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: Emma Bedson

Wow. Has this girl got an impressive PR internship CV or what? 

528183_10151985304627119_290829293_nRead about Emma Bedson’s various PR internship experiences and see which company she highly reccomends for interns.

The Basics: 

Emma Bedson, 20, currently studying a Bachelor of Communications (Public Relations) at RMIT, graduating in October this year.

Dream job?

Top boss at a consumer PR agency. Or perhaps Founder/Director of my own PR agency. The possibilities are endless…

You’ve had a busy interning life over the past year, tell us about your internships

Two Birds Talking 

My first internship was at Two Birds Talking. I was the typical PR intern -running coffees, media kit packing, phone handling, booking and receiving couriers, editorial monitoring, database updates and so on. I assisted on a couple of events for Kookai and Nike. Whilst I liaised between their Melbourne and Sydney office during this internship, I had a chance to work at Two Birds Talking’s Sydney office as a fill-in PR co-ordinator. I hit the ground running at that time working directly on Kookai and Lovisa. If there is anything that I got from Two Birds Talking, it was MEDIA IS KING.

One Green Bean

Throughout the first half of 2012, I confirmed an internship with One Green Bean. I saved up for six months to pay for accommodation, flights and living expenses to intern full time with One Green Bean. During this time I prepared press kits and coverage reports, assisted with the production of events and performed admin and ad hoc office duties. I worked on a number of clients such as IKEA, Dunlop Volleys, Virgin Mobile and CBA. One Green Bean definitely showed me the difference between Melbourne and Sydney based PR.

Undertow Media

I interned with Undertow Media briefly before going to Sydney last year. On my return, I came back as a contractor to assist their account co-ordinator on Mt Hotham, Kathmandu, Tupperware and Domaine Chandon. It was at Undertow Media where I learnt what the role of a junior PR professional is really like. I pitched to media on a daily basis, refined my writing skills, contributed to campaigns, proposals, brainstorms and meetings. I was also responsible for account administration & reporting, which inspired me to write my third year undergraduate thesis on PR measurement and evaluation.

Mango/DDB Melbourne 

This has been my most recently internship. Having vast industry experience prior to Mango, the team delegated tasks to me not usually given to interns. I worked across a number consumer accounts creating, pitching and following up media materials. I secured multiple pieces of coverage both in print and online. I spent an extra week at Mango working with their social media team to create content and see how social media runs within a PR agency.

What was it about working at a Sydney based PR company that attracted you? 

I researched a lot of agencies in line with the area of PR I’m interested in. Most of them are based in Sydney so I emailed a couple of dream agencies for an internship placement. I have previously lived in Sydney and have friends who live up there so making the temporary move up there was more exciting and thrilling than daunting. I loved the entire experience and would do it again in a heartbeat. Moving up to Sydney permanently after I graduate is high on my to-do list.

How did you juggle university course work and paid work while interning? 

It’s challenging but it can be done. I wrote a lot of to-do lists and time management was crucial. I will admit there were more than a few all-nighters to get the assignments done but I managed to juggle it all. In fact, I actually prefer the adrenaline rush. It makes you more accountable to your tasks and there is no room procrastination.

What was your most valuable internship experience so far and why?

My time at Undertow Media was the most valuable experience, especially when I was contracted to assist one of their juniors.

I immediately felt part of the team the minute I stepped into the office. I gained a strong sense of responsibility and accountability for everything that was thrown at me. My time management skills were definitely tested (a crucial skill to master so I advise to get on top of it ASAP). Nonetheless, I completed tasks with a passion because I wanted to prove to myself and my colleagues I could handle agency life.

Undertow Media taught me so much about the industry and how to operate in PR. I recommend Undertow Media to anyone interested in a PR internship, I would safely say they have one of the best internship programs around.

Tell us about your favourite client pitch you got to work on and what you learnt from it

McDonald’s has been one of my favourite accounts to work on. I really got to own a project where I wrote media material, pitched to journalists and secured multiple pieces of coverage. I was able to learn how to develop relationships with journalists (a true love-hate relationship) and refine my writing skills. It was so rewarding seeing coverage and knowing you had some input in making that happen.

