By Marisa DeGennaro, Executive Director

Giving employees off on Friday is a trend that is gaining momentum in the business world and with great reason.

Employees are the backbone of every company, and as such companies aim to provide their employees with benefits that keep them happy. Giving employees off on Friday has been linked with increased employee happiness as well as increased efficiency!

When you think about it, this makes sense. If you only work four days a week, you get more time to unwind on the weekend; this may curb building resentment or burn-out. As you hold less negative feelings about working hard, you mind it less! This may lead to you working harder during those four days as you don’t get the chance to get sick of work due to always having a long weekend!

In addition to efficiency, there are many additional benefits to providing this awesome benefit! This new practice helps companies recruit better talent; with better talent comes better work comes a better company reputation! Moreover, the additional time off will help employees achieve personal goals like fitness, spending time with their family, and taking time for themselves!

The moral of the story is everyone loves a long weekend, and there are many positives to providing your employees with Friday off.

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By Alexis Komatsu, Account Executive for The Italian Concierge

There are so many different programs and platforms that communication professionals use on a daily basis to manage the online presence of clients. Many of these programs offer training courses as well as certification exams for individuals to take advantage of. If you are considering working in communications, consider these industry-recognized certifications to add to your resume.

Hootsuite

Hootsuite is a social media management platform that allows users to schedule posts and measure performance. Hootsuite offers free training courses through their website. The courses touch on everything from engaging with prospects to running effective social media campaigns and contests. The 65-question certification exam then tests users ability to use the tool.

Microsoft Office Specialist

The Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) certification is offered for individuals who want to indicate their skills and proficiency within Microsoft programs. Those who chose to pursue this certification can choose to test in one, or multiple programs. Knowing how to efficiently use Excel or how to put together a killer PowerPoint presentation goes a long way in this industry.

Google Analytics

The Google Analytics Individual Qualification allows individuals to demonstrate their strong knowledge of the program to potential employers. Google Analytics is used to measure advertising ROI along with many other critical marketing KPIs. Google, Lynda.com and many schools offer free online training courses for the free exam.

 

In an industry that is constantly changing and evolving as new platforms and tools emerge, it is so important to continuously learn!

By Caitlin Gailey, Director of Staff Relations

Even the most prepared communicators will find a career fair daunting. The pressure to make a good first impression with 30 seconds or less is immense and can leave many wondering what recruiters really are thinking. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to sit down with a college recruiter of a Fortune 500 company to ask her honest questions about the recruiting process. She not only shared with me the typical do’s and don’ts of a career fair, but also provided me with great insight into the mind of a recruiter.

Time Does Matter

One of the first questions I asked was does it matter what time you arrive. While she said it doesn’t truly affect the impression you leave, earlier is always better. For many recruiters they are standing and talking from beginning to end, with very few breaks in-between. The entirety of the day can be exhausting and if you want to stay in a recruiters mind the earlier is better. They are more likely to engage in a longer conversation and remember you.

Have Good Manners

Before jumping into your pitch it’s important to remember that recruiters are people too. The Fortune 500 recruiter said one of the easiest ways to make a great first impression is to ask about their day. It not only is a less uncomfortable way to lead into a conversation about it shows compassion on your part. It’s something that will show your true character and in many cases impress the recruiter you’re speaking with.

Cut It Short

There is such a thing as a pitch or a conversation that has gone too long. Recruiters are aware when someone is trying to stretch out a conversation; in fact sometimes it can be quite obvious. It’s important to leave a great impression but also to know when the conversation has come to a natural end. Recruiters are there to get to know you and to assess your fit for a company, but that doesn’t mean you have the right to monopolize their time.

Don’t Be Nervous

This is easier said than done. However recruiters can tell when you are uncomfortable or unsure about what you are talking about. Instead of dwelling on nerves put your best foot forward and represent yourself and all your hard work. Recruiters find confidence to be reassuring and something that makes you stand out.

Resume And Pitch Matter

Recruiters are aware that people have different strengths, so many don’t put all their focus into your pitch or your resume. While some people may be more comfortable speaking others may better illustrate their accomplishments on paper. With that being said it’s important to properly prepare your resume and pitch for prospective employers. Even if your strength is in one particular area recruiters can notice effort and that’s what matters.

