PR Boot Camp Recap

By Eliza Williams.

Bloomington, Ind. — On Wednesday, March 25, aspiring public relations professionals had the opportunity to participate in a PR Boot Camp designed to better prepare students for the job and internship search. The event consisted of three 45-minute workshops focused on resume building, writing an effective cover letter and interview tips.

Perfect Your Resume, with Marcia Debnam

Marcia took students through common resume mistakes and blunders with her engaging presentation. She explained that the best resumes are catered to each and every position you apply for. Students can schedule an appointment with Marcia on the IU Career Development Center website. Here are some of Marcia’s tips for creating a resume that will land you a job:

Marcia Debnam, IU Journalism's Career Services Director, writes down key points about the perfect résumé.  Picture by Cat Huynh.
Marcia Debnam, IU Journalism’s Career Services Director, writing down key points about the perfect résumé. Picture by Cat Huynh.
  • Don’t include anything from your high school years
  • Avoid vague language such as “assisted with” or “helped”
    • What exactly did you do? Use powerful action words.
  • Always include tangible numbers and results
  • Include any activity that exemplifies leadership skills and teamwork
  • Don’t be afraid to include your restaurant or babysitting job (often these jobs are full of career-building skills and value)
  • Class work and volunteering count as experience
  • Keep your design clean and readable
  • Be ready to support/defend controversial content, such as religious or political organizations and affiliations, unless
  • Remember, tailor your resume to every position you apply for
  • Check, check and check your resume for spelling and grammar errors (have friends, co-workers and teachers proofread)

Write an Effective Cover Letter, with Rachel Landis

Rachel explained the components of a good cover letter and showed hilarious fictional television-themed examples of common mistakes (I especially loved the boastful letter written by Tom Haverford of “Parks and Recreation.”) She explained that the best cover letters read like expanded objective statements; they explain why you want the position and are concise, avoid flowery language, show personality without going overboard and elaborate on biggest accomplishments. Use the introduction to name drop if you can, demonstrate your knowledge of the company and explain what you’re studying and when you’re graduating. The body should be one or two paragraphs explaining why you’re the best fit for the position, how your experience ties in and what you can bring to the company. The closing paragraph should reiterate your excitement, provide your contact information and thank them for their time. A few more tips from Rachel for writing a great cover letter:

  • When in doubt, stick to modified block for formatting (standard)
  • Always address your cover letter to someone specific. If the job description doesn’t specify, call the company directly or stalk LinkedIn to find whom you should address your letter to.
  • Show that you “know your stuff” by touching on something specific that you like about the company. Research, research, research before sitting down to write the letter.
  • A good cover letter can supplement your resume and explain an employment gap
    • Chance to explain if you were traveling, volunteering or taking extended time off work for any reason
  • Never talk trash about former (or current) employers

Interview Tips and Practice, with Lindsey Hojnowski

Lindsey provided students with the opportunity to practice interviewing in a comfortable setting. We paired off and went through a list of common questions that students encounter in entry-level PR job or internship interviews. Lindsey provided constructive criticism, feedback and suggestions. She shared common interview mistakes and tips for making the most of awkward situations or handling tricky questions. She encouraged students to prepare for common questions and address them using the SPAR method: situation, problem, action and result. Some other interview tips from Lindsey:

  • Research the company thoroughly and know about recent clients, accomplishments, projects, awards, programs, etc.
  • Ask to take notes during the interview
  • Don’t be afraid of awkward silence while you gather your thoughts
  • If you feel you didn’t thoroughly or properly answer a question, ask the interviewer to clarify
  • Send a follow-up email or handwritten card thanking your interviewer for their time

PR Boot Camp was overall a fun and interactive way to prepare undergraduate students for the job hunt. I left feeling satisfied (although that may have had something to do with the three slices of Mother Bear’s Pizza I ate), confident and ready to launch my career.

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