Cailyn McCutcheon, Account Executive
For students, the fall semester of senior year can be a time of football games, bonfires and enjoying much needed connection with friends. For communications majors like myself, the fall semester also includes the dreaded job search anxiety as classmates in business, engineering and technology majors are securing full-time positions while the communications positions are far from opening. If you’re like me, I can’t sit still and just let another friend that has graduated, tell me to wait until March or April to start applying to jobs. Here are some of my tips for what you can be doing now to benefit you when applying to jobs later.
Find out what didn’t work, and why.
We’re the go-getters, the overachievers, the “I applied to 25 internships last summer.” However, for some of those internships, your application was off, your qualifications were inadequate or the interview didn’t go just right. I advise using this time to review what internships you applied for in the past and reflecting on what possibly went wrong. I suggest making an excel spreadsheet listing the companies you have applied for, when you applied and if you did or did not hear back. Include any other details about the process that might sway you to apply again or perhaps decide to delete that company from your list all together.
Schedule an appointment with an advisor – even though you know what they’re going to say.
Career advisors are going to advise that you’re early, but that’s okay. It’s better to be early than late. Start talking to your advisor now, letting them know your interests and your past experiences. I suggest at least one appointment with an advisor in the fall semester and one appointment in the spring semester. Building a genuine bond with a career advisor is only going to help him or her learn who you are and what type of position might suit you best. I can infer that no advisor will be overly inclined to help a student visiting for the first time in April.
Start talking. Start networking.
Once you have acknowledged and accepted that most jobs you are finding are looking for December graduates or alumni, or interns for the summer, reach out to your connections anyway. Now is the time to connect with a friend from your major that landed an incredible job and find out how they did it. Go on LinkedIn and stalk the people holding the titles you want and ask if they would like to chat for 20-30 minutes on the phone about how they came into their roles. If you live close to the office, invite them to grab a coffee. These informal conversations are highly beneficial, so when that job application does go live, you already know more about the company than other applicants and the company might already know about you.
Putting in the work now will only pay off in the spring!
Jessica Mancuso, Account Associate
College is time where we are able to make use of our passions by applying them to a future career. I am writing to share my experience. I am passionate about a lot of things, and was undecided for at least two years, trying to figure out what really interested me and challenged me. After some time, I came to the conclusion that my calling was “Advertising.” As a senior, I have been able to gain experience as I search for jobs that allow me to wake up every morning loving what I do. If you’re like me and need some help preparing for your future in the advertising industry, I encourage you to read further to hopefully get ahead!
Tip #1: Get involved on campus
I know that everyone says this, but Penn State has a lot of opportunities to prepare you for the future. For example, Happy Valley Communications is a great point to add on a resume because it is a one-of-a-kind experience that you’re likely not able to get anywhere else. As a member of HVC, I’ve been able to learn a lot about being an Account Associate. I have spent time creating promotional posts with real-life clients. There are a multitude of other clubs, like the AD/PR Club, the American Advertising Federation, Public Relations Student Society of America, and more that can help you see if this field is the right one for you. What’s great is that you’re also able to make connections with members who could help connect you to the right people when you are looking for a job. Furthermore, there are various clubs that need people with a passion for Advertising/PR to get involved. I am on a PR Committee for Penn State THON, and my job is to spread THON’s mission campus-wide and nation-wide. Our field is super important, and being able to apply my passion with my interests is truly a gift. I know that every club needs someone to promote them, so don’t be afraid to reach out and see if you can help out in any way.
Tip #2: Internships, internships, internships.
The best way to get experience is to apply yourself in the field. Internships have not only taught me so many skills that I will be able to use throughout my career, but they have also taught me what type of work environment I would like to be a part of and what really excites me. I wish someone had encouraged me to apply for an internship earlier in my college career because you can never get enough knowledge from actual firms in the real world. Even if the internship is unpaid, it is worth it for the opportunity to experience the job.
Tip #3: LinkedIn is your friend
LinkedIn is one of the most important social media platforms today. LinkedIn has allowed me to connect with a wide span of people who are high up in their role at companies that I am interested in. It never hurts to send them a quick message asking them for tips or if there are any positions available that they could keep you informed of. I cannot tell you how many connections I now have from people who are willing to look over my resume and help me excel when it comes to job searching. Connection is a big part of this industry, and LinkedIn has made it so much simpler! There are always workshops throughout the semester, so if you’re ready to make yourself look professional and build your “brand” — yourself — then I strongly encourage you attend one of these workshops.