By Sarah Vlazny, Account Executive for PSU Engineering Abroad

Most rising seniors who study communications probably hope to get a job in the communications field— whether it be working in public relations, media, or advertising. A select few of us, however, may find ourselves looking for and applying for jobs that aren’t traditionally considered to be “communications” positions.

This was exactly the position I found myself in last fall. I am an economics and public relations double major, and a year ago I decided to apply for economics-related positions for the first time. The internship I ended up accepting was in economic consulting, seemingly having nothing to do with public relations or communications whatsoever. However, what I quickly learned over the summer is that good communications skills are valuable no matter the industry or position. Here are some ways communications students can leverage their skills in any job, field, or industry:

Write a good email. The one thing I’ve found to hold true for any kind of office job is that a tremendous amount of communication is done over email. I’ve also found that writing an email that is clear, informative, and concise is not as easy as one might think. Those who have studied communications have a unique edge in this area— most of us having taken classes like News Writing and Reporting (COMM 260W) that teach us how to determine what the most important ideas are and write about them succinctly and clearly. This is a skill that is valued in any workplace environment, and one that definitely won’t go unnoticed.

Communicate well with your supervisors and coworkers. I think most company human resources departments would agree that many workplace issues that arise are at least partially due to a lack of communication. Maybe a supervisor didn’t clearly articulate what was expected of an employee, or an employee didn’t ask questions to clarify what their responsibilities were. One thing I found to be invaluable this summer was to not be afraid to ask my managers for clarification about any assignments or deadlines, and to make sure they knew what other tasks I was juggling or any difficulties I was having. Those who have studied communications know not to underestimate the importance of open and honest two-way communication.

Understand the importance of a compelling narrative.  One thing communications students learn in almost every communications class is how to “tell a good story”. This applies to news writing, public relations strategy, and even advertising campaigns. I was surprised to learn how well this knowledge translates to other industries outside of communications. My company this summer did mostly quantitative work— interpreting and analyzing data on behalf of their clients. One thing they found was that while it is extremely important to do empirically sound work, it was almost equally as important to be able to “tell a good story” about the quantitative work that they did. Communications students know that most people are more responsive to stories that are compelling and persuasive than they are to facts and statistics. This holds true no matter how quantitative the work may seem, which is why good story tellers are valued in every industry.

Overall, I was surprised and excited to find that the skills and attributes that make a good communications student are applicable no matter what you end up doing after graduation. So for those rising seniors who, like me, find themselves applying to jobs that aren’t strictly “communications” positions, the time we spend sitting in classes like COMM260W was certainly not wasted.

Happy Valley Communications is now accepting fall 2017 applications for account associates. HVC is a great fit for any student at Penn State who wants to grow their communications skill set—here’s why:

Real experience—no experience necessary

If you’re looking to build up your communications portfolio, look no further than HVC. There are plenty of opportunities to do graphic design, writing, research, strategic planning and branding work—all for real clients. You’ll also learn specific skills from workshops and other firm members. Speaking from my own experience, I learned how to properly construct a press release from HVC before I learned how to write one in a PR class. HVC is open to students of all majors and class standings—including non-communications majors and freshmen. All that’s required to apply is a passion for communications-related work and a willingness to grow and learn.

Build your portfolio and your resume

Every year, HVC offers multiple openings for account executive positions, where you’ll get to lead your own team, as well as director positions where you’ll help manage the whole organization. There are also consulting positions available, where you’ll work on smaller client projects in a more independent setting. There is no minimum experience level to apply for one of these leadership positions (only that you’ve been a part of HVC previously in some way), and they look great to potential employers.

Professional growth

By being a part of HVC, you’ll have the chance to work on professional skills like networking, interviewing, personal branding and more. By building off of the experiences of upperclassmen, underclassmen especially can get a leg-up on job search preparation. At HVC we love to help each other out, and that extends to our large network of former members that work for major companies and agencies across the country.

Completed applications, along with a resume and fall class schedule, are due Friday, September 1 at 10 p.m. to Happyvalleycomm@gmail.com. Feel free to reach out with any questions to the above email address or on social media. We will also be available at the HUB lawn involvement fair on Wednesday, August 23 and the College of Communications involvement fair on Tuesday, August 29.

