may recommend that you continue distributing your cover letter as so, I actually recommend that you use your cover letter as the body of your email to the recruiter. One of the big things that we learn as public relations students is when pitching to an outlet to gain coverage of your client, you want to capture the reader’s attention– and then get to the point. I look at reaching out to a recruiter the same way. Whichever method you choose is up to you, but this tip sheet will help you either way. Make a rough draft that answers the following questions, and then form them into sentences (with transitions!) to create smooth paragraphs that flow together.

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I’ve also attached a sample cover letter below that will help you get the gist of how to put it all together. This cover letter is one I actually used to secure an interview, and ultimately an offer, from my current job. I hope that you find this useful, and if you have any questions at all, don’t be afraid to ask!

To Whom It May Concern,

My name is Jennifer Thai and I am a public relations student at the
University of South Florida, expected to graduate in December of this
year. I came across your listing for the social media associate
position on the Ad 2 Tampa Bay job bank, while searching for career
opportunities that are a match with my area of interest. This particular position
caught my eye as it entails creating & maintaining social media
strategies as well as other public relations & marketing initiatives
for clients, which is where my expertise lies.

I have three years of public relations and communications internship
experience in both agency and in-house settings, as detailed in my
resume. I also bring four years of internship experience in digital
marketing—because these particular digital positions required me to
work remotely, I am proud to say that I have gained the ability to
successfully manage multiple projects in a fast-paced environment
while never missing a deadline.

I am a creative and socially-driven individual, and I believe that my
abilities in interpersonal communication, taking initiative and
remaining level-headed through any situation are qualities that would
best suit a position of this nature. I would love to be given the
opportunity to fill this position, and to be able to show that the
qualities that I possess will establish me as an ideal social media
associate. Thank you for your time and consideration, and I hope to
hear from you soon.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Thai

Getting An Internship Part 1: Preparing Your Resume

In this “Getting An Internship” portion of the series I’ve been preparing for you, there will be three separate parts, each with its own tip sheet– Part 1: Preparing Your Resume, Part 2: Preparing Your Cover Letter and Part 3: Acing Your Interview.

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Before applying to an internship that you’ve found, you should make sure that you have a resume on file. If you haven’t created one already, this sample template should assist you in compiling the information you need for a functional resume:

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If this is your first internship that you’re applying to, chances are, you don’t have a whole lot of substance to put onto your resume. But if you carefully read the description of the internship position, you may find that you have experiences that are relevant. Have you participated in any volunteer opportunities within the past two years? Are you an active member of an organization on campus? Have you had any part-time jobs that taught you about responsibility, organization, multitasking or taking initiative? Any of these experiences can be included in your resume, so long as the skills that you took from them are related to that of the internship you are applying to.

When you begin listing the responsibilities of each experience, be sure to utilize strong action verbs, such as communicated, compiled, organized, produced, assisted with, etc. If the position that you are describing is one you held in the past, be sure to list its responsibilities in the past tense. If you still hold that position currently, list its responsibilities in the present tense.

You’ll want to organize your resume with your most recent experience at the top, with the rest in reverse chronological order. Although a lot of resume samples list the dates numerically (05/2009 – 06/2010), I recommend that you list your dates with the month spelled out, followed by the year (May 2009 – June 2010). Using this method makes it easier for the reader and reduces any unnecessary confusion.

A lot of resume samples that you’ll find online include an ‘objective’ section, where you include (in sentence form) the position that you are seeking, along with any skills you feel are appropriate for that position. Personally, I think that this is unnecessary, as your email subject line will answer the question of what position you are applying for and your cover letter will explain in detail the skills that you encompass that make you a good candidate for the internship.

As far as the ‘skills’ section of your resume goes, ask yourself: What skills do I possess that are relevant to the internship that I am applying for? What software are you familiar with, do you know how to use Microsoft Office, Adobe Illustrator, InDesign or Photoshop? Are you good at writing, familiar with AP Style? List your skills, in bullet form.

After you complete your resume, check, double check and triple check for any errors. Once you feel confident in the way it sounds and appears, ask a variety of people to look it over for you: an advisor, a friend, a mentor, a professor, etc. Your university’s career center is also a very helpful resource if you’re stuck on how to effectively bring your skills out on paper.

Good luck on your search for an internship, and be sure to check back for part two, which will cover the topic of preparing your cover letter!