The BU Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) and PRLab hosted their first-ever joint event, PRoActive. The event was organized to help PR students who are preparing for internships and job opportunities. The three-part event consisted of a Q&A panel with professionals in the PR field, resume and cover letter critiques, and group mock interview workshops. George Jamison (Corporate Communications Practice Leader and Recruiter at Spencer Stuart), Jenni Brennan (Vice President at 360+ PR), Christine Keller (Senior Recruiter at Matter Media Group), and Elizabeth Iannotti (Senior Account Manager at Shift Communications) all spoke on the panel.
Amy Shanler, Associate Professor of the Practice and PRLab Co-director, moderated the panel Q&A. The topics included how to stand out in the application process, what types of skills recruiters look for in a candidate, and what matters most about the first job.
Shanler: What role do cover letters and resumes play in the application process? What stands out between them and how do they rise to the top of the pile?
Keller: On your resume, it is important that you are able to highlight actual achievements you’ve had from your previous internships or experiences. Job descriptions are not enough. Attention to detail in cover letters is also huge and grammatical errors in cover letters are turnoffs. However, I do love how there is a personal voice to a well-written cover letter. We want to know who you really are and what makes you unique.
Jamison: Don’t lose sight of the fact that you are a person. You have a personality—let them see it. That personal connection helps bring you to life a little better in an ocean of resumes and cover letters.
Shanler: What is the right way to follow up after the application or interview if you have not heard back from anyone yet?
Keller: I find LinkedIn and email follow-ups to be effective. If someone is thoughtful about their message, that is great. However, if you want to get on phone and call, it should be more of an opportunity for you to have an informational conversation rather than just to ask if they have seen your resume.
Shanler: What are some skills you look for in an entry-level candidate?
Brennan: Writing experience is very important. If you can show us an example of something you’ve written such as press releases, or some media relations experience, that would really help. It’s important that you know how to write and that you can write well. Sometimes, we have a brief writing exam as part of the interview process to see your skills.
Iannotti: Aside from hard skills, one thing you can’t teach is that ‘go-getter’ attitude. You really have to have that drive and excitement come through in an interview. We like to see candidates who are passionate and enthusiastic.
Shanler: What can you tell students about the first job and what matters most?
Jamison: Not only in your first job, but also on the course of your career, everyone will make mistakes. What matters more about the first job is that you make the most of what it is. The world runs on relationships, so it is important to make those relationships and impressions during your first job for doors to open in the future.
Brennan: I agree with George. You have a great opportunity to make a good impression and you’ll never know who knows someone or who will have an impact in your life down the road.
Shanler: What other advice and suggestions do you have for students who are embarking on their internship or job search?
Brennan: Show your sparkle. At the end of the day, we are human and we just want to be able to do great work together. Come in to an interview, be yourself, and be enthusiastic. Chemistry goes a long way.
Iannotti: Thank you notes show that you’re interested, professional, and know how to put emails together. Take notes in an interview. It shows you are listening and engaged in a conversation.
Keller: Do some preparation and background work before an interview. Think about thoughtful questions because it helps show enthusiasm. Learn from your interviews, be positive, and know there will still be more opportunities.
Alyssa Espiritu, Staff Writer
Alyssa is a senior at Boston University, majoring in public relations with a concentration in computer science. Originally from the Bay Area, Alyssa is looking forward to staying on the East Coast to pursue her career. Alyssa will be joining the Adobe team as an Associate Consultant starting in September in the New York City office. In her free time, you can find her napping, eating hot cheetos, and going to spin class.