Posted: August 8, 2011 Filed under: Intern Profiles | Tags: Communications, Haystac, Interns, Kahla Spooner, LinkedIn, Public Relations, Tourism Victoria, Twitter, Tyrrell PR, Victoria University
Kahla Spooner is a self confessed coffee addict, fitness freak and loves a spontaneous adventure. She is also extremely dedicated and dreams of one day being a Getaway presenter.
Kahla is 21 years old and, has recently graduated from Victoria University with a Bachelor of Communications (Public Relations).
Kahla’s commitment to gaining work experience is exemplary. She has interned for several boutique consultancies, agencies and in-house PR firms.
Eight months after graduating, even with her experience, Kahla is finding the PR world a “tough industry to crack.”
At the beginning of 2011, Kahla interned with Haystac and, is currently interning with Shereen Kiddle at Milk Kiddle Langmaid PR.
Like Remi, Kahla was also surprised that many of her peers at university weren’t interested in finding work experience until they were required to in their final year.
For Kahla she always knew that in this industry, “it’s who you know, not what you know”, and says, “gaining contacts and experience was essential.” In her second year, Kahla began looking for work experience.
Although Kahla experienced many rejections, which she says became extremely difficult, “the key is to be persistent and never discouraged and eventually someone will take you on board.”
Kahla’s first PR work experience was with Tourism Victoria. Working with the team at a government agency, gave her the confidence to continue to apply for more intern positions. Kahla also said that Tourism Victoria set an extremely high benchmark because of its professional setting, work ethic and positive environment.
From the contacts Kahla made at Tourism Victoria, she was then referred on to Tyrrell Publicity and Promotions where she interned for three months.
After graduating, Kahla knew she had to keep in touch with the PR world and contacted a friend working at Haystac. At Haystac, Kahla was given the opportunity to work with Jetstar Airways for their 2012 campaign.
Through that experience, Kahla was invited to apply for a graduate position with Jetstar but was overlooked for a senior person with more experience, much to Kahla’s disappointment.
However the advice she was given by Jetstar’s senior account manager, Louise Laing, was to,
“Get as much experience as possible, you can knock on 100 doors and get knocked back 99 times, but someone will give you a chance. She also told me that the fact that [I was] willing to work for free, shows passion and dedication and that is what makes you differ from the rest.”
Within a week after narrowly missing out on the Jetstar position, Kahla started at Milk Kiddle Langmaid PR through her contact and friend, Aimee Briggs.
Each week Milkk PR provides Kahla with an opportunity to stay in touch with PR. From working on databases, compiling media kits for Sexpo, running errands like picking up a famous Collingwood player’s jumper, to writing features for Milkk PR client and Channel 10 traffic reporter, Emma Notarfrancesco .
Kahla has learnt that, “Agency work is extremely full on and can become at times stressful dealing with multiple clients and campaigns at once and boutique work is great to get a more personal hands-on experience, putting much of the skills you learn in university to use.”
Kahla’s commitment, passion and dedication have created opportunities for her to experience the PR industry on several levels. In such a broad industry, Kahla suggests that students find an area that best suits them. Multiple internships and work experience will help with finding this out. “After completing several internships, I was assured that I wanted to work in a corporate communications role as apposed to PR as such, as it’s predominately more writing based. I would also prefer to work in-house apposed to boutique.”
Kahla also says that from her internships that, “you also discover the ins-and-outs, such as ethical practices, lingo and the amount of work you should and can be doing, not just coffee runs…it’s also a time to challenge yourself and your capabilities”
Kahla also suggests in getting your name out there as many jobs aren’t advertised on Seek and that industry contacts are key. She further recommends having at least three internships on your resume, so students know what type of job they are looking for after graduating.
She also uses Twitter and LinkedIn for connecting with contacts and prospective employers.
Kahla’s advice to students who are looking to intern:
If you are struggling to find an internship, Kahla recommends contacting Haystac, Style Counsel or Spice & Soul PR, who are willing to take on interns (subject to application).
Kahla wrote some articles on ‘Wining and Dining’ for the Tourism Victoria website during her internship. You can read them here and here.
You can also follow Kahla on twitter.
“DO IT! …Experience and contacts are imperative in this industry, and start at early as you can. Don’t wait for your teacher to help you, start emailing, calling or speaking to people to get your foot in the door and learn, because you will learn more in a day at a company than in a lecture. The last thing you want is to do is graduate and say, “well, I should have just done it then.” I know so many students who had one bad experience and turned away from the industry, without realizing on how much they are missing, I assure you there’s more to it than database building!
Also, take advantage of the fact that you’re at university as many places don’t offer internships after graduating for insurance purposes. It’s also a great time because you’re career focused, and it becomes much harder to stay driven after graduating when money becomes the motivation.
I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for the people I met along the way, you never know when you’re going to need help. Always be kind, give 110% and people will remember your efforts, even if it’s not at that moment – think Devil Wears Prada! It pays off.”