I recently had the pleasure of serving on a panel at Elon University for the iMedia Day of Professional Development & Networking. It had been many years since I visited the Elon campus, and I was blown away by how charming it is. Equally impressive was the School of Communication’s facility. Within its School of Communication, Elon offers a ten-month M.A. Interactive Media program – what a great way for communication professionals to add to their skill sets in a short amount of time!
The panelists for the event included myself, a representative from another Raleigh PR agency, a recruiter from a firm in Atlanta and a former graduate of the program (now employed by an interactive agency in California.) We collectively answered questions from the moderator and then fielded questions from the students on the topics of interactive media and successfully navigating the job search. Questions included…what does “interactive” really mean? What are the most relevant tools we are using today? How do agencies incorporate interactive departments?
What really stood out to me during this discussion was the realization that there is very little we are doing these days that is not interactive in some way…and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Whether we are launching a Facebook campaign, providing hashtags for a client event so attendees can share via their social networks or creating animated graphics to be used on a trade show floor, we are interacting with our audience on some level.
The other topic we discussed at length with the students was best practices – the do’s and don’ts – for trying to land a job, and making a good impression once you have been hired. While some of these tips might sound like advice we have all heard before, what came out of the discussion was that even though things have become much more complicated, the importance of simple, basic courtesies have stood the test of time. Here are a few things the panelists shared:
- Follow up! Don’t ever hesitate to call and follow up after sending in a resume. And please send a hand written thank you note.
- Differentiate yourself. Bring samples, create a personal website, share your personal blog. We want to see your personal brand.
- Do your homework. Come prepared with questions about the company and what your specific role will be.
- Clean up your online presence. That means no graphic spring break photos!
- Proof your correspondence. Make sure e-mails and cover letters are free of grammatical errors.
- Present your best self in the interview. You have one chance to shine and make a good impression. Be professional but also be likeable. After all, people hire people they want to work with.
- Look people in the eye and dress the part. Even if the company has a casual dress code, dress up for the interview.
- Once you have started your new job, have a positive attitude! Be willing to jump in and tackle anything.
A big thank you to Maggie Mullikin for organizing the event and hosting us. Hope to join the group again next year! Whether you are a professional or a student, what does interactive mean to you, and how has it changed your role as a communicator?