Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Takeaways from Interviewing a Communications Professional

As part of my Senior Seminar, I was required to interview a professional in Communications. I interviewed the Director of Communications in the Tourism department at the Philadelphia Conventions and Visitors Bureau. Her job is to direct and execute PR efforts for Philadelphia as a destination for tourism. Here are some of the things I learned from speaking with her:
  • Tourism PR is Not a 9-5 Job: Part of her job is to attend openings and accompany international representative to different attractions. Most of the time this happens after business hours, on nights or weekends.
  • You Can't Be Shy in PR: PR is about making connections. You have to be comfortable with picking up the phone and building relationships
  • Take on Responsibility to Gain Responsibility: If you are looking for opportunities to grow within your company, make your higher-ups aware of it. Be observant of needs beyond your responsibilities and put in the extra effort.
  • Volunteer as Much as You Can: Volunteering at events is a great way for students to make connections with important people and gain experience they can discuss with employers.
  • First Impressions Happen Before Your Interview: She told me one of her pet peeves is when people email her before an interview to ask where the office is located. The address is listed on their website, and Google Maps can help you figure out how to get there. Do your research, the small things count when making an impression!
  • Keep Cover Letters and Résumés Concise: Cover letters should be no more than one page, preferably three paragraphs. Résumés for recent graduates should also be no longer than one page.
  • List Skills that Make You Stand Out: Although skills such as knowledge of Photoshop may not seem exceptional to our generation, they are to older generations. Many companies spend money to hire contractors with these skills because no one in their office is familiar with the programs. Listing these skills on your résumé may show employers that hiring you could save them money.
  • Work on the Cheap: When you are first starting out, connections are more important than money. Jobs that don't pay as much as you want but allow you to grow and make connections are more valuable in the long run.
I hope you find these tips as helpful as I did. I also encourage all graduating seniors to participate in informational interviews- they are a great way to learn about different jobs within the industry and make connections with professionals!

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