Tip #4: Utilize your social media abilities
In the world we live in now, social media plays a large role in how we communicate with one another. I think that getting ahead of the game and getting familiar with different platforms will help you in the long run. In interviews, I have been asked a number of times if I have ever used a certain social media platform. Sometimes, job requirements want you to be familiar with certain platforms. Take time out of your busy schedule to play around with InDesign, to scroll through Instagram and practice scheduling on HootSuite so when your employer asks you if you’ve ever used one of these platforms to promote a message, you can honestly say you have.
Tip #5: The Career Placement Office is a Safe Place
I could not tell you where I would be without this office. I love bragging about how helpful the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communication’s Career Placement Office is when it comes to being a resource for all of its students. Without Bob Martin’s daily e-mails of new jobs looking for Penn State students ending up in my inbox, I would never have known of all of these opportunities. Their door is always open if you ever have a question for them about future careers and with resume help. They are so experienced and understand the advertising job-searching process very well, so do not hesitate to seek their guidance! All of the Penn State alumni that I have connected with on LinkedIn always give me the same tip: Talk to someone in the Career Placement Office to help you pinpoint exactly what you’re looking for. I, along with many others, could not thank them enough for their help and what they do. We are super fortunate!
Overall, you’re going to find your place in the advertising industry. I hope that my tips make you feel less anxious if you felt lost and needed some advice. Get ahead of the game and start selling yourself! There is so much opportunity around you here at Penn State, so I could not stress to you enough how important it is to apply yourself now, and find your niche. You never know where you’ll end up because of it.
Cat Simms, Account Associate
‘Tis the season to be jolly! It is officially November, which means that Christmas will be here before we know it. All of the stores have changed their main displays from pumpkins to ornaments, and in the upcoming days, Christmas music will play on every radio station. Trying to shop for a college student can be a difficult task, but here are some items you can’t go wrong with.
1. Personalized Coffee Mug
What better way to keep your college student warm, cozy, and caffeinated than by giving them a personalized coffee mug! This gift is simple with a personal touch, and is sure to make your college student smile. Cost: $10-20
2. Fleece Throw Blanket
On the topic of staying warm and cozy, a fleece throw blanket is sure to keep your college student warm on those cold, snowy nights. Plus, they’re super cozy to cuddle with while watching classic Christmas movies! Cost: Ranges from $5-30
3. A Netflix Subscription
Every college student spends a lot of their time watching Netflix, but this amount of time doubles or even triples when the temperatures drop outside. Most college students have a Netflix Subscription, so they would be sure to appreciate any help paying for the next year of access. Cost: About $130
4. Fit Bit
January is the most common time college students decide to start getting back in the gym. The perfect way to support them is to buy them a Fit Bit, which can track their heart rate, calories, steps and more. New year, new me! Cost: $125
5. Yankee Candles
What better way to spread holiday cheer than filling your college student’s apartment with the smell of a classic Yankee Candle! Bonus points if you get one from the ‘Festive Fragrances’ section. Cost: $20-30
6. Amazon Echo Dot
The Amazon Echo Dot functions as an alarm to wake your college student up in time for class, updates on the weather so they know if they need to bundle up to go outside, and allows them to make hands-free phone calls while they’re studying. Cost: $30
7. A Gift Card
If you truly can’t decide what to get, a gift card is the way to go. Some safe stores to get the gift card from are Amazon, Target, Walmart or their favorite clothing store. Cost: Up to you!
Melanie Richard, Account Associate
1. Make a standout resume specific to the position you are applying for
Your resume should be crafted perfectly to highlight experience that is relevant to tasks that are in the internship description. In order to get an interview, your resume should be able to speak to who you are without you being present. Make sure your resume has an objective section that states your goal and make sure that the goal adheres exactly to your dream internship description. Also, make sure you have multiple people proofread and review your resume. Many employers say they will not hire someone who sends a resume with a typo, even if they are an excellent candidate.
2. Dress for success
When going to an interview, it is important to dress professionally in order to make a lasting impression. Even if you know that the company’s dress code allows jeans, still come dressed in at least business casual clothes. Make sure you’re wearing dress pants and a blouse or a knee length dress and a nice pair of shoes. It’s better to be overdressed than underdressed!
3. Ask questions in your interview
Before going to your interview, you should have researched the company and have pre-written questions to show your interest in the company! Show that you are confident, enthusiastic and determined to put your best foot forward. It also doesn’t hurt to ask the interviewer about their experience and their company–people love to talk about themselves.