What’s next for you? 

I don’t have any internships confirmed for the near future but you never know what’s around the corner. Right now I’m focusing on completing my thesis and graduating but I’m sure I’ll slip in a few more placements before graduating.


Emma shares her advice for other aspiring PR pros;

There have been so many quotes to get me through my interning ‘journey’. My mum told me this quote just before cold calling an agency and it has resonated with me ever since:

“Sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage and I promise you something great will come of it.” – We Bought A Zoo

For anything you want to achieve, it’s always going to be ‘no’ until you ask. No matter how whimsical your ambitions may be, throw yourself into the deep end and you never know what may come out of it. 

You can follow Emma on Twitter and ask her any questions about her internship CV. Emma Also reccomends interning at Undertow Media – click here to apply. 


Top 5 tips for interns from a PR pro

Dig&Fish13_3957About Angie Bradbury 

Founder and Managing Director of Dig & Fish.

A leader of best practice marketing and communications programs for the food, drinks and leisure industries for more than a decade, Angie currently chairs Wine Communicators of Australia, and is a member of the Victorian Food and Wine Tourism Council and Starlight Children’s Foundation Advisory Board.

With a reputation as a straight forward, direct and pragmatic strategist who always pushes for the better answer or solution, Angie is the brains-trust for Dig&Fish, instilling best-practice operations and leadership across the entire way we do business.

Angie’s TOP 5 TIPS for Interns:

1.  Take the initiative – the best interns make themselves indispensable by getting involved, asking good questions and becoming important members of the team.  Be positive and get involved, it really helps.

2. Can do – just say yes and get stuff done, again the more value you add and the better experience you are going to have.

3.  Ask – it’s not always easy to know what interns want to get from the experience so ask to get involved, ask for help and ask for information and learning.  If you do points one and two then companies will be much more likely to provide education and knowledge opportunities

4.  Add value – in media and comms if you’re asked to do the media monitoring then read with a purpose and add value to media lists, update contact details and identify opps that might be relevant for the employer and / or their clients.  If you think things can be done better or differently, speak up.

5.  Be organised – communicate your timetable and exam commitments well in advance – don’t make yourself really useful and then not be there when you’re needed or change plans last minute.

You can tweet Angie at @digandfish if you have any questions.


Intern Update: Isobel Loschiavo

Isobel Loschiavo has been a very busy intern.

Since we last met, Isobel has interned at two other PR agencies and has recently landed herself a job as a PR Assitant. Isobel will be juggling PR work plus her final year university studies. How does she do it you ask? Find out below…  

Tell us about what you’ve been doing since we last heard from you

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The last time I spoke with MIL was mid last year and I had just finished an internship in Sydney at Burson-Marsteller. Since then I have completed a month long internship at Ogilvy PRin Melbourne and an internship at Flourish PR. I am also now officially a member of the Flourish team as PR Assistant, which really is a dream come true.

You’ve just finished an internship at Flourish PR – tell us about what you did there

Flourish was amazing. I definitely hit the intern jackpot! The Flourish girls are the most incredible mentors a young PR student could ask for. They made me feel so welcome and were always so encouraging (and still are!). I am forever in their debt for the way they have influenced me along my PR journey.

Of course I had to do all the usual intern jobs. But it was definitely worth it. Day to day I had to read newspapers from Melbourne and Sydney finding coverage on our clients. I would assist the girls in making follow up calls on pitching they had done, make media kits and doing research to name a few tasks.

I was also given the most incredible opportunity to attend the concerts of some of our clients. I got to see Guns N’ Roses, Chris Isaak, Guy Sebastian, Apia Time of My Life Tour and Aerosmith twice. Here I was able to interact with photographers and see how everything happens behind the scenes. I was also given the

most amazing opportunity by my boss Angela to go with her to assist at Chris Isaak’s press interviews at Club 23.

You’ve had some amazing internship experiences –  tell us about your application process

For me the first thing I do is to research agencies. I will never apply for an agency that doesn’t stand out to me. Whether that be in the way of their clients or even just the vibe I get from their social media sites. Once I have applied, if I get asked to come in for an interview I make sure I do further research about the company and their clients. You never know what they will ask. It’s all about being prepared for anything.

