11th Annual Careers 101

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Pictured: Speakers Robert Johnson, Sarah Fergus, Meredith Z. Avakian-Hardaway, Danielle Cohn and Moderator Matt Cabrey.

 

Last week, PPRA hosted the 11th annual Careers 101 panel discussion and networking event at PECO Energy Hall. This year, the panel featured four previous PPRA Fast-Track Award winners who each made an impact in the field early in their careers and continue to be trailblazers in the profession. At the event you could have your professional headshot taken by Jenn Carroll Photography, and also have your resume critiqued by members of PPRA.

Careers 101 was sponsored by The Creative Group (TCG), a leader among marketing and creative staffing agencies. TCG specialize’s in connecting talented, creative professionals with companies looking to hire interactive. design, marketing, advertising and public relations talent.

The night began with light refreshments and networking. It’s always great to see new faces and reconnect with old friends and colleagues in the same room – something that you can expect upon attending a PPRA event.

Matt Cabrey, Executive Director of Select Greater Philadelphia, kicked off the panel by introducing the line-up, comprised of Meredith Z. Avakian-Hardaway, Director of Communications and Marketing at the Philadelphia Bar Association and current president of PPRA; Danielle Cohn, Senior Director of Entrepreneurial Engagement at Comcast
NBCUniversal; Sarah Fergus, Manager of Marketing Communications for the Philadelphia Flyers; and Robert Johnson, Marketing Manager at Einstein Healthcare Network.

With Cabrey’s energetic lead, the panel hit on topics including interviews and follow-ups,FullSizeRender (6) networking, professional development and fostering relationships. While the theme of the night encompassed the industries of public relations and marketing, the panel provided global insight for any student or young professional looking to further their careers. There was something for attendees at all levels to take away.

In response to an inquiry on interviewing, Avakian-Hardaway discussed her experience interviewing for her first job at DuPont. For her interview, she came prepared, she communicated and she engaged. She advised bringing with you a carefully curated portfolio and be respectful when answering and asking questions. You can take a pulse of your interviewer and, if they’re inviting, you should engage by asking questions that expresses interest, such as asking about a certain picture or object that you see in the office.

“The older you get, the more you find your passions,” shared Danielle Cohn, whose experience ranges from marketing and communications to entrepreneurism and innovation. She also recommended that one must “understand the importance of surrounding yourself with people different from you.”

Sarah Fergus reminded us that timing is everything. While professional development is all about networking and bettering yourself, it can also come down to having the right conversation at the right time. That’s how she landed her job with the Flyers, and while the hours can be grueling, she truly loves what she does every day.

“If you bank on one or two job opportunities, you’re not grinding enough.” That’s what Robert Johnson strongly advised, urging the audience to continue working hard every single day to achieve what they want in life. And once you get it? Work harder.

The night ended with a “nugget of wisdom” from each of the panelists:

  • “Do not be afraid to work for something you want.” – Meredith Z. Avakian-Hardaway
  • “Grab happenstance by the horns.” – Danielle Cohn
  • “Push harder today than you pushed yesterday.” – Robert Johnson
  • “Find something to hang your hat on.” – Sarah Fergus
  • “Value and nurture your relationships.” – Matt Cabrey

Overall, the major theme of the night surrounds knowing that with PPRA, we all have a network that supports each other.

Tyler Cameron is a public relations professional in Philadelphia and graduate of Temple University, where he studied strategic communication and business and from which he graduated in the spring of 2015. As a former intern at Slice Communications responsible for securing a number of impressive  media placements for a variety of clients, he is now officially on the team as a Public Relations Account Manager. You can connect with him on LinkedIn and on Twitter and Instagram @tdfcameron.

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Careers 101: The Headliner of Philly PR Student Networking

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Register for Careers 101 here.

Careers 101 is a networking and career advice event hosted by the Philadelphia Public Relations Association, aimed at helping public relations and communications students connect with professionals in their field. Maybe you are wondering: ‘so what?’ That could describe most networking events anywhere. What makes Careers 101 so special? Well, I could tell you that it is because of the hard work put on by the students and professionals that planned it, or the amazing quality of the panelists and networkers each year, or the amazing sponsors, such as The Creative Group, who make it all possible; but really it’s all that and more.

11 years ago, Careers 101 began as a small event at U Arts, and has since matured into a Philly PR staple for students and young professionals alike. This year, Careers 101 will be at the PECO Energy Hall on 23rd and Market Street, but in the past it has been held at Temple and Drexel Universities as well. At the event, students can look forward to meeting Philadelphia’s very best PR professionals, from the recently graduated to the not so recently graduated. This year, the panel will consist entirely of past PPRA Fast Track award winners. The Fast Track award is given to one individual each year who have made an impact on the profession early in their career and continues to be a trailblazer – so you can be firm in the belief that these panelists have only the very best to offer you. And if you’re feeling nervous – don’t.