4. Write a handwritten thank you note
After your interview, be sure to thank the interviewer for their time and make sure to reaffirm your enthusiasm for the internship position. In this day and age, it seems that everything is electronic. Sending a written thank you note in the mail adds a personal touch that can’t be achieved through an email. It also shows that you are putting in extra effort and paying attention to detail, which are qualities that employers look for.
5. Accept your dream internship!
If you know that this position is the right fit for you and that it will further your career goals, then say yes! An internship will give you valuable “real world” experience that will not only enhance your resume, but will also shape you into a confident young professional.
Rachel Aul, Account Associate
As a busy college student, it can be hard to sit down and get right to work – especially with all the notifications and alerts present in today’s media age. Here are some tips and tricks that should help when it’s time to buckle down and get to work.
1. Set reasonable expectations for yourself
Writing a to-do list of every task that needs done for the entire week is going to feel too overwhelming and impossible to complete. Instead, set reachable goals and provide yourself with enough time to reach those goals.
2. Silence your phone
It’s hard to stay focused when your phone is buzzing with notifications. Consider turning your phone on silent, and placing it within walking distance from where you are working. That way, you will be less tempted to reach for it.
3. Stop multitasking
Research continues to prove that humans can only focus on one task at a time. Devote your entire attention to a specific task before moving on to another.
4. Grab a snack before you start
Preparing for your study time will allow you to lessen your distractions. Make yourself a healthy snack, pour yourself a cup of coffee and set up your work area. By the time you’re all set up, you’ll be ready to go.
5. Take short breaks
If you find yourself burning out, take a short break. Go for a walk, doodle or listen to some music. Be sure to set a timer for your break so you don’t spend too much time unfocused.
Liam Datwani, Account Associate
Almost every company around the world is advertising in some way. This means that there are millions of different messages being pushed onto audiences around the world via TV, radio, paper, posters, social media, internet, and more. This huge amount of clutter has come to define the advertising and public relations industry. So, the question becomes: how do you reach the audience you desire as accurately and impactful as possible? This is where research and data analysis comes in.
Many individuals inside and outside of the advertising industry do not understand the importance of research and data for insights. Beyond the historiographical research into the companies and competitors, deeper research into consumer attitudes, values, and activities are extremely important. There are entire books dedicated to this topic, including the Advertising Education Foundations book. Ironically, the clutter of the advertising marketplace is perfect for collecting data and research into this field. There are many different measurements and tracking programs on the internet that can be used to collect data and research consumers to be more accurate.
This is the main reason that companies like Facebook and Google are secretive about their data collection- because it is sold to a number of different clients including advertisers. However, buying the data is not always necessary. A number of studies have found that social media has allowed companies to simply talk with clients and understand their value systems more easily. In fact, my friends and I have used social media to do surveys and interviews into the attitudes of different consumers. Along with the traditional tracking of product sales and the historiographical research into companies, social media research refines the consumer model.
Advertising is extremely complicated at times. It requires a bit of creativity, a bit of practicality, a bit of finance, and a bit of luck. The advertisers have to always be looking into things and trying to understand the consumer as much as they understand the products they are going to sell.
Joey Nocera, Account Associate
Being a college student can stress and exhaust the body. No matter what school, students can relate to staying up late to study for that big exam or staring at a computer for hours trying to finish a paper.
College students’ brains are constantly firing on all cylinders when learning new information. Students must remember the importance of taking care of their bodies just as much as caring about submitting that assignment before the due date.
Being physically active throughout the school day, getting enough of sleep every night and having three meals a day are essential for college students. These strategies help feed our body with the nutrients and energy needed to get through each day. And, it’s even more important to take care of the brain.
Research conducted by College America uncovered a number of ideal snack foods that help fuel the brain. These snacks are sure to give college students the “brain blast” needed to get through a long day filled with classes and studying.
Whether you like them frozen or fresh off the plant, blueberries are one of the best foods to fuel the brain. Known as a superfood, blueberries are filled with antioxidants that reduce inflammation, which is proven to advance brain degeneration.
Avocados provide the brain with a number of nutrients that keep the brain healthy and working efficiently. Rich in potassium, vitamin E and vitamin K, avocados lower the risk of having a stroke. In addition, avocados improve blood flow to the brain with the omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids.
