BohlsenPR is a small, independent Indianapolis public relations agency that touts “connections, resources and reach of a global PR company.” Today, account executive Jason Gloye (@JGloye on Twitter) and media specialist Hannah Shaner (@hannahshaner) answer our questions about what you need to do to work there.
1. What do you look for when you hire an intern?
First and foremost? Someone who’s likable. We’re not being shallow; niceness and manners go a long way in an interview (especially as far as first impressions go). Be confident, lose the chewing gum and make your mama proud.
But a little more seriously: We look for passionate individuals with killer writing skills who are self-motivated and take initiative without being prodded. We’re a fun company with a distinct personality, so we look for applicants with a strong sense of self that leave a unique impression.
2. How did you get started in the industry? How can I get started?
Jason: I started as an intern at a small advertising agency. Among my assignments was an ongoing project, which was supposed to take me the entire summer. Instead, I completed it in just four weeks to rave reviews from the client, which landed me a full-time position a few weeks later. You can get started by taking pride in your work and acting like a professional from day one.
Hannah: I interned at my university’s alumni association and did some social media consulting on the side, but I knew I was agency-bound. My last year of college, I filled my free time with researching PR agencies and begging for informational interviews with industry pros, which lead me to my current job. Never underestimate the importance and respect you can gain from taking the time to learn from those who are more experienced – or the incredible power of connections.
3. What is the future of your industry?
The future of PR is like the outskirts of a solar system: it sometimes seems daunting, but then you look through your telescope and realize in awe and disbelief that you absolutely can’t wait to see what comes next. One day you’re maimed in the face with meteors and the next you’re floating effortlessly through the galaxy, but the thing you know for sure is you’ll never get bored.
In other words, it’s vibrant and exciting. With the integration of social media into marketing and the need to differentiate clients from all the “noise,” every day presents a new challenge and ever-evolving best practices. It takes a thick skin and ingenuity, but the rewards and satisfaction are worth it.
4. What is one main thing an intern can do to make a favorable impression? To make a negative impression?
Want to make sure you get the internship? Treat it like an exam: do your homework. Research us, spend time on our website and then demonstrate that you’ve done that, without being obvious. And if you’re in a social media-driven industry, always, always follow your interviewers on Twitter before the interview.
Want to ensure you don’t get an internship? State in your cover letter that you’re applying out of necessity to fulfill the requirements of your major, spell our company’s name wrong or use a “to whom it may concern” template. Seriously, you’d be surprised.
5. Give us a positive intern story? An intern horror story?
They say all PR is good PR, but believe us, all interns are decidedly not good interns. But PR’s also about learning from past mistakes, so it wouldn’t do us much good to sit around the campfire telling intern ghost stories (although it would be fun). Instead, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Be polite. Don’t rely on your stellar resume alone; a rude candidate will most likely find herself in the “no” pile before she even leaves the interview.
- Be persistent (yet not a stalker). Get past the first round? Send a thank-you card. Get past the second? Send one (yes, only one) follow-up email asking for next steps. Land the internship? Don’t stop yet: frequently ask your employers for tips on getting more experience and more exposure.
- Be passionate. Most employers aren’t in their career because they stumbled upon it by accident or just need a few extra bucks, so chances are they won’t be interested in an intern who is, either. Bottom line: If your eyes don’t light up while talking about at least some facet of the field you’re in, it’s time to say buh-bye.
- Be positive. It’s easy to complain, but no office is looking for a resident Negative Nancy. Show your excitement to learn new things, to get more experience and to simply be there – and don’t forget to smile.