By Amelia Friedrichs, Fundraising Chair
Those were the words that echoed through my head as I walked away from my first interview for a summer internship. Amazingly enough, I found out shortly after my interview that I earned a spot on the KKPR Marketing & Public Relations staff as a public relations intern.
I couldn’t be more thrilled.
As I look back at my interview now, it puts a smile on my face. Like most people, I didn’t quite know what to expect, but I remember it perfectly. Dressed in complete business attire with my hair neatly pulled back, I was 15 minutes early and carrying extra copies of my resume and writing samples. The president of the agency agreed to meet with me on a Saturday morning because I left school to interview, but I happened to beat her there.
I stood on the third floor in front of a locked door, thinking through certain answers to questions I might be asked. As I heard footsteps climb the stairs, I began to reorganize myself before extending my hand for a handshake. I couldn’t help but notice she was in jeans and a t-shirt, making me feel slightly overdressed.
After our introductions were out of the way and we were seated, the interview began.
“So what can you tell me about my agency?” she asked, beaming. I let out a sigh of relief. If you attend Penn State and you’ve had Steve Manuel as a professor, you know he drills this idea home. Always be sure to do research on the company or agency you’re interviewing with. At the very least, it shows you’re serious about the job you’re interviewing for. I learned this first-hand.
She listened intently, nodding, happy with my understanding of her agency. She then requested my resume.
What happened next proved to be quite an eye-opening experience. After scanning my resume, which indicated that I am pretty heavily involved at Penn State, she chose to ask me one question only. “Tell me about your involvement with PRSSA,” she said.
As I began telling her everything I could, I started to realize how valuable and impressive PRSSA truly was in the job-seeking world. Out of my entire resume, that’s all she wanted to know about. She didn’t discuss my major, my GPA, or any other club I was involved in – she wanted to know about PRSSA.
For anyone who is reading this and looking to grow in the communications field, I would highly suggest (if you aren’t already) to become involved in PRSSA. If you are, great! Be sure to highlight it! It’s not only a nationally recognized organization, but one that holds a lot of power on a resume.
The best teachable moment of this interview, however, was my boss’s response to a question I asked her. Looking to know the truth, I asked which part of the industry was most enjoyable for her. She explained in her opinion, there was always something new and interesting that demanded her creativity. She is always looking to do bigger and better things. “Why go around a rock when you can just blow the rock up?” she added.
I have no idea why this phrase has stuck with me, but I suspect it’s because of how true and crazy it actually is. I decided to approach my internship with that idea – going into everything with an attitude to start and finish with a bang – “blow rocks up,” so to speak.
Who cares if you’re overdressed? Who cares if you’re unsure of what to do on Day 1? Dress for the job you want and do the best you possibly can. In the end, leaving a positive lasting impression on your employer is crucial.
To everyone reading this, I wish you the best of luck with every internship you encounter. My advice? Start and finish with a bang!