Become your own client

Become your own Client

Transitioning into my senior year, I realized that I needed to brand myself as the perfect candidate for any internship or employment opportunity. The economic climate not only requires job seeking students to search high and low for open positions, but also requires students to further differentiate themselves from other candidates.  

Sherrie Bakshi wrote in PRSA’s Blog, ComPRhension, about building your own personal brand by marketing “your skills and qualifications to your internal and external clients, as well as your peers.” I agree with her advice and created my own list of personal branding tactics.  

Create a website showcasing YOU. The internet has a global reach, which can be an amazing tool in showing potential employers what you have to offer. When I was looking for a summer internship, I bought a domain name and created a simple website displaying my portfolio, résumé, biography and contact information.  When professionals asked for samples of my work, I just sent over the link in an e-mail. It is easy to do, shows that you are proactive and is more effective than attaching several documents to an e-mail.

Utilize social media in PR terms. Instead of updating your status with college drama or tweeting about last night’s wild party, utilize your accounts like a professional. Retweet interesting PR news or pose questions to your followers initiating a dialogue. A potential employer will be impressed if they find your Twitter account and see that you pay attention to changes in the field and current events.  They would also trust you to manage their social media accounts after seeing the fantastic job you have done with yours.

Freelance work is the key. After working with a non-profit client in one of my PR classes, I sought out other opportunities to hone my skills and add to my résumé. I created some promotional materials for businesses in the area, wrote press releases for a jazz production company and worked at some interesting events. Some were paid and some were not, but the point is to gain as much well-rounded experience as possible.

Network. Network. Network. In Miami there is an endless amount of Tweet ups, networking events and communication professionals mixers. This summer I attended a couple of them and made so many new contacts. The professionals were surprised and glad to see me take initiative. I asked for business cards, distributed mine and followed up with an “It was so nice meeting you” e-mail the next day. Thanks to a PRSA Communicators event, I landed another paid freelance job.

This guest post was submitted by Alexa Ferra. She is currently a senior at the University of Miami. She is majoring in public relations and sociology with a minor in marketing. Alexa is the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) President for the University of Miami Chapter. You can find her on Twitter here and view her website here.

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Congratulations to PRSA Miami’s Newest APR!

Congratulations to PRSA Miami’s Newest APR!

Charlotte Donn, Associate Vice President, Marketing and Communications for YMCA of Greater Miami

Here’s what Charlotte has to say about the process. She offers some practical advise for professionals who are interested in obtaining their APR:


How important for you was it to obtain your APR?

It was important to me personally so I could prove to myself that I actually do know something about Public Relations. I am not university trained, and joined PRSA 8 years ago on the advice of my CEO when I admitted I didn't know anything about PR. He suggested PRSA as a way to learn. Between PRSA, working in PR for the Y, and working together with some great PR firms, I final felt I had the experience necessary to sit for the exam.


What was the experience like?

I waited a long time to consider it. As I am a "client" I didn't think APR was intended for me. It seemed it was for people in PR firms. So I went to the orientation and asked, and was assured that it was appropriate for me as well. Sandra Fine, APR was there, and offered to help anyone who needed it. I did reach out to her on several occasions through the process, from the Readiness Review and Panel Presentation, to how much to worry about the book study. I also posted a couple questions to the PRSA's national web site and accreditation groups. I did not do the online study course, instead using the free resources, 2 books on the list I purchased used on, and one book from the library. You don't have to spend a lot of money, just be resourceful. From start to finish, I took about 6 months. I took the week off from work before the exam to do intense study after several months of reading and note taking. I finished the exam with plenty of time, and they give you initial results as soon as you complete it. The whole process was reassuring, and I learned a lot about the planning for and scope of public relations.


Any tips and recommendation for anyone interested in pursuing their APR?

Take it seriously, and take your time. Don't count on the books for the digital / technology parts of the exam. Books are very outdated on this subject. Use the Readiness Review as your learning process for the bulk of the exam. If you nail that, you are half way home. In a professional world where jobs are still being lost, take every opportunity for an edge on your competition. APR is one was to put yourself ahead of the rest.


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