Where are they now? Kahla Spooner

When we first met Kahla Spooner she was a “self confessed coffee addict, fitness freak and loves a spontaneous adventure.” Kahla had completed several PR internships across a variety of organisations. Two years on, Kahla tells us in her own words, about her journey finding a job and the pathway she chose that lead her to landing her current job as Community & Social Media Coordinator at Fernwood Fitness
kahla

Where are they now? By Kahla Spooner

It seems like a lifetime ago when I was last interviewed for MIL but what a journey the past two years have been! Unlike most interns, I didn’t transition from University to the industry immediately; instead I have worked my way up the corporate ladder. After graduating and completing my internship with Milk PR in 2011, I found it extremely challenging breaking into Communications/PR world – even with the amount of practical work experience I had behind me, instead I opted for an alternative route.

With a passion in health and fitness I applied for a basic sales role at my local Fernwood club and within a few weeks the National Sales Manager (at the time) got a hold of my resume and called me in for an interview. During the interview stage she told me that I was over qualified for the role and promptly created a new role for me. She took me under her wing and two-weeks later I started working full-time as a National Sales Trainer with Fernwood.

With a strong desire to grow with the business and learn as much as I could, I remained committed to my role embracing and learning anything and everything that would assist with my professional development. I was fortunate to work throughout VIC, NSW and SA undertaking sales training with teams from all departments. Within a few short months my role advanced, moving into management followed by operations training and club development.

When I was working in clubs, much of my focus was based on local area marketing, cross promotion opportunities, sales training, implementation of policies and procedures, networking and brand management, all which I found to be extremely beneficial enabling my communications and PR skills to shine. The growth over this short period allowed me to learn a lot about my own capabilities and the experience truly shaped me for the better; expanding my skills and qualifications further than I would have ever imagined.

After almost two years working for Fernwood, a career opportunity arose in the Marketing department in our National Support Office. Wanting to always revert back to my communication roots, this deemed a fantastic opportunity to utalise my extensive knowledge of the business and apply for a role that nestled perfectly with my qualifications. After a three-stage interview process, I was successful and am now currently working as the Community & Social Media Coordinator for Fernwood Fitness (so yes, I actually work on Facebook and Twitter every day).

Sounds like a pretty sweet gig, right? Well it is and I honestly I can’t complain, Fernwood is a great company to work for, but managing social media platforms can actually be more challenging than many people think. My day-to-day tasks involve managing our main Facebook pages, overseeing and moderating our other club pages, managing posts for our Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest feeds, content creating, community engagement through our internal forums and social media sites, utilising analytics and insights to measure growth and performance, media monitoring, managing online campaigns and competitions, providing excellent customer service and staying abreast of new trends. Working in our head office also means I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of projects in other departments like working on-site for video and photo shoots, which is always so fun!

My advice to others taking a similar road to me is to always remember the path that you’re on. Taking an alternative route can back-fire as many people can get caught up in the financial gain of a job opportunity, get complacent and lose sight of where they started in the first place. For me, I always knew the direction I needed to go, so while I may have taken a couple of turns along the way, I ended up exactly where I wanted to be. For now this is a fantastic opportunity to learn and grow from great mentors and industry professionals and I’m looking forward to all the amazing possibilities to come.

You can follow Kahla on Twitter and read her internship post here.

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Intern Profile: Kahla Spooner

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:

“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.”

 
If you are struggling to find an internship, Kahla recommends contacting HaystacStyle 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