A perfect way to start the morning, eggs are one of the best types of brain food. The yolk is rich in choline which helps strengthen the visual and verbal memory parts of the brain. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so start the day off with some eggs and a side of avocado toast, giving the brain the power it needs to get through the day.
4. Walnuts & Almonds
As strong source of vitamin E and omega 3, nuts are especially helpful in maintaining the brain and nervous system functions. The nutrients in nuts can even help prevent types of memory loss and cognitive decline.
5. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate contains nutrients such as cacao, iron, magnesium, and polyphenols. Not only are these nutrients filled with antioxidants, they also help blood flow to the brain. Though it may not be a world-famous Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar, types of dark chocolate are considered to be one of the best types of brain food.
Next time you have a big exam to study for or a paper to write, consider eating these foods above!
Joana Pinzon-Coimbra, Account Executive
Resumes showcase a lot about who you are as an individual, and especially an employee. When writing a resume, you should think of it as a marketing tool to pitch yourself to potential employers. It’s a great way to “brag” about your skills and accomplishments. The point of a resume is to demonstrate your capabilities and show employers what makes you stand out from the rest of the applicants. When composting your resume, make sure to consider these essentials:
1. Use Action-oriented Language
Skills and achievements are best highlighted in a parallel structure. Action verbs and phrases should be included to present yourself as a “doer.” Make sure to avoid passive writing. Some examples of good action words are –– informed, developed, adapted, assisted, etc.
2. Include Transferable Skills
Employers look for someone with both technical/hard skills and soft skills. Soft skills include strong communication, adaptability and flexibility, work ethic, and more. These abilities can be used from one job to another and can make or break your chances of landing that position you want.
3. Showcase Your Strengths
Here’s your chance to shine! However, you need to make sure you don’t overdo it. Make sure to prioritize your advantages and qualifications. What have you done that has given you valuable experience that would help you be a great asset to any company? Any club involvements? Leadership positions? Internships or co-ops? Include all of that information in the sections that highlight your experience. But remember to keep it all in moderation. Your qualifications should be relevant to the job applied for so it all makes sense to the employer.
4. Visually Appealing
There are many resume templates to choose from. When writing your own, allow yourself to use formatting strategies that highlight rather clutter. Be consistent with the the font, sizes, capitalization, etc. Make sure the margins look appropriate and organized for the layout of your resume. The last thing to do is to print it out and confirm that everything looks the way you want it to. Printing the resume out and handing it to an employer, along with your cover letter, is the best way to guarantee that him/her will see it and consider you as an applicant. Although companies are now accepting electronically downloaded resumes, it still shows importance and prioritization when you go above and beyond expectations.
Hannah Moran-Funwela, Account Executive
Interviewing season and networking events are upon us – and you never know when and where you’ll run into that perfect networking connection. So, having an elevator pitch in your arsenal is never a bad thing.
The perfect elevator pitch is composed of three parts:
- Who You Are
Are you a student or a recent grad? Is graduation steadily approaching or do you have time to spare? Is your goal an internship or full-time employment? Establishing these facts upfront is key, it will allow recruiters or networking connections know exactly where you stand.
- What You Bring to the Table
Your experiences have allowed you to hone your skills in your chosen field – but you need to convey that to a prospective employer in a short and concise manner. Get your foot in the door and save the detailed experience examples for the interview. Pick out key tasks you’ve done in your work that make you stand out, you excelled in or you thoroughly enjoyed! These are a good way for the receiver of your pitch to understand your strengths and interests.
- What Makes You Unique
The job market is a competitive one where standing out is a must – what makes you stand apart from the crowd? Find your unique selling point and capitalize on it. Your minor or favorite club may be the difference from you landing that interview or not. Use what makes you, you to your advantage.
By Kristin Carbone, Account Executive
Every interview is different and nerves build up, but it is important to go in feeling prepared and ready to put your all into it. Here are some tips to help you prepare for that big interview:
1. ) Research the company: Get on google and search the company. Read the mission statement, stalk your interviewer on LinkedIn and find those unique factors that make you want to spend your time there. It will help you become familiar with the practices of the company and you will be all the more knowledgeable!
2.) Rehearse sample questions: Rehearse, but don’t sound scripted. Grab your friends, call your parents and ask someone to go over questions with you. It is imperative to practice and have a general idea of what you may be asked. Go over the basic questions that everyone gets asked and don’t panic when one comes your way that you hadn’t prepped for – it’s all about being able to remain calm, cool and collected.
3.) Pick out your outfit: Make sure your clothes fit you, are clean, wrinkle-free and presentable. You want to make a good impression on your interviewer and look your best!
