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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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!

I’d Love Your Help!

In this non-nail-related post, I’m requesting your help with a little photo contest that my workplace is holding :) Each department in the office was given the task of putting together a holiday-themed photo, which was shot in our production studio. My department (social) put together a photo that we felt brought back the childhood memories of opening presents, and that ecstatic feeling you got after realizing that you got exactly what you hoped for:

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This contest involves us garnering the most likes on our photo on our company’s Facebook page– the department with the most likes on its photo by New Year’s Day will receive a special holiday treat! And as our department deals with social media for clients, I couldn’t bear to lose a contest that involves garnering engagement on a Facebook post.

Please help me out by clicking here and hitting that like button, and maybe even go the extra mile and encourage your friends to do the same. With my career path, it’s important for me to prove the power of social media and word-of-mouth tactics, so I would really appreciate your support <3 Thank you in advance! xx

Which Industry Should You Work In?

Today’s post is inspired by a fellow LinkedIn user who responded to my Finding An Internship post, asking, ‘How can I find out which industry/company is suitable for me to work in?

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It’s a topic I didn’t think to include in this series of posts initially, and I’m so glad that she brought it up. When I first started my post-secondary education, I was studying biomedical sciences and following the seven-year medical program at my university, a stark contrast to the degree in mass communications I now hold. When I decided to change my major, I was trying to figure out whether to follow the advertising track or the public relations one. This question was all too relevant to the position I was in– so, how did I figure out which industry was suitable for me?

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Before deciding to change my major, and again before choosing between the advertising and public relations tracks, I did my research. You should know what to expect as far as coursework for your major goes and what responsibilities are expected of you once you apply for an internship or full-time position. I chose public relations because of the versatility of the industry– between advertising, event coordination, marketing, PR and writing, I have a loaded belt of tools because of all that I learned through coursework and internship experiences. “Why did you choose this major?” is a pretty common question that comes up on the first day of classes. It’s important that you have the answer to this question if you’re serious about the track you’re on.

Experience, experience, experience. I can’t stress this enough! Although getting advice from others is important, whether it’s from a mentor you’ve established a relationship with or from peers in a group you network with, experiencing each position for yourself is even better, because an aspect that someone else loves about the industry he/she works in may turn out to be something that you hate about it!

Like always, the tip sheet is there for your use– keep it on your phone, print it out and/or share it with classmates :)

Finding An Internship

Since I re-branded my blog to Polished PR, I haven’t really written about the public relations industry from a personal perspective. Not because I don’t have a lot to say (because I do), but mostly because I didn’t want to preach about things I hadn’t necessarily practiced yet. I didn’t want to talk about the process of becoming a PR pro if I hadn’t gotten there– but now that I’ve actually gone through the four-year process of internships, resume-updating, job applications and the subsequent interviews, and now finally landed a position in the professional world, I think that it’s time to share some of my knowledge with you :)

I’ll be writing a series of blog posts with tip sheets that range from the entire internship process (finding, getting & maintaining an internship position) to juggling post-secondary education with extracurricular activities, internships and a part-time job. First up, though, is how to find an internship position.

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I want to start off by stressing: start this phase as soon as possible. The biggest thing that employers look at is your consistency within the industry. Whether you were an intern at a single company for four years or dabbled in various industry experiences, learning a myriad of skill sets over the span of four years, employers want to see your dedication.  This tip sheet will serve as your guide throughout your internship search– print it out, save it to your phone…whatever helps!

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It’s Finally Time To Celebrate! {Picture-Heavy + Updates}

This is going to be a lengthy post– just a warning! I have three swatches/designs for you, along with some updates that I can finally share now that the semester is finally over :)

So let’s backtrack to November really quickly– I was actually able to do a simple Movember design this year, and I love the way that it turned out! I used Private Viewing from Wet ‘n Wild’s Megalast collection, utilizing a bobby pin and black polish (Manhunter by H&M) to paint mustaches on the accent nails. Very subtle, and very me:

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Last week, I put together a green-themed nail design for the purpose of supporting two projects that I was working on for my last two classes of the public relations track. For my Advanced PR course, my group was assigned to create a public relations campaign for a local, environmentally-friendly charter school. Aligning with that very theme, our PR Design course also tasked us with creating a public relations + design campaign for an also-local company that provides free recycling services to the community. These projects were a great opportunity for us to build on our PR skills and for us to build our portfolios as well.

For the base coat, I used Mojito by Ciate, a yummy, lime-green color. I also chose to incorporate some stamping (using Last Chance by Sinful Colors) that very much reminded me of nature, and the “green-feeling” that we were trying to convey in our projects:

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As far as those projects went, I personally think all the groups did a fantastic job with their presentations in both classes. It’s so awesome to be able to see that my peers are just as ready to enter the professional world like I am :) Thursday marked our last day of classes, and I couldn’t be more excited!

After four years of gaining internship experience to build my resume upon, two months of interviewing for various positions in the communications industries, and two weeks of pondering offers and trying to decide where I want to go post-graduation, I’m so happy to say that I’ve finally accepted an offer, from a seriously badass (ask the bossman for yourself!) creative advertising agency here in Tampa for a social media strategist position. I couldn’t be happier. The position’s responsibilities align with exactly what I’ve been wanting in a full-time career. And the company culture? Don’t even get me started. They encourage creativity in all aspects imaginable and function more as a collaborative family than a tier of professionals ranging from executive to director to associate to entry-level.  I am SO STOKED to be a part of this family and am so extremely grateful for my support system who’ve kept me sane as well as the experiences that have allowed me to grow to my fullest potential.

And finally, we’re coming to an end here. As I didn’t want to do my graduation nails immediately since graduation is still a week away, I opted to go black yesterday, since I realized that I haven’t worn black nail polish by itself in forever. This is two coats of Manhunter by H&M (looove!) topped with a single coat of Revlon Colorstay top coat + a single coat of Seche Vite:

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That’s it for now! My next update will most likely come sometime next week, as graduation is this next weekend and I start my new job immediately after. Until then, xo <3

Musings

I have a feeling 2013 is going to be an amazing year for me :)

I’ve been working tirelessly these past three years as a college student to ensure that I have the experience necessary to make my mark in the public relations & social media world upon graduation, and it’s really all starting to pay off!

I’m entering my fourth year as a marketing intern with MRY in NYC as a brand ambassador for Procter & Gamble and am also going into my third semester as a virtual PR intern with a fabulous agency in New York, whose CEO (who knows me all too well) sent over the most perfect Christmas/New Year’s gift– a Ciate mini mani month set!

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Aaand, I just finished a follow-up interview with the executive editor of the Young Entrepreneur Council for a position as an associate editor, a position that I’ll find out tomorrow evening if I receive it or not!

So yes, I am an overachiever, but I don’t see anything wrong with that ;) Public relations is a competitive industry, and I want to make sure that I’m doing everything I can to stand out from the rest of the students focusing on PR around the country.

I’m really excited to develop this blog even further this year, both as a nail art fanatic and as a PR gal, and I hope you enjoy seeing more of my designs and hearing more about my experiences as a student about to enter the professional world.

Take care, and have a happy 2013! xo