Account Associate Application – Fall 2017

By: Max Campbell, Account Executive

With my summer internship coming to a close in the next two weeks, I have had some time to reflect on the past year and how I ended up at a company that was nearly a perfect fit for me. To say the path here was easy or stress-free would be a bold-faced lie, but I can’t say I didn’t learn some things along the way that greatly benefited me for the future. With summer coming to an end, the job search is likely the last thing on student’s minds, but time flies at school and there is never a bad time to start looking ahead. Here are five tips to provide some guidance for rising sophomores and juniors who will be in the same position I was in a year ago.

There is never a bad time to start searching. When looking for jobs it doesn’t hurt to apply to as many as you possibly can. That means starting early. I dedicated about 15-20 minutes a day in the fall semester doing research on jobs and internships and applying to many as well. Even if you get the classic “Sorry, we are only looking to hire for the winter,” the worst thing you did was make a potential contact for a few months down the road.

Seek any and all guidance. It never hurts to ask for help. Whether it is from an older friend, a parent, a teacher, people are happy to lend a few minutes to give advice. No one is truly an expert on the job search, but getting many perspectives on a daunting task like finding a summer internship is extremely beneficial.

LinkedIn is your friend.When I started my job search I had no idea where to even look for internships. By using LinkedIn I was able to not only search for jobs anywhere, I was able to find people in advertising and set up calls for advice on how to go about the job search.

Be persistent. If you get into contact with a person from a company, do not be afraid to reach out to them with questions. You may feel as though you are being annoying, but most people will understand your position and will be willing to help. Don’t go overboard, but checking in once every month or two doesn’t hurt.

Never turn down an interview. You may apply to jobs and realize it is not the best situation for yourself. This doesn’t mean you should turn down an interview if given a chance. You may find out they have a different position open, or you may get helpful advice. The people interviewing you are giving you their time and attention, so having a conversation is worthwhile.

The job search is stressful, but by using these tips can help it feel less daunting. As for myself, I’ll be applying these as I search for a full-time position this year.

 

By Kendra Paro, Director of Business Affairs

Trying to equate past work experience to working in “corporate America” seemed like a daunting task. Previously, I had only worked jobs dealing with children and had no office experience –I had no idea how to navigate my way around a fortune 200 company for a whole summer. Here are a few things I’ve learned throughout my time at a big company:

Ask a lot of questions. In meetings, to your coworkers, in any situation you can, ask questions. It shows that you’re paying attention, eager to learn more and it helps you understand the way things at the company work.

Bring a pen and paper! If you don’t already, always keep a notebook in tow and write down as much as you can. You can reference something someone said, write down questions to ask later and keep yourself more organized. Try to take notes in a respectful way when someone is telling you something, but be sure to take notes that you’ll be able to understand later (or why take them at all?)

Build relationships. Just simply talking to other employees and finding things in common can go a long way. If you’re searching for a full-time position when you’re an intern, you want as many people as possible to vouch for you if warranted–even if it’s just to say that you’re an enjoyable person to be work with. Even if you do a great job and get amazing work done, it won’t matter unless the people you work with like and remember you.

Work hard. Even if in the end you did something wrong but it was noticed that you worked as hard as you could to get there, it will look positive. Don’t be on your phone throughout the day and don’t slack on your duties. People notice when you aren’t doing what you’re supposed to be, and one bad interaction can last.

Fake it ‘til you make it. Let’s face it–in every job, there are going to be times when you have no idea what’s going on. I had many instances when meeting with high level employees or attending important meetings where clear expectations were not readily laid out. By simply observing people around you and acting like you know what you are doing, it can help others take you seriously as a professional instead of just an intern.

When you’re in a new environment surrounding by new people, it can be tough to navigate situations perfectly. Being in a big office as an intern might seem like you’re the lowest on the totem pole (which is true), but it’s not the worst thing in the world. Being an intern is a great excuse to not know what’s going on—and that’s totally okay. Use your status as an intern to learn as much as you can, ask hundreds of questions and be a little clueless at times.

By Sara Salter, Director of Consulting

This year is turning out to be a bust for many summer festivals. Karoondinha, a Centre Hall first-year festival slated to have many big names like Chance the Rapper, Paramore and John Legend, has been added to the list of unsuccessful festivals that have caught the attention of news outlets recently. A few months ago, we all witnessed the disaster that was Fyre Festival, as well as the cancelation of Canada’s Pemberton festival last month. Karoondinha, looking to be held late July at Penn’s Cave & Wildlife Park, caused a PR storm when then they took down the festival’s website and deleted their Twitter account in late June.