Congratulations on your transition from intern to employee – how do you plan to juggle it with your final year at university?

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Thank you. I am very happy. To be honest, it’s not something that ever crossed my mind as being difficult. I definitely love being busy so it’s very exciting. I will initially be doing three days at Flourish PR so I will be able to get to uni and also have time for assignments.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learnt along your intern journey?

Two simple words: work hard.

It’s something both my parents instilled in me but it’s only now I realised the true meaning of working hard for what you want. I would also stress that you need to make sure you are doing everything you’re asked to do. Even if you think it is boring or not something that interests you, just give it your best shot. Also ensure you show your passion for the company. Don’t be fake but if you truly love the agency you are interning for, don’t be afraid to dive in headfirst and prove to them that you are worth keeping.

If you could write a letter to yourself before you began your internship journey, what advice would you give yourself?

Be confident, believe in your own opinion or ideas, never doubt yourself and stay passionate.

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My Interning Life wishes Isobel all the best.

Flourish PR are currently looking for a PR Intern in their Melbourne offices. Find out more here


My Interning Life: Contributors

Hi Interns,

Please welcome to the My Interning Life team Remi and Isobel who will be contributing to the website, social media pages and the upcoming MIL event.

I’m really excited about how well My Interning Life is going so I need all the help that I can get! You might remember Remi who was my very first featured intern on this blog and Isobel who moved to Sydney to intern.

About Remi

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@remikins Assistant Victorian State Manager for Live Below the Line.  In my final year of PR at RMIT, I’m a lover of good food, cheap cocktails and cute dresses.

“You have brains in your head.  You have feet in your shoes.  You can steer yourself any direction you choose.  You’re on your own.  And you know what you know.  And you are the one who’ll decide where to go…” – Dr. Seuss

Previously a coffee girl at Glamourflage Cosmetics, Milkk, Style Counsel, and now, The Oaktree Foundation.

Dream job? Somewhere I can use my PR prowess and fabulous communication skills to make a positive contribution to society.

About Isobel

296845_10150854865005294_532365293_21310454_1319469924_n@isobelloschiavo Currently an intern at Ogilvy and Flourish PR. I am also about to enter my final year of PR at RMIT. I am a social media junkie, self-confessed Kardashian expert, iPhone dependent, shopaholic with an addiction to coffee and dreams of living in NYC. Follow me on Instagram @isobelloschiavo.
“If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try.”
Previously an intern at Burson-Marsteller and law student at VU, I now spend my days as a counter girl at a retail job in between interning.
Dream job? PR at NBC in New York City.

Intern Profile: Anne McGaffigan

 
All I can say about this weeks featured intern is WOW. 
 
Anne McGaffigan is a Pace University student at their New York City campus and she is a super intern. She’s currently interning at a match making events company but she’s also interned at Cosmopolitan Magazine, Staff International, Massey Knakal and for designer John Varvatos. 
 
