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Dear Steven: I've got my degree in communications. I did a summertime internship with a small PR firm near my university. Now I'm trying to schedule interviews with larger PR agencies in my home city. Do you have any tips for my first 'real world' job interview? -- Best Regards, Feeling Fidgety

Steven R. Van Hook

      Steven R. Van Hook

Dear FF: You've probably seen some of the prolific how-to's and books on preparing winner resumes and job interviews. There are many excellent resources right on the 'net for landing your entry-level job. I'll list some of them below.

Of course you need to customize your resume and presentation to the particular needs of the employer. Each situation is different, and it will pay off if you treat each potential employer with individualized care. Research an opportunity as much as possible. Seek out company/officer profiles, news clips, past and present company projects, current issues and events relating to an agency's specialty. 

Their bottom-line question will be: What do you have to offer? Outline some of your own ideas, how you could contribute, why you're just the right person for the job. If you had some impressive results as an intern, wow your future employer with examples. And if you can't win them with facts, dazzle them with dreams -- after all, you are looking at a career in PR where substance is often secondary to style. 

Here's my best tip for a successful job interview: Keep it in mind, your interviewers are likely as nervous about the interview process as you are. They are putting themselves on the line with their hiring decision, especially for a position so out-front as a PR representative. They are inviting a stranger into their "home," and that's just plain scary. It is much easier to hire someone than it is to get rid of them. Look at the interview committee across the table, appreciate their apprehensions, and you will shine as you attempt to assuage their own fears with reasons why you're the perfect fit (if indeed you are). And if nothing else, by concerning yourself with the worries of others, your own might be minimized.

Here are a few PR resources that might help:
Jobs in Public Relations
Find a PR internship with a company, agency, or non-profit organization for your career starter. Links to employment sites and top PR agencies.

Your Future in Public Relations

Who has a future in PR, what gets you started, where to find career support when the going gets rough, and why you should even bother. Lots of details and links in this four-part article.
Top domestic and international public relations firms. Link directly to the company pages -- a great way to search for jobs and internships, and learn about an agency's areas of specialization.
Find a seasoned career guide or mentor, get resume tips, and research job-finding resources.

Wetfeet Interview Tips
A large assortment of how-to articles, from charting your job search plan to negotiating your starting pay.

Work in PR
Seeks to be 'the premier jobsite for current & future PR professionals.' Free registration required.

Keeping a lock on success takes an elusive key. Some say it's who you know, others say it's what you know. I believe long-term success is ultimately based on what you are. Hold a firm grasp on your fundamental values as you dive into the work-a-day grinder. Your employer will see it in your eye and respect it. (And the ones who don't likely won't make good employers anyway.)

Good luck and career success!

- Steven R. Van Hook

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