Last year was my first time at Careers 101, and even though I’d helped to plan and host the event, I was still nervous as I walked in the doors of the building. Because I had helped to plan it, I was nervous that no one would show up or that people wouldn’t like it. And because I was (and still am) a student, I was nervous about mingling with professionals in the field that I want to become a professional in. But as it turned out, I had nothing to be nervous about. Why? Because all the older, super experienced PR professionals were once in yours and my own shoes: a PR student or newbie looking for some contacts to understand the industry. After the panel ended I picked out the first person I wanted to talk to, reminded myself that they were a student once too, and introduced myself. In fact, after about five seconds I blanked on the entire English language. Instead of any number of negative reactions I was envisioning, my conversation partner laughed, clapped me on the arm, and asked me what I thought of the panel. This opened up the dam, so to speak, and we had a great conversation and agreed to have lunch soon.

Attending Careers 101 helped me decide where I want to work after graduation, and gave me the resources to get there. I met some awesome people and created lasting connections, I heard some top-notch advice from PR’s best, and I even got free tips on my resume and a professional headshot! The Careers 101 of this year will afford you all of the same benefits, benefits that will only multiply as you attend more events, which is why you can expect to see me there again this year.

Faiz Mandviwalla is a senior at Temple University majoring in Strategic Communication with concentrations in Public Relations and International Communication. Faiz is an Assistant Firm Director for PRowl Public Relations, recently completed an internship with Bellevue Communications Group, and is an active member of PPRA’s College Relations Committee and the Temple PRSSA chapter. Follow Faiz on Twitter @faizmand and on LinkedIn here.

Careers 101: From a Young Professional’s Perspective

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As a senior preparing to graduate from Temple University, a member of PRSSA’s Temple Chapter, an intern at the Philadelphia Bar Association, and a member of PPRA serving on its College Relations Committee, this year’s 10th Annual Careers 101 event will forever be memorable.

After reading my intern supervisor and PPRA’s President-Elect Meredith Z. Avakian-Hardaway’s pre-Careers 101 blog post, I got an idea of what Careers 101 could offer and it turned out just as great as I envisioned.

Commemorating PPRA’s 70th anniversary the 10th Annual Careers 101 event was one for the books. Students and young professionals got to hear insights from the following PPRA past presidents:

  • Moderator: David Brown, Managing Director, The Marketing Collaborative & Executive Director of the West Philadelphia Alliance for Children.
  • Bill Cowen, President, Metrospective Communications LLC & Professor/PR Program Director, Villanova University.
  • Bonnie Grant, Executive Director, Greater Philadelphia Life Sciences Congress.
  • Cathy Engel Menendez, Communications Director, PECO.
  • Lisa Simon, President, Simon Public Relations Group, Inc.
  • Mark Tarasiewicz, Executive Director, Philadelphia Bar Association.

There was definitely much to be heard from the panelists and moderator, so much so that #Careers101 was trending on Twitter from all of the attendee tweets. Attendees also had the opportunity to have their resumes critiqued, their headshots taken and 10 lucky winners won shadow days and informational interviews with local PPRA leaders. Careers101Tweet

The event was held at The Liacouras Center on Temple University’s Main Campus, but Temple certainly was not the only school represented at the event. Students from La Salle, Stockton, Penn State Abington, Drexel, Villanova, Rowan and Monmouth universities were all present. This definitely made the event that much more rewarding. It is always a pleasure to have the opportunity to network with students from other universities that share the same passion for PR as you.

The panel kicked off with a pop quiz about current events. This started the conversation on a great foot, directly relating to a major topic the panelists couldn’t stress enough. “You should know the local media and consume it every day,” said Lisa Simon. Mark Tarasiewicz said, “If you’re not well-read, Houston we have a problem!”

As a PR professional, it is our job to be “in the know” at all times, simple but vital advice. Knowing what’s going on locally and nationally is beneficial in so many ways. Not only does it give you topics to talk about while at networking events, it will also set you apart. If you can comment on important issues that are happening, professionals will recognize that. It shows that you care and it’s helping you learn and grow as a young professional.

“If you ever take your career seriously it should reflect on your social media. Add an element of advanced maturity to your social feed,” added Mark Tarasiewicz. This definitely hit home for me and probably most of the students and young professionals in the audience. Your social media can reflect your maturity level.  Being the generation that grew up with social media, it is easy to forget how much of an impact it can have. Bill Cowen also stressed the importance of maturity and emotional intelligence, which as a young adult can often be our weakness as we are taking our first steps into adulthood. “Emotional intelligence will serve you better than anything … become a storyteller!” said Bill Cowen.

The inevitable questions, “What do you want to do when you graduate? Where do you want to work?” Careers 101 helped ease those questions for me and hopefully a lot of other students. You may not know exactly what your calling is but as David Brown said, “Early in the industry, try everything.” All of the panelists expressed the importance of putting yourself out there. “Figure out what you are really good at, what gets you really excited. Credentials they matter, but performance is what will really define your career,” said Lisa Simon. Bonnie Grant added, “I want to see how you solve problems, that you can be a part of solutions.”