The festival had lots of promise–co-founders Paul and Kaleena Rallis went to great lengths to ensure that the festival had an impressive lineup and ample marketing by hiring four different agencies to get the job done. So, what went wrong? It all comes down to low ticket sales and high costs.

Ticket sales were estimated to exceed 25,000 but drastically fell short where Rallis suggested they should have projected for 8,000 instead. It’s easy to see that this misstep in addition to the budget for marketing, nearly 20,000 per agency, as well as the cost to pay for the featured artists spelled doom for Karoondinha.

Crisis often brings out a brand’s true colors and from a PR standpoint that can make or break a consumer’s loyalty and prevent them from ever coming back. For a brand in its infancy, this was a blow to Karoondinha’s reputation. In the crises spectrum, the founders handled things decently as they collaborated with Eventbrite to refund everyone’s ticket purchases, apologized, and offered complete transparency when interviewed. They remained hopeful that maybe Karoondinha is just postponed – until when is still a mystery. Either way, it remains as a reminder that having big names doesn’t guarantee a festival’s success but rather a sustainable business model and proper PR management can make all the difference.

By Lara Good, Account Executive

Before my internship this summer, I never considered writing a blog for LinkedIn. However, it was one of the first things my manager suggested I do this summer when he assigned me to do a writing sample for him. It was a great assignment, and I learned a lot in the process about how to do it and the benefits of blogging.

Utilize pictures. Having an interesting cover photo for your blog increases the likelihood of somebody engaging with it. Photos or videos can also be used to break up the text within a blog.

Less is more (within reason). Most people on LinkedIn do not want to read a long, drawn out blog. Keeping it between 500 and 800 words will help you keep it short, while also helping you practice being concise and precise.

End your blog with a call to action. Keep it simple–for example, “Comment about your experiences, and feel free to connect with me.” This will drive up the number of people who will like or comment on your blog and you might even gain some connections.

Have a plan for sharing your blog. Know that when you post your blog it will appear in the news feeds of all of your 1st connections. When any of these individuals comment, like or share, the blog will then expand beyond your own network. A great way to get engagement is by reaching out to mentors like professors or bosses and sharing the blog with them personally. It’s a great way to foster that connection, as well as increase the likelihood of them sharing it to their connections.

The last (and most important!) question–what do you write about? Choose something relevant to working, your career path, your network or something that you could be considered an expert in. Personally, I don’t feel experienced enough to call myself an “expert” on anything, so I wrote about my current internship. I also learned that even though your subject might be general, it should be written from the perspective that only you could write–one of the easiest ways to do this is with anecdotes!

It may be scary to write your first LinkedIn blog, but it is great practice and great experience. Go write and connect!

 

By Marisa DeGennaro, Executive Director

If you’re like me, hearing the “S” word (senior) is bittersweet and a little scary. Suddenly, we are thrown into the real world of paying bills and finding a career. That can seem daunting, but planning may keep you (a little) sane as you end your college career.

Stay Organized

Searching for a job after college can be a job in itself. Tailoring your resume, researching companies and making time for interviews can leave you exhausted! Make the job search easier on yourself by staying organized. Having an updated resume and cover letter that can be easily tailored is a good start. Over the summer, take the time to map out possible companies you want to work for and do some research; be sure to take notes to reference back to as job fairs roll around. Maintain a list of application deadlines and networking events so you never miss an opportunity!

Manage Expectations

I am all for dreaming, and dreaming big for that matter; but, it is important to realize there may be some steps between you and achieving your goals. Probably one of the scariest things I have seen are seniors getting internships instead of full-time positions after graduation! However, it can be better to find an internship because of the better insight you’ll gain of what a full-time position with that company will look like (not to mention it’ll make your chances greater for receiving a full-time position offer).

Look for Mentorship

There is a reason why everyone asks about the company culture during the first interview. How your company manages itself has a huge impact on your career. People are getting busier and busier, meaning there is less time for mentors to teach and enrich. Find a company that is capable of proper training and willing to make the time investment in you. Don’t forget, you are choosing the company just as much as the company is choosing you!

By: Sophia Nitsolas, Account Executive. Sophia was a Social Media Coordinator Intern at Philly PR Girl during the summer of 2016.

“There was no stopping it,” said entrepreneur, Kate Marlys.

A Jersey girl, who graduated from a small suburban high school in the southern part of the state, Marlys went to college up north by the Big Apple. Her first job lead her to travel from coast to coast, yet she was still in love with one city and one city only–Philadelphia.

