Five Ad/PR Club students recently attended PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) Student Day in Omaha. The event was held at the Salvation Army Kroc Center, home of the Omaha UFL Nighthawks and sponsored by the PRSA Nebraska Chapter. Students from all three Nebraska Universities were in attendance, as well as students from Creighton, Doane, South Dakota and Missouri.
Omaha professionals shared what they look for when hiring potential employees. “I don’t want to be harsh, but I don’t have time to fix your stuff,” said Joleen Smith David, president of SKAR Advertising. “If I find one typo on your cover letter, all your stuff is going in the trash.” The professional panelists answered questions about their career fields, how they got their first jobs and how a new graduate can get a foot in the door.
All panelists agreed the best way into the field is through internships. “All internships are worth their weight in gold, whether they are paid or not,” said Tom O’Conner, UNMC public relations department senior associate director.
Bridget Brooks, Certified Professional Resume Writer and president of Image Building Communications, reviewed students’ resumes and gave them tips on how to get noticed. She busted myths such as a resume should only be one page long. “Showcase your skills right away on your resume,” Brooks said. “You want to get past the screener to get to the decision maker, so express your personality in your resume and cover letter.” Brooks also said internships and anyway to gain experience is crucial: “Past performance is the best predictor of long-term success.”
A recent grad panel was also organized to answer questions. Recent graduates who had landed their first jobs gave advice to students about how to actually get the first job. “I was really aggressive in my search for a job,” said Elizabeth Hilpipre, development communications specialist for the Nebraska Humane Society. “It’s really all about networking and keeping up with your experience.”
Panelists also stressed finding a job right away doesn’t always happen, and a few of them didn’t find a job for six months. “Sometimes when you graduate you feel like you deserve a full-time job, but that doesn’t always happen,” said Elena Macdissi, donor relations specialist for Boys Town.
Both groups of panelists agreed portfolios and examples of work are the best ways to showcase abilities. “In portfolios it’s best to see content, deep thinking and things relevant to the job you’re applying for,” Smith David said.
“Your portfolio speaks volumes over your resume,” said Janna Brock, communication coordinator for Elkhorn Public School District.
Todd Becka, radio personality and author of “There’s No Business Without the Show,” was the keynote speaker. He conducted mock job interviews about possible public relations situations and gave a presentation focusing on the art of personal branding.
All speakers and panelists gave students similar advice: Remember that it’s the extra things that get you noticed, and internships are some of the best ways to get your foot in the door. Just being part of an organization isn’t enough. You need to make the most of your university experience to land the job of your dreams.