PRSSA Chapter Gives Future Communicators Tools They Need to Succeed in the Job Search
By Gisselle Bahena
DePaul’s PRSSA and Ad Society recently co-hosted a career workshop event named, New Year, New Me…New Resume. The purpose of this event was to give students the opportunity to enhance their professional materials and skills so they feel confident as they apply for summer internships and post-graduation jobs. As two organizations that provide networking opportunities, organized site visits, and career workshops for members, both DePaul College of Communication student groups were ecstatic to partner together for their first event of the new year.
Students in attendance learned from four different rotational career workshops, presented by industry professionals. Jill Stewart, DePaul Adjunct Professor and Writing Coach/Consultant, spoke to students about how they can write compelling and creative cover letters. Amy Do, Career Community Advisor at the DePaul Career Center and DePaul alumna, shared the best tips and tricks to excel in an interview. Daryl Layson, Corporate Communications Manager at Neiman Marcus Group, presented his insights on how to successfully network and build your personal brand. Lastly, Emma Donovan, Vice President of Corporate Communications at Golin, provided her insights on building an agency-ready resume.
Each of these professionals shared compelling advice with students. From learning how to write a narrative cover letter to forming a supportive network, every student left with valuable knowledge that they will continue to use throughout their professional journey. Reflecting on the advice that was given, here are four tips that students and recent grads should keep in mind as they start applying for any internships or jobs:
Make The Connection (and Keep It)
Daryl Layson, himself a LinkedIn genius, explained to students the power that the social network has to build your network. With an emphasis on building connections, he cautioned that young professionals need to be intentional when initially reaching out to potential connections – not just “spray and pray.” It’s important to find those individuals that are relevant to you, your background, and your desired outcome by using LinkedIn’s advanced search filter. Most importantly, you need to maintain the connections you eventually make. A simple reaction, comment, or message is all it takes to keep your connection with a professional relevant and alive. A coffee chat once in a while merely sweetens the deal.
Practice, Practice, and Practice
Interviews are not easy, but Amy Do’s tips and tricks helped build students’ confidence. The DePaul Career Center professional gave great tips on what to do before, during, and after landing your coveted interview. Amy put student attendees on the edge of their seats as she sporadically called upon audience members to answer mock-interview questions – something she does all the time for students at the DePaul Career Center. After rousing the crowd, she would collaboratively help improve their response to develop its full potential. This simple, yet useful activity showed students the importance of practice and the value of mock interviews. Practicing with a friend or career advisor like Amy is a great way to build your confidence and ace an interview. After all, practice makes perfect.
Don’t Just Say It… Show It.
Cover letters appear to be a daunting barrier that stands between a student and their next internship or job. In reality, these letters are the perfect way to show the hiring managers who you are in a unique and personable way that a resume cannot demonstrate. Jill Stewart’s story-based formula for cover letters is simple yet effective: the job description + your traits = your story. She emphasized the importance of going one layer deeper in your story, not just stating your traits and skills without explanation. The acronym “CAR” is a simple way to remember this, Circumstance, Action you took, and the Result.
Keep It Simple, Relevant, and Organized
A resume is the primary way you can introduce yourself and your relevant skills to a potential employer. It can be tempting to include every experience you have to fill up your resume page. However, Emma suggested that simplicity is a better approach. Your resume must be customized based on the role you are applying for so that it is relevant to the company and its needs. She also suggests using words that help compliment your experience versus defining it to avoid over-explaining an experience you had. Remember, a resume is just your first step, you can always talk more in-depth about your experience in an interview. Keeping your resume simple, relevant, and organized is a crucial step in making sure you are making a great first impression before landing the interview.
Enhancing your professional materials and skills is not always easy. However, with a bit of practice, networking, and support, anyone can excel in the process. Thoughtful networking, in conjunction with a well-written cover letter and a shining resume will yield the interview you need and the job you want. Now, get to submitting.
If you are a communications/PR/advertising student looking for a way to put your professional skills to work, check out the PR eLevated PRSSA Midwest District Conference co-hosted by DePaul University and Columbia College Chicago this March.