“If you’re resilient, you’ll be indispensable.” – Cathy Engel Menendez.

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All of the panelists gave amazing advice and provided me the reassurance I needed as I am about to graduate and embark into my adult life. Joining PPRA and having the opportunity to be on the College Relations Committee and help put together Careers 101 was beyond beneficial for me. As I am approaching graduation and meeting more and more PR professionals, it seems as if the [PR] world is getting smaller, especially in the Philadelphia area. Networking is extremely important and Careers 101 was a great platform for any student or young professional interested in PR.

Your Career is no joke and it’s time to start it!

Cara McArdle is a senior at Temple University majoring in Strategic Communication, concentrating in Public Relations and International Communication. She also interns at the Philadelphia Bar Association, is a PPRA member serving on its College Relations Committee and a member of PRSSA’s Temple Chapter. Follow Cara @CARAmel_appless on Twitter and connect on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/caramcardle.

How To Nail Your Next PR Job Interview

With graduation season upon us, countless college grads will now be making their way into offices around the country (and the world) to interview for their first “real” job. There are some basic tips to keep in mind when interviewing for any type of job, and then there are others that change based on the industry you are trying to enter.

A recent PR Daily article, “5 boxes to check in a PR job interview,” shares several things that you should keep in mind during your next interview. While these tips are particularly helpful for new grads, they definitely hold true for those already in the industry as well.

  1. Media: Still part of the discussion. Experience with media relations is still very important. If you haven’t had the opportunity to work directly with the press yet, you should at least have a working knowledge of the media landscape.
  2. Do you fit the company? First, you need to make sure you really research the company you are interviewing with and understand what they do. A quick glance at the website doesn’t count. Second, you must make sure you can relate your experiences to the duties of the job. Yes, it’s great that you studied abroad and did volunteer work, but how will those experiences translate into real skills that you can use on the job?
  3. Does the company fit you? Interviewers don’t just want to hear about how their company is a good fit for you. They also want to know what YOU could do to help the company.
  4. Defend/animate your resume. Chances are, the person interviewing you has already read your resume. So, you better be ready to explain what you have listed on it. Bringing examples of your work also helps.
  5. Find your voice before you get to the interview. A conversational “middle ground” is needed for a successful interview. Sometimes it can be tricky to portray confidence without coming off as cock (or even bored). Practicing your interview is always a great way to help find the correct tone and demeanor.

What else do you consider or keep in mind when going into an interview for a job in the PR/communications industry?

 

What It’s Like To Help Plan PRSSA’s National Conference

National Conference, where to begin? It all started last summer when Drexel’s PRSSA chapter found out we could submit a bid to host this year’s conference. Because I was originally planning to study abroad this summer, I contributed to the bid but wasn’t planning to be a part of the Conference Committee (how could I help plan a conference from Italy?).

Flash to after our chapter presented the bid in California at last year’s conference and won. There was a gap in the planning committee for Programs Director and I had to take it! My name was submitted with the rest of the planning committee, and we were officially the new hosts of PRSSA’s 2013 National Conference.

Last fall we spent time gathering information on potential speakers, finalizing the conference’s theme (we went with “Foundation for Innovation”), and prepping other materials for our first in-person planning meeting with PRSA headquarters. In February we spent two days at the Loews going over conference details, discussing speakers, thinking about logistics, and outlining our promotion plan.

After our in-person meeting, the following months consisted of more speaker research and outreach, thinking about how our socials would pan out, and lots more. Our committee held bi-weekly meetings as well as frequent conference calls with headquarters. Not only were we figuring out who should speak at the conference, but we also were doing outreach for sponsorships…you can’t host a five-day conference without a budget!

As time ran low with the dwindling summer months, we started to have weekly meetings and biweekly conference calls. Then, the weekly conference calls kicked in. By this point, say mid-September, most of our speakers were confirmed as well as sponsors – minus two or three final confirmations.

October was packed with finalizing volunteer schedules, weekly meetings, more conference calls, coordinating entertainment, picking up swag bag items, and much more!

October 24th hit and I found myself moving into the Loews for a six-night staycation. Aside from coordinating the Friday night social, introducing speakers, and managing the hospitality desk, our committee networked and connected with peers from around the nation. One of the best parts of PRSSA is all of the connections that can be made during national events.

Being Programs Director was a huge responsibility, a lot of work, demanding, and also a lot of fun! Seeing conference attendees learn from professionals, connect with peers, and enjoy Philadelphia made the year-long commitment worth my efforts.

This is a guest post written by Ian Michael Crumm. Ian attends Drexel University and serves as Vice President of Drexel’s PRSSA chapter. When he isn’t busy with school and PRSSA, Ian also runs his own blog, where he posts about all things fashion.