Q & A: How to Break Through?

Q.  I recently graduated from college with a degree in public relations. I have internship experience at an agency, have put together campaigns for numerous classes  and internships and have solely promoted and publicized a client myself.  My interest is in CSR and I have had a few  interviews with some major agencies.  However, I can’t  seem to break through.  Is calling an HR contact and requesting a informational interview a good way to personally introduce myself?   -Jared McDuffey [jaredmcduffey2003@yahoo.com] 

A.  Informational interviews are good entry points at some agencies, but normally they only happen when you know a client of the firm or someone within the agency who requests the interview on your behalf.   Most HR functions are under staffed and they don’t have a lot of time to do such interviews, unless they have existing openings or are building their talent pipelines. Without seeing your resume, I suggest you may want to do one more relevant internship as a way to get a foot in the  door at an agency.   Increasingly, agencies are hiring interns right out of college, working with them for several months and then offering them jobs when a staff position opens.  CSR is one of the hardest places to land an entry-level position since that function is in its infancy and normally clients are expecting to work with  senior-level practitioners.  That’s why another internship in a corporate practice where CSR is practiced might work best for your strategy to land a job in this area.

Q.  Please help clarify this question as I am constantly receiving a varity of answers.  In order to get your foot in the door at a bigger agency (Ketchum, Edelman, etc.) is it necessary to first obtain an internship position?  Are the larger agencies more likely to overlook you if you have not had an internship with their company, even if you have interned elsewhere? 

A.  It is easier to move into a full-time PR position at a larger agency if you interned there, even if you have had a couple of other internships.  It all depends on the position that is going to be filled.  If your past internship provided specific training necesary for an open position, you might be able to bypass another internship.  However, existing interns within that agency generally will have first dibs on such openings. 

Q.  Hello, I would first like to say your website his highly
informative and very motivating! I am a recent grad with a degree in PR and a previous agency internship seeking a job with an agency in the Chicago area. I have appied for many internship and entry level positions but haven’t heard back from many. After recieving a confirmation email or none at all, when is it appropriate to call the agency about the position? Or, after a submitted resume,what’s the next step?   -K. Kraft

  I know how frustrating it is to not hear back from agencies.  From my vantage point, there is a flood of resumes after graduation and most of the intern/entry-level positions already are filled, so the recruiters and HR teams don’t respond as quickly because they’re working on other positions and/or bringing on summer interns.   My recommendation is to send one more email since the first may have been buried.  Then, call a day after sending that second follow-up email.  Don’t wait too long to place the call or they won’t recall having seen the second resume.  Most major agencies have someone who focused on entry-level and intern positions, so you also should make sure you are sending to the right individual. 

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