20 ways PR students can beat the winter break blues

December 6, 2009 at 3:31 pm 8 comments

With the semester’s end approaching, many PR students will take the next few weeks to regenerate before Spring Semester.  However, just because you’re on break doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be doing your homework! Here are some things PR students can do during break to maximize their job search:

  1. Update your resume. Assess what you did over the past semester that would be worthy of your resume. Also, prioritize what you should keep on your current copy. You should be updating it about every six months.
  2. Clean up your portfolio. Add projects from the past semester and reorganize the contents. You may also want to look at your past projects and edit them. You will be surprised how much your writing can change within a semester.
  3. Visit a PR firm or job shadow a PR professional. Contact a PR firm or PR professional in your area and set up a few hours for you to come in and watch a day of work. If they say the office is slow because of the holidays, ask to come in for an informational interview instead. Many PR professionals work right up until the holidays.
  4. Research. Look up information on companies that you may want to apply to once you graduate. Create profiles of each company so that you can refresh your memory when the time comes to apply.
  5. Start planning. Look for summer internships and mark the application due dates in your planner. It may also be helpful to create an “internship list” so you can view dates at a glance.
  6. Blog. Start a blog about your thoughts about PR, about your job search, etc. This makes excellent practice to informally enhance your writing skills. If you already have a blog, make an effort to post two or more times a week during break.
  7. Do -it-yourself PR plan. Conduct a four-step PR plan for for a local company or non profit. Present your plan to the company or non-profit after the holidays for the chance of freelance work or internship/ job opportunities.
  8. Be a news hound. Read several newspapers (print and online) every day and watch national and local news stations. Discuss current events with friends and family and impress them with your worldly knowledge.
  9. Write your own news. Write a local news article, feature story or opinions piece. Edit it and make sure it conforms with AP Style. If it’s good enough, send it to your local newspaper for the chance to be published.
  10. Perfect your pitch. Practice by writing pretend pitches for a “client.” Learn the beat of different journalists to help you discover different angles for your pitches. If you’re new to pitching, research good and bad methods of pitching and learn from them (many can be found on The Bad Pitch Blog.) Since it’s the number number one complaint about PR pros, it’s better to practice now before you have to do the real thing.
  11. Review what you learned. Brush up on your old PR notes from past classes. You’ll be surprised how much you have forgotten already.
  12. Become a social media superstar. Learn how to use social media, such as twitter, effectively. If you already do, ask yourself, “how can I do this better?” and engage even more.
  13. Do your winter reading. Read PR books such as Putting the Public back in Public Relations by Deirdre Breakenridge (@dbreakenridge) and Brian Solis (@briansolis) or The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR by Al Ries and Laura Ries.
  14. Get organized. Sort through all of your graded assignments, notes and handouts and file them in a file folder or cabinet. Do the same on your computer with any e-copies.
  15. Back up your hard drive. Think about all the assignments, projects, resumes, cover letters, photos, music, etc on your computer. Now think of all of that disappearing within one minute. Feeling motivated yet?
  16. Use a new technology such as Google Wave, Skype, etc.
  17. Use a new device such as Kindle, Smartpen, GPS system, etc.
  18. Use a new software such as InDesign, Microsoft Publisher, etc.
  19. Go shopping. Fellow PR hopeful Rachel Esterline (@rachelesterline) has a great list of items on which a young PR pro can spend their Christmas money.
  20. Have some fun! You don’t want to be burned out before semester even starts, do you? Find a balance between work and play during your winter break. It will keep you energized and motivated for the upcoming semester.

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8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. lmnovo  |  December 6, 2009 at 8:21 pm

    This is a great, elaborate post! I actually had the same idea last week and wrote a (much shorter but) similar blog. Yours puts mine to shame, but I’m looking forward to sharing it on Tuesday 🙂 I love your idea to write your own news and perfect the pitch – those are two tips that didn’t come to me! I hope you have a great winter break!


  • 2. Robin Luymes  |  December 6, 2009 at 10:01 pm

    Great post Mikinzie! I do hope students spend a little time on #20! It’s important to take care of your physical, mental and emotional health, and spending time with friends and family and recharging batteries is important. But even if students only do a third of these great ideas, they will have had a productive winter break and a jump start on their final semester (especially if they’re seniors!).

  • 3. derekdevries  |  December 6, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    Great suggestions. If anyone is feeling ambitious, I’d add another:

    21. Manage Your Online Reputation:

    Start by googling yourself (or if you really want to blow your mind, try http://www.pipl.com) and seeing what content comes up first. Unless you have a really common name (think John Smith), ideally some positive content about you should come up in the top ten results. If not – get to work claiming your digital identity (particularly if anything unflattering or negative comes up).

    Start by grabbing up your domain name [yourname].com, .org, or .net – it’s fairly inexpensive nowadays (registrars like NameCheap.com cost less than $10/year) even if you don’t have a website (you can set them up to redirect to your Twitter feed, blog, Linkedin profile, etc.). Then make sure your domain is indexed by the major search engines (http://bit.ly/8iJy1B) and do some rudimentary SEO (search engine optimization) by letting friends and colleagues know about your site and asking them to consider listing you on their blogroll if it’s topic-appropriate (don’t be obnoxious about it, though).

    If you only have limited time, Google is probably the best place to focus your efforts, as it has around 90% of the search engine market share. If you have time, however, see where you’re listed with Yahoo/Bing and work to optimize your presence there.

    If there is negative info about you in the top ten – take steps to try to remove or minimize it (particularly if it’s incorrect or defamatory). There’s no guarantee you’ll be able to get rid of it (particularly if it’s just unflattering as opposed to defamatory), but it doesn’t hurt to try. Google has a tutorial on how to work with them in handling such content: http://bit.ly/1bzPa

  • 4. Brian Solis  |  December 7, 2009 at 3:42 am

    Excellent post…great advice! Thank you for including our book too!

  • 5. wgunjan  |  December 7, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    @derekdevirs – a very interesting suggestion !!!

  • 6. Pete Voss  |  December 7, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    Really great advice! I wish someone had shared this with me when I was back in school. This is all really info to get in front of the competition. Thanks for sharing!

  • 7. steve fox  |  December 8, 2009 at 9:07 am

    Great ideas. I like the additional suggest by Derek, too. In fact, in the future I might even suggest doing a “20 top things…” that only lists like 13 and then leaving the rest up to the commenters to fill in…. It’s a great way to collaborate!

  • 8. inzainy  |  September 8, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    Wow, this is extremely helpful. Thank you thank you!


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