Just looking for a way to channel the stress of the cold, corporate world, Marlys began to blog.

Little did she know that a minuscule blog on her favorite places to wine and dine in the city would be a redefining catalyst to her future.

“The blog took off, and I was being asked by many for event planning and PR help,” said Marlys.

Hiring her cousin as her accountant, her other cousin as her lawyer, an editor, and an intern or two, Kate began to embark on a new career path–heck, a new life path.

Drawing from the success of her special events blog, Philly PR Girl LLC, a full time public relations firm for event planning, social media management, marketing and promotions, was born.

Its roots were planted in rich soil from the start in a 20 ft by 20 ft office space in the Philadelphia Building, which lies in the heart of Center City. Beginning with only a handful of employees but with a network of hundreds of connections locally and nationally, Kate Marlys, 5’6 with her highlighted brown hair, piercing blue eyes, warming smile and driven nature, transformed into the Philly PR Girl.

“Is this really happening?” said Marlys throughout the entire process.

Philly PR girl is now a home for about 20 employees and interns and 50 clients.

Still located in the Philadelphia building, but now in a larger space, Marlys and the company can’t even begin to fathom when it got the chance to expand so fruitfully.

Although there are over 20 competing firms in the area, Marlys believes it is their social media presence that sets them apart.

“I always say there’s enough work for us all,” said Marlys.

Brandon Szecker, working alongside Marlys as a PR manager at the firm said, “We’re a team who’s super local and very connected with various people in the city. We have a firm pulse on everything going on.”

Missing only the time off and bonuses of the corporate world, Marlys expresses that being an entrepreneur is no easy task, but can lead to irreplaceable happiness.

Helping with the PR for the PA Conference for Women was a huge career moment for her. Her favorite event is Preakness in the Piazza, a Multiple Sclerosis (MS) benefit where guests attend with their best hats and fun suites to watch the Kentucky Derby rain or shine.

“When you work for over 6 months and pour your heart and soul into an event and then it rains, no down pours the minute your event starts,” said Marlys, “that sums up last year’s Preakness at the Piazza- but guess what? It was an amazing event that raised over $150,000 for the MS society.”

Marlys is described by one of her PR student interns, Stephanie Rocha, as someone who does not let anyone take her down. Her company has thrived on supporting other women entrepreneurs just like her.

Every day in the PR world is different, but Marlys shares that working events and being on site is her favorite part of her day. With humility and great success, Marlys credits mentoring college students to being her greatest accomplishment.

 

By Caitlin Gailey, Director of Staff Relations

In the public relations industry, who you know is sometimes just as important as what you know.  Throughout the course of our careers, we are fortunate enough to meet dozens of talented people in our industry. These incredible opportunities are something to take advantage of, not to waste. While networking can feel awkward at times it’s never as bad as you think! Here are a few things to remember when networking your way to the top:

LinkedIn Is Your Friend

Don’t overthink things and grow your network through LinkedIn. After meeting with someone at a company event or through a mutual friend, a great and professional way to keep in touch is through LinkedIn. Asking to connect with someone is always more intimidating than it seems, but it’s a great tool to utilize in your networking toolbox.  

Master The Email

Mastering emails is crucial to building your network during and after college. Whether you are updating a previous employer, introducing yourself to a potential one or thanking someone for your time, email is the way to go. It’s a short 15 minutes out of your day, but it can mean a lot to someone who wasn’t expecting it.

Everyone Wants You To Succeed

The best thing to remember when walking into a networking opportunity is that everyone wants you to succeed. Whether you are meeting someone for the first time or reconnecting those in the public relations industry want to share their knowledge with you and see you put it into practice. Their kindness is your key to success and something that you should never be intimidated by. When you walk into a room realizing everyone wants you to do well, it makes introducing yourself to strangers a lot easier.

Branch Out

Networking with people outside of your inner bubble is a great way to make unexpected connections and experiences. Reaching out to those outside of your internship department or team is a fantastic way to expand your skill set and take advantage of unique opportunities others may never have.

If you have learned nothing new about networking at least think about this. Remember back to your first day of college freshman year. Moving into a new building, a new town, potentially a new state was intimidating. However you put your best foot forward, put yourself out there and made an entirely new life for yourself in just four short years. If you can do that, you can do anything, so get out there and network.