Monday, June 16, 2008

Government Job Search: Part Two

The months passed by. I was getting very anxious. Since January, when I first applied I had heard nothing. It was mid May. All the effort in perfecting my resume, getting the right references, listing everyone of my accomplishments to date, was held in the balance on an online website.

Soon I would have to go another direction. It is never good to just hope for a job and wait for it to come to you and this is exactly what I was doing by waiting for this job. The time for me to go and search for a summer job, even though it may not be where I wanted, was growing daily. Until I got the e-mail and opportunity I was waiting for in late May.

The e-mail was very generic. It explained the five Ws of the job opportunity and not much else. I was excited nonetheless. Out of the hundreds if not thousands of applicants to the job bank, I had been selected by chance. Lucky for sure.

In the e-mail there was a link to be clicked on, should you be still interested in the job opportunity. I don't think I have clicked on anything so fast. Once my interest was confirmed I would be contacted at later date for an interview. Off to my interview then. Wish me good luck...

Monday, June 9, 2008

Government Job search: Part One

It is something that I have been working on for months. Dating back January of this year, I have been searching for a job in the government. To aid me in this job search, I turned to a great a PR mentor of mine, a professor in my school, in an effort to help me get the job. But would this be enough to stop my search and get a job with the government, or would this be another disappointing job hunt for me?

Unlike other jobs where you go and leave your resume on or, to apply, for my government job, I went online. It was here there was a database, which connects students to summer, part-time, and full-time positions with the government. So in January I posted my resume (filled with my job experiences in retail) to the database and waited for the results.

Before I got to this point of putting my resume in the database however, I was in class. With second semester underway and the summer still months away, I was looking for a job. The reason for this was I wanted a break from working in a retail environment. I wanted something different. A change of scenery in a work environment not in retail or even better, a job in the field of PR.

But this was something that I needed help in. I could not seem to put together a resume that would speak to these requirements by myself. So I turned to a trusted person with a vast amount of PR experience, one of my teachers at school, my PR mentor.

It is fully with my PR mentor's advice that I believe I landed the job. She was able to provide me with information of what I could expect in a professional interview, either with a PR firm or employer such as the government. By no means am I saying that an interview with a grocery store or retail store is not professional. I just mean that for a job with the government or PR firm, the preparation is similar but more advanced.

My PR mentor told me to research the company or government department (although this is hard with the government as they place you in a random department, not necessarily related to your field) to find out any useful background information. To listen carefully to the questions and speak to my experiences learned over the past semester in the program. She also told me what possible questions to expect (many of which were asked in the actually interview) and to let my personality ring through.

Would this job search end up being a successful one for me? Or would working in retail be the only reality for me during the hot summer months? I was soon to find out the answers to these questions

Thursday, June 5, 2008

PR Skill #1: Reading

Of all the PR skills that make up my PR Skills trifecta, reading is definitely the most difficult for me. I remember back in my youth going to the library with my three older siblings, coming back with maybe one or two books while they carried them home by the armful.

As a grew up, I never saw the value of lying down in my bed or on the couch with a good book. I was too busy going out playing sports with friends or playing video games. Although now I still enjoy the occasional marathon playing Call of Duty 4 on Xbox 360 or the day out in the park playing soccer with the guys, for some reason I have now made the time to read a book.

The reason for this is simple. To fully maximize my potential as a PR practitioner reading is vital, as it flows directly into what is one of the most valuable skills we must possess in PR, writing. In fact I was considering combining both reading and writing into one post, but I decided to differ, as I have much to share about writing that needs it own place.

So what turned on the light for me to embrace reading? Don't get me wrong I enjoy reading. I read the daily newspaper, sports magazines, and the like. But what I had never done since my youth till now was reading books.

Books give the PR practitioner more than just the day to day, current events knowledge that a newspaper provides, as they probe deeper into a particular subject matter. They are able to make you look at an topic and understand it in a way that you didn't think of before in an effort to increase your knowledge about it.

