Two weeks ago I wrote a post about my internships and a question I possed to Ron Culp. I found his answer very helpful and am feeling great about where I’m standing right now. One thing that was mentioned is that it’s important to let people know how you came to be where you are. I really can’t believe I didn’t mention this more but I’m going to give you the overview of how I got the two internships I am at currently. Honestly, I always enjoyed reading how people got to where they are now so here it goes.
I will start with my internship at Sidney Maxwell as the time line is a bit longer. First off all I have to say is GO TO CONFERENCES, I can’t stress enough how important it is to go out and meet people in the field. That’s exactly how I landed the gig at SMPR. I’m not the most outgoing person in the world (shocker I know) but I pushed myself to go to a networking dinner at the Chicago PRSSA regional conference that was hosted by DePaul University back in February.
During the networking session we had ten minutes at each table with a local PR pro from Chicago. As our groups moved around we could pose questions to the professionals and vice versa. Michael Shmarak, the principal of SMPR, posed a question to our group; what is public relations? Now for a bunch of PR students we should have been able to spout something off quickly. Most did and it was the standard “be able to communicate goals, intentions etc with target audiences.” As the question was going around the table I though ok, how do I stand out in this pack? I came up with my answer pretty quickly, “one of the aspects of PR to me is being able to see the big picture and develop a solution to an opportunity or problem before the rest of the public or your client realize it’s even there.” Michael mentioned that he really liked my answer at the end of ten minutes and he gave us all his contact information.
That evening back at the hotel I sent him an email just thanking him for his time and that I enjoyed meeting him. He responded quickly and said if I ever had questions to contact him. About a month later I was in Chicago for spring break and I contact Michael and asked to sit down with him and talk shop. I had a slew of questions because I was graduating in two short months. He was kind enough to take time out of his day and we met up and chatted for an hour. During that time he had something come up with a client and I was able to watch him work, he even had me edit a document and asked for some input from me. At the end of our meeting he said he would keep me in mind if he heard of any internship opportunities.
Three months later, the same week I secured my internship with Terra PR I got an email from Michael asking me if I would be interested in doing some work with him. I didn’t want to say no by any means and I didn’t want to lose my other internship so I talked with both Michael and Alli (my boss at Terra) and I worked something out where I work half the week for both.
Now to Terra PR. I was frustrated, I had applied to dozens of jobs and finally I just though I want to move to my favorite place, Jackson, WY. I looked for PR firms in the area and stumbled across Terra’s website sent Alli an email and two days later had interviewed and secured an internship with her.
So folks, I’m living proof that no matter what route you take, be it networking and nurturing professional relationships or just dropping a well written email to someone you don’t know. If you’re persistent enough (in a non-annoying way) I honestly believe you’ll achieve your goals, you will.