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.

Following Up on Networking 101 Event

 

How often have you attended a networking event, career fair or social gathering only to encounter someone who immediately asks you about your job and upon your response, ends the conversation and walks away? UGH! This is such a frustrating occurrence and the 50+ students and professionals who attended our PPRA event – Networking 101 – on Tuesday, October 6, are grateful to keynote speaker Jennifer Robinson for alternative conversation starters. She emphasized the value of asking open-ended questions on topics such as pets, vacation plans, favorite sports teams or restaurants, hometown or current events. Conversations are more meaningful this way because you are more likely to remember your new friend’s story or response. These conversations also have a higher chance of expanding the conversation’s path.

Our open format PPRA event prompted guests to ask Jennifer typically hands-off networking questions such as, “How can I break free from someone that will not leave my side?” We learned that a trip to the restroom, beverage station or a walk across the room to greet a friend are all acceptable escape methods. However, it is important to be firm in your action by having a closing statement that reiterates you enjoyed speaking and mentions your next intended move, such as going to “x” across the room. Then you HAVE to go to “x” across the room to appear credible.

Before your next networking event, remember not to:
– Interrupt the conversation of a group you just joined
– Pitch your product, service or resume
– Ask for a meeting
– Attempt to give out 50 business cards
– Stay chained to your friends you arrived with

There will be time for pitching yourself or service and asking for a meeting after you know this new person better. Remember, the purpose of networking is to build value, show expertise, establish a referral base and increase your visibility factor.

To achieve your set purpose, revisit these “Do” items before your next networking opportunity:
– Arrive early
– Prepare ahead by reading about speakers, registered guests and company sponsors
– Bring business cards
– Connect with the event on social media prior, either by following a Twitter Hashtag or following the event posts or speakers
– Visualize your conversation starters and write them down to review beforehand

Post Event Follow Up
Your success at each event is directly related to your post-event follow up. We learned the best follow up happens when:
– You reach out within 24-72 hours
– You remind your target where you met
– You send something of value that they expressed interest in, related to a conversation you had (example, contact information for your freelance graphic designer)
– You include a personal touch in your note, such as commenting on a mutual interest

After our Networking 101 session, participants speed networked by rotating to seven different tables to meet 14 professionals from a broad cross section of the communications industry, including sports / entertainment, healthcare, hospitality, corporate, agency, nonprofit and academic / higher education.

Our event at the CBS Broadcast Center was full of energy and participants left enthused and optimistic about future networking occasions.

Networking Resources

Jennifer Robinson Book Recommendations
Give and Take by Adam Grant
Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi

LinkedIn Relationship Tools
15 Ways to Keep In Touch (top right on home page)
Relationship Tool (your connection’s profile has a Relationship Tab under their name with space to save a note about them)

Business Cards
Low Price Business Cards Through Vistaprint

Karen Toner is a PPRA member and marketing manager at KPMG.

Photo credit: Philip Gabriel Photography
For more event photos check out the Facebook album.

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.

To work in PR, I have to do what?!

Have you ever heard the saying, “You can pay for school, but you can’t buy class”? This thought comes to mind when I think about what it’s like working in public relations (PR), but with a slight twist. I’d say that when it comes to PR, “You can pay for school, but you can’t buy finesse.”

By finesse I’m referring to maneuvering and navigating all the quirks of working in PR that they don’t teach you in school (no love lost for my awesome PR professors). So I thought it’d be fun to pull together a list of things they don’t tell you about being a PR professional. Hopefully it can help aspiring PR pros or entry-level up-and-comers ready to take the PR industry by storm.

Practice being a know-it-all
Let’s be honest; being a know-it-all has a negative connotation. Yet in PR, it’s a must. In this profession it’s about being up-to-date on current events. This means staying in-the-know about everything from selfies and sports to Beyonce’s secret album and “The Walking Dead.” Pretty much any hot topic or trend, you ought to know about it. Why? Because as a PR person, it’s your job to know people. Specifically, what gets people talking, what makes them tick and what ways to tap into their emotions. Putting this into practice means you should read. ALOT. Books, magazines, blogs, Twitter, Flipboard…whatever you have to do to be in a constant state of learning. And when you think you’ve read enough, read some more!

Watch out for glory hogs
It never fails. No matter what PR job you have, you’ll have that one person (sometimes two) who seeks to hog all your PR efforts just to make their own limelight shine a little brighter. They’re the colleague always at your desk to tell you about the new initiative they’re involved in or the client who calls you multiple times a week looking for yet another opportunity to get their name out there. I’m not suggesting it’s a bad thing when others share their PR ideas. But when it’s for personal gain instead of the benefit of the organization or brand, that’s when you need to put on the breaks. You’ll be able to spot the glory hog rather easily as their PR ideas tend to have one consistent theme: it’s all about them!

And definitely watch out for PR wannabes
To non-PR people, your profession is a sexy one. Think about it. You’re the gatekeeper between an organization or client and the masses. You coordinate rockstar events that create buzz to help enhance brand awareness. Often, others see this and think PR is all about parties and paparazzi. The next thing you know they’re reaching out to journalists and planning events without your knowledge, hoping to get a piece of the action. Sounds extreme, but I’ve seen it happen. Keep a close eye on these types because as the PR expert, it’s your job to protect and to serve the brand, its key messages and the public’s perceptions. Watch out for PR wannabes who go rogue and could possibly end up tarnishing all your hard work.

Bone up on time management
One of the things I love about PR is that no two days are ever the same. As exciting as this sounds, juggling multiple high-priority tasks and having the ability to shift focus at a moment’s notice takes some getting used to. Learn how to manage your workload so that you a) get stuff done b) have room for flexibility and c) can still relish in and enjoy working your craft.

Be prepared to defend
Ahh! This one’s my personal favorite. The main thing I wish I knew before getting into PR is the amount of public defending I’d have to do on behalf of my craft. Since PR isn’t like sales and other functions where a direct line to revenue can typically be made, clients and organizational leaders frequently need to be reminded of the value of PR. With the amount of data that’s available and tools to measure PR efforts, it’s up to us to deliver. For more on this topic, have a read at my previous post Communicating the Value of PR: Stop Dodging, Start Measuring.

What are some of the quirks about working in the PR industry you wish you’d known before starting your career? Tell me about them in the comments section and how you’re using finesse to navigate and maneuver.

Andrea Carter is a Public Relations Specialist at AWeber, a certified news junkie and an aspiring world traveler. Check out Andrea’s back story here then follow her on Twitter @SheLuvsPR and connect on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/carterandrea/.