Freestyle Creative’s president, Kelley Gann, spoke with students at the University of Oklahoma this spring to share tips for building your resume and getting a fantastic internship. Download the slide deck here. With the new school year right around the corner, it’s the perfect time to freshen up your resume, network, and get out there to find a great opportunity to build up your experience!

Here are some of the highlights if you’re a student or young professional on the search for a great experience-building opportunity.

Internship Glossary

You’re working to get some great experience on your resume, but are just getting started. Here’s a great place to start.
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Job Shadow

Don’t have an internship on your resume yet? Reach out to professors, advisors, your local PRSA chapter, industry groups, friends and others in your network to see if you could shadow someone in your field of study for a day. Some local groups like PRSA OKC have an excellent shadow day each year to help students gain valuable insight into the day-to-day of the job.

Internships
Have some great coursework or a job shadow on your resume? It’s never too early to put yourself out there and start applying to internships so you can spend several months gaining valuable experience. (Some internships are paid, some offer course credit, and some offer a scholarship or stipend.)

Freestyle Creative has a variety of internships starting up in August (in Account Services, Design, Social Media, Digital, and Video Production). Head on over to our “Careers” page to apply!  

Fellowship
After building some good internship experience on your resume, some places offer paid, post-graduate internships – a great opportunity to get your foot in the door with your dream company.

Part-time / Contract Work
Part-time, hourly work or freelance gigs are also a fantastic way to build out a personal portfolio. (It’s also a great way to get your foot in the door for potential full-time opportunities!) An increasing number of people in the marketing/creative world are now opting solely for freelance work because it allows for more freedom in their schedule. We also work with some highly-talented contractors for certain projects!

Finding Internships

If you’re on the search for an internship but aren’t quite sure where to start, here are some tips.

  1. Industry Groups
    Check out local industry groups and job boards like AMAOKC, OKC Ad Club and PRSA. They typically update job boards with companies that are hiring for internships and job opportunities. (These groups can also introduce you to great companies that may not have been on your radar before and can help expand your search.)
  1. Work your network!
    Reach out to your contacts (professors, advisors, friends, classmates, and mentors) to see if there are companies they recommend — or better yet, if they can make an introduction.
  1. Career Fairs

There are some great Career fair opportunities. Check out events held on campus and those hosted by your local Chamber of Commerce and industry groups.

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Internships in Oklahoma City

For our fellow Okies, there are some pretty great companies to apply to here in OKC. We may be a little biased, but of course, we’re going to include Freestyle Creative on our list!

Screen Shot 2019-04-02 at 11.07.14 AMThere are many, many other awesome places to apply to that we may have missed – but the above list is great to get you started (and to also consider down the road for full-time opportunities).

Make it Personal
Think outside the box and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there! Whenever possible, don’t just stick to the online applications. Here are some tips to make the first move during the application process:

  1. Call the hiring manager to introduce yourself, affirm interest and ask smart questions about the internship.
  2. Send a well-written email or LinkedIn message to the hiring manager (or better yet – a connection you have at the company).
  3. Visit the company in person, and bring a printed portfolio and resume to leave with the front desk for the hiring manager.

Bring your A-game, and don’t be afraid to be bold. You have nothing to lose! Hiring managers are just people, who are eager to meet the right candidate. They will likely appreciate your initiative and confidence.

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Your Application

Resume

Your resume should be a constant work in progress. Be sure to showcase any previous internships, job shadow experience, campus leadership, relevant projects/coursework. If you’re lacking experience, find other ways to stand out. (Create a non-traditional resume, build a personal website, develop a coursework portfolio, film a video resume, etc.) In the marketing and advertising world, resumes should be visually dynamic. Always have a trusted set of eyes on your resume before sending it off. Your advisor, university career center, professor, mentor, or classmates can all provide a fresh perspective.

Cover Letters

Despite what you may have learned, cover letters don’t have to be stuffy. This is your opportunity to show your true self and have some personality. What is your story? Your strengths? Your goals? And why should this company bring you in for an interview?

Do your research on the company and cite something relevant to them. What connections can you draw? Why would this be your dream internship? Trust us—hiring managers can tell if you really want the job…or if you’re copy/pasting a generic cover letter. More casual email correspondence and LinkedIn messaging is starting to take the place of traditional cover letters. However, all correspondence should be well-written, thoughtful (and thoroughly proofread)! Triple-check the spelling of the company and any names you reference. After all your hard work, you don’t want to ruin it with a typo.