4.) Be yourself: Interviewing can be a grueling process and it is important that you remember to be yourself.
By Maddi Price, Account Associate
From the time we enter college, sometimes even before, we are expected to build a resume colored with a variety of experiences. But, sometimes things don’t go as planned and we find ourselves farther into our college career than we’d like without that internship experience.
Lucky for Penn State students, you can gain the experience you need to fill the gaps in your resume in ways other than an internship. This includes taking more communications-focused classes that actually help you take a step forward and better your career.
Here are some of my class recommendations!
Intro to Graphic Design
This class is a great way to learn basic skills in Adobe Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator. You will build a foundation to work with in the future and depending on your instructor, you’ll create pieces to start to build a portfolio to display your array of skills to a potential future employer.
Digital Media Trends
What you learn in this class is important to include during an interview, whether it be for an internship or a full-time job. This class allows you to get your Google Analytics certification for free and teaches the concepts behind Google Analytics, giving you a deeper understanding of one of the primary methods of tracking communications campaign success.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
This class is the follow up to Digital Media Trends and goes more in-depth on tracking online progress of a campaign, specifically in the realm of search engines like Google. The course provides in-depth experience with the largest online advertising platform—Google Adwords.
You will participate in a firm-based project that gives you the same experience of business consulting for a future advertising job.
Digital Public Relations
This class gives you multiple experiences to use on your resume. The content focuses on non-paid digital activities, most importantly social media applications such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Google+, and how these activities can be successfully integrated into a communications campaign.
First of all, you become Hootsuite certified, an online platform for scheduling social media posts. You also complete the Twitter Flight School, Twitter’s free online education program.
This class provides students real-world experience with a project in which you create and/or maintain a social media site of some kind and create an analysis of successes and downfalls throughout the process.
This class is very helpful if you have no experience in the world of magazines but think you may want to work for one in the future. The class teaches you how to freelance. You build a website, if you don’t already have one, and create posts to add to it. You pitch stories to real editors to try to have your work published, and if it works, you have published pieces to add to your portfolio. I would highly advise this class for students that know they won’t have an internship but need to continue working on a portfolio or a resume.
If many of the above classes seem to be of interest to you, I would advise adding the Digital Media Trends and Analytics, Minor to your Penn State degree. For more information on the classes, visit the Penn State Undergraduate Bulletin at bulletins.psu.edu.
By Lara Good
For a long time people have been concerned about how the digital platforms and tools reduce our personal privacy. Social media platforms, such as Facebook, are one key contributor to this.
We are the ones who share our information with Facebook because we want it to know us and we want our friends to know us. All of this information makes Facebook a powerful tool for brands to use to reach us. Advertisers on Facebook have the unique ability to target audiences based on all the known information we give them, and sometimes more.
Using targeting, brands and businesses make sure their messages are reaching the most valuable audience for them. The most common type of targeting that brands use is what Facebook business calls “core audiences.” These core audiences are described by their demographics (age, gender, relationship status, education etc.), locations, interests and even trackable behaviors (like purchases and device usage). This gives brands a great power to engage the “right” audience.
It is not just about privacy anymore; there is now a new part of the debate. There is controversy over how targeting is being used to exclude certain groups from specific brand messages.
A recent incident, Facebook Business had job ads that were instructed to only target male users. This has been described as gender discrimination. Targeting such as this can help keep women out of traditionally male dominated fields. Gender discrimination is only the beginning of the issue. Age is another piece of information that could be used to exclude and discriminate people.
The Lesson: There is nothing inherently wrong with targeting and many consumers appreciate having messages that are relevant to them. However, as marketers we need to be aware of the implications of our actions and our messages; just because a medium has a capability, it does not mean that we can ethically use it in every case. We have to be sure that with the rise of more powerful communication tools we are using these tools ethically. In the digital age, often times regulation has to play catch up, and if your brand is not careful it could become the example of “what not to do.”
Vanian, J. (2018, September 18). ACLU and Labor Group Allege Facebook’s Ad Targeting Discriminates By Gender. Retrieved October 1, 2018, from http://fortune.com/2018/09/18/facebook-gender-discrimination-aclu-ads/
Tobin, A., & Merrill, J. B. (2018, September 21). How some companies’ ads on Facebook exclude women applicants. Retrieved October 1, 2018, from https://www.oregonlive.com/business/index.ssf/2018/09/facebook_ads_target_men.html