Now that I've cleared up my reading IQ, back to the reasons why I was able to get on the reading bandwagon like so many other of you hardcore book lovers. Firstly, the environment of readers that I'm surrounded by was a big reason for my change. It is sort of hard living in a family where reading is a top priority in so many people's lives.

However it is on the advice of one of my professors, a challenge in fact, that got me to gear up and really hit the books.

My professor gave us as a class a simple challenge for the summer. He wanted us to read. Read books about famous Canadian writers, like Margret Atwood or Douglas Coupland. Read books about writing, as he is a firm believer (like I am now as well) that your writing can improve drastically by increasing the books you read.

After mulling over these tidbits, I realized that this was my chance to do something. I wanted to try something to improve my skills, so I went for it, went to the library and took out a great book on non-fiction writing called On Writing Well by William Zinsser.

This book by William Zinsser, a former teacher of writing at Yale University, who also worked for the New York Herald, made reading this book a breeze by providing great examples of non-fiction writers mixed in which his clear and concise writing style.

By being able to read this book, which is highly entertaining as well as educational, I proved to myself that doing something I wasn't so into can actually happen...and work. Nowadays you will see me at the library picking up books for a nice afternoon read. Just don't tell that to my soccer buddies about this, ok?

Monday, June 2, 2008

PR tag

Playing the game of tag during elementary school days was a fun experience. I rarely got caught. It must have been because of my speed. Whenever there was a time I felt that I was in danger of a hand laying its touch on me, my speed enabled me to escape its reach. For me, playing tag was a youthful escape for me, a chance to roam freely, until I became "it".

Being "it" in the game of tag meant that now I became the one who had to chase the other school children across the yard. With the pressure of this task now focussed on me, suddenly the game of tag wasn't so fun.

The responsibility of chasing down 10 or more other kids, each running off in their own direction, was a tiring chore. Needless to say when looking back to the days in the yard when I was "it", I'm glad are over. But this game of tag was not done with me, with last week's time in the office full proof of that.

Most of the time at volunteering when I' m not in front of a computer, looking at the screen and losing my eye sight because of it, there is a black device I use for communication which occupies my time.

This device and I, usually get along pretty good. It helps me when I want to reach people in far places, while I return give it the utmost care that it deserves, there is no slamming it with me. However, it was on this occasion in the office where this device, the phone, and I would come to a blows. My patience would be tested through a game of tag, much like in my youth, leaving me frustrated as to where I should turn for relief.

At the sport association where I volunteer, we are currently conducting media tours country wide. A media tour is when you meet with editors, assignment editors in an effort to raise awareness of what your organization is doing.

So as an added responsibility of mine, it was my job to call the big well known media in Toronto (both print and broadcast) in an effort to try and book the chief of communications of our office (I like to simply call him chief), in our office as well as athletes which reflect our organization, in an informal meetings with these various media.

But I would be working with a hard deadline. I was to have as many meetings as I could book confirmed for the next day. With the afternoon sun already pulled in it was time to get to work.

When I got back to my desk, I jumped on the phone. My first call actually went quite well. I got a hold of the assistant to the president of a large broadcast media. I told her what we were trying to accomplish and we exchanged contact info, so the chief could go into more depth with her.

Not too bad I remember saying to myself. I was excited to be talking to someone so high up in the media. Little did I know that this would be the only excitement of the day.

Call after call, with nine in total that were made, went unanswered. I did whatever I could to get a hold of these people, spending a solid at the task. In the end all that I was left with was the drone of various voice mails, which I faintly can still hear ringing in my head. I was "it" in this effort to chase down these men and women of the media, and there was nothing I could do to catch them.

After these many unsuccessful attempts, I reported back to the chief. He was not surprised in the results. To him it was very much expected. Toronto, being the big city it is, mixed with the air of being the centre of the universe whirling around, probably played a role in my lack of success he thought.

To me it just reinforced what I have already known for some time. Being "it" in a game of tag can be a difficult proposition. But it's something that with perseverance and trying your best is all that can be done in an effort to win the game.