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Build a strong portfolio (it can include coursework, freelance work, a personal website, video, profile, blogs, etc). Like resumes, your portfolio should be constantly growing and improving. As you gain coursework and experience, be intentional about adding your best work to your portfolio and seek out opportunities to add to it.

Letters of Recommendation

While not always a requirement on internship and job applications, it can make a great impression. Was there a professor or mentor you really admired and had a great relationship with? An advisor you really impressed? A class you aced? These are all great starting points. However, be intentional and build true relationships early on — these mentors can be a huge help with identifying places to apply, making introductions, and potentially for writing you a letter of recommendation.

Note: At the conclusion of your internship, always ask for a letter of recommendation from your internship supervisor.

Rock the Interview

So you’ve scored an interview—Congrats! This is a major win as oftentimes it’s super competitive to get this far. Now it’s time to put in the work so that you are as confident and prepared as possible.

But first…what do I wear?

Be yourself, but dress sharp! Do some research on the company to get a good feel for their work environment (there are big differences between corporate and creative workplaces). Look at company photos, social media, company materials to get a good feel for typical dress. When in doubt, dress professionally and invest in a good, multi-purpose blazer that will serve you well for important days you need to put your best foot forward.Freestyle Creative - Internships Slide Deck_Page_09_Image_0003

Interview Day

Plan to get there 15 minutes early (you never know with traffic and parking). After checking in, strike up a conversation with whomever you meet in the front lobby. What do they do? What do they like most about working there? What is the typical day-to-day like? (All great insights before heading into your interview.)

Then, as you meet the hiring manager and are welcomed in for the interview be warm and confident as you introduce yourself.

So, tell me about yourself?

This is it! One of the most important parts of the interview: your elevator pitch. Your introduction is your first chance to make a strong impression, give them a glimpse of who you are, and set the tone for the rest of the interview. It should be about three to five sentences. If you’re writing your elevator pitch for the first time, you can break it down into the following sections:

  • Introduction: Who are you? Where are you from? What makes you interesting?
  • Major/field of study or background
  • Awards, honors, strengths
  • What drew you to the position/internship?
  • Why you’re a great fit?
    Don’t be shy, this is where you highlight your strongest selling points. Balance it with professionalism while showing your personality and qualities that make you unique and memorable.

As you’re practicing your elevator pitch before the interview – write down your key points and practice it out loud. Recite it for your career advisor, your mentor, your roommate….your cat — anybody who will listen! Practice it and perfect it—because when you’re going into an interview, you’ll be most nervous in the beginning (and this is the most important part!) If you know your elevator pitch like the back of your hand, you’ll feel much more confident.

Interview Questions

After acing your introduction, you’ll answer questions about your background, coursework, work experience, and some trickier situational questions. A good Google search will give you a great list of general questions to prepare for. Be sure to have talking points prepared for every potential question that could be thrown your way.

Here are some tougher questions we like to ask to really get to know the interviewee:

  • What rewards are you wanting to see in your career in the future?
  • What is the best compliment you’ve ever received?
  • Tell me about your personality?
  • Tell me about a time you stood up for an idea?
  • What qualities does a company need to have/avoid for you to be with them long term?
  • What sets you apart from the others applying for this position?

Get to Know the Company

This is also your opportunity to interview the company to make sure it’s the right fit for you! Prepare a list of questions to ask the interviewer about the company. Be familiar with and ask questions about the following: their mission, their core values, their services, their clients, important news, awards, their case studies/work, and their culture.

Post-Interview Etiquette

You rocked your interview and are really pumped about interning for this company — it seems like the perfect fit! Your communication post-interview is just as important.

  1. Send a “Thank you” email to your interviewer. Genuinely thank them for their time, reference something you learned about the company in the interview, and reiterate your interest. (Brownie points if you send your follow up email right after the interview!)
  2. Mail a “Thank you” card to your interviewer. Cards are very classy and add a personal touch.
  3. Send a LinkedIn connection request.
  4. After 1 – 2 weeks, email to follow up on the hiring process and reiterate your interest.

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It All Works Out The Way It’s Supposed To

After going through the process above and putting your best foot forward – apply to the next company on your list! (Make a full list of your top companies — and apply to all of them. Sometimes it’s a numbers game!) Keep applying, interviewing and being yourself.

You’ve got this.