 
The Basics
headshotFull Name: Anne McGaffigan
Age: 20
University: Pace University – NYC campus
Expected Graduation: May 2014
Dream job? 
My dream job is to be CEO of a major public relations firm in the fashion industry such as KCD Worldwide or even my own firm. In order for that to happen, I hope to be director of public relations for several fashion designers after college graduation.
Tell us about your previous intern experiences
My first internship was with a show room in NYC called Staff International. I worked directly with the Vice President of Communications for the labels Maison Martin Margiela and DSQUARED2. My daily tasks included sample trafficking, show room merchandising, checking editorials for credits, and at the end of my internship my supervisor taught me how to write a press release. I loved this internship because I worked at the same desk as my superiors and I was able to see the day to day tasks that a show room and PR department complete. While I was at Staff International I also worked on a bridal fashion show for Anne Bowen where I created the design of the invitations, confirmed RSVPs, prepared seating charts, and made sure everyone entering the show was on the guest list. During this time I also interned at a theater company in their wardrobe department.
Next, I interned for Cosmopolitan Magazine in the fashion department. Cosmo was really great for many reasons. My main responsibilities included checking in/out samples, organizing two closets full of designer clothing and accessories, and assisting on photo shoots.
After Cosmopolitan, I interned at a real estate firm called Massey Knakal. I was once again in the PR department and I genuinely loved every second of it! My supervisor was an incredible mentor and she really guided me through every task. At Massey Knakal I wrote and posted press releases, assisted with a press conference, checked editorials for clips, routinely updated press contact lists, drafted weekly PR blasts, and posted on the company’s blog. I really enjoyed Massey Knakal because it seemed like they valued their interns and wanted to make them feel part of the company culture.
After Massey Knakal, I interned with fashion designer John Varvatos. At John Varvatos I was a Special Events and Marketing Intern. I updated guest lists for events, sent out invitations to celebrities, chose photos of sponsor products for marketing projects, and assisted at the VIP fashion week party – Which was an amazing experience!
What was your favourite task while interning at Cosmopolitan Magazine? 
My favorite moment at Cosmo Mag was definitely assisting on photo shoots. We would have one or two feature shoots every two weeks and it was very exciting! I would set up for the shoot, lay out accessories and garments, and basically assist in any other ways possible. The shoots were in rented out penthouses in Manhattan and they were absolutely beautiful. It was incredible to be able to see the way the photos in a magazine come together. Then when you get to look in that month’s magazine and you see the picture that you helped make happen…It’s a really great feeling!
You’re currently interning at a NYC Match Making events company – tell us about what you do there
Currently I intern at a matchmaking and events company called Sunday at Noon. So far, I have had a great experience! I have a lot of hands-on assignments like competitive analysis, writing press releases, and the big project that I am working on is the creation of a promotional video for the website. I work in the same space as the CEO and associates so I get to see exactly what being a matchmaker is like. I hear her talk about dating, what to do, what not to do, love, and life. I’ve definitely absorbed some great advice already! I also start a second internship next week with a company called Urban Daddy which is a lifestyle website providing people with the best places to go and things to buy. They also are known for throwing large-scale promotional parties. I will be working on Special Events and Projects.
How do you juggle interning, attending university and having a social life? 
In NYC, the intern industry can be insane! Everyone in the city is driven, hard working, and talented so it can be a real challenge to define your competitive edge. Sometimes whether you get an internship comes down to your availability because there are so many great interns here looking for amazing opportunities to break into an industry.
Juggling two internships, a full time course load, and being class president is no easy task! It can be difficult in terms of scheduling personal appointments and meetings because I am busy from 9am to 9pm every day, and then on weekends I typically do a week’s worth of homework. I make sure I take a few hours out of my week to write and meditate. It’s important to schedule some me-time into your life so that you can really appreciate everything that you have and remember why you work so hard. I also love yoga and working out to relieve stress. Staying organized is a key factor in maintaining success when you are doing a lot of different things. I write everything down in an old-fashioned agenda even though I own an iPhone.
Tell us about your blog, ‘The PR Intern’
It is www.nycprintern.com and you will find posts about my current internships as well as my personal thoughts about intern life. I have posts about NYC fashion week, interview attire, and the controversial topic of unpaid internships. I would love for you to take a look.
How beneficial is social media such as Twitter and LinkedIn when it comes to finding internships? 
Twitter is a great tool for networking because you can connect with millions of people across the globe. Personally, I do not use Twitter for my business life but I love LinkedIn! I like to keep my Twitter and Facebook private so that I can “socialize” with my friends without it reflecting on me professionally. I heard a great speaker once say, “Myspace is the bar, Facebook is the backyard barbecue, and LinkedIn is the office.”
My advice is that if you’re just starting out, don’t get discouraged if you don’t get a call for an interview right away. Finding a good internship takes a lot of patience and persistence. Also, don’t forget to network at your internship. Your supervisors are great connections to have, but if you are at a larger company, remember to always be friendly and nice to the other employees in different departments. You never know if they can help you out (or vice versa) in the future. After all, the more people you know, the more opportunities you will have.
If you want to find out more about Anne and her experience as an intern, check out her blog The PR Intern or connect with Anne on LinkedIn