How to Crush Your Next Career Fair

By: Samantha Branson

Career Fair meeting pic

Debbie Kubena (center) with Vi Tran and Landon Horan before Kubena’s presentation at the meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 7.

To many students, a career fair can seem foreboding, confusing, and sometimes, downright scary. There are so many things to remember, from what to wear to what not to say. Director of Communication Career Services Debbie Kubena stopped by to give PRSSA helpful advice on how to stand out at any career fair.

Before the fair:

  1. Practice your elevator speech

An elevator speech is a short, introductory speech that you may give to a recruiter. To keep their interest, it’s usually recommended that this remain concise. An example of this may be, “Hi, my name is Sam. I’m a junior advertising major looking for an internship this spring.” In this short sentence the student’s name, area of study, classification, and intent are revealed.

  1. Wear business professional attire

The goal of a career fair is to land an internship, or even better, a job. So go the extra mile when deciding what to wear in order to impress a future employer. Avoid t-shirts and shorts, or any athletic wear. Visit this article by CCS to further learn about proper attire.

  1. Research the companies

There will be 90 companies present at this career fair. That’s a lot of people to talk to, so narrow that number down. Make an A-List, B-List, and even a C-List of who you want to talk to. “Have an idea of what each company does and what their service is,” said Kubena.

  1. Bring enough resumes

Be sure to have enough resumes on hand for each company you plan to talk to, and then add five. Also, bring something to hold your resumes and to take notes with – like a padfolio – because you may find a company interesting at the fair that you were not interested in or overlooked when making your list.

During the fair:

  1. Make a game plan

There will be a map provided upon your arrival, so it’d be a good idea to start your career fair journey by surveying the room and finding the booths you want to visit. Bonus tip: get your nerves out by practicing your elevator pitch and conversing with the companies that aren’t on your A-List!

  1. Do not monopolize the recruiters’ time

As Kubena said, “Nothing will [annoy] them more than if they can’t get rid of you.” Therefore, plan five minutes per recruiter as a general rule.

  1. Do a little eavesdropping

Listen to the questions the person in front of you asks the recruiter. This will prevent you from asking the same questions.

  1. Do not pass out business cards

These are usually superfluous anyways because the same information is available on your resume.

After the fair:

  1. Follow up with the recruiter

Don’t forget to ask for each recruiter you visit at the fair for their name and contact info, so that you can send an email reminding them where they met you and about your interest in their company. Don’t forget to attach a resume because they may forward your email to the company’s head of recruitment. Do this ASAP; the sooner the better.

Follow this advice and you’ll walk into the career fair with confidence. But above all, remember to be yourself. The career fair is designed to help students, and what university has better students than The University of Texas at Austin? Hook ‘em!

9/30 Agency Tour – McGarrah Jessee

By: Tiffany Lin

McGarrah Jessee is on the corner of 6th and Colorado (photo: McKinney York Architects).

McGarrah Jessee is on the corner of Sixth and Colorado (photo: McKinney York Architects).

Best known for its work with Frost, Shiner Bock and Whataburger, McGarrah Jessee is a local full service ad agency founded in 1996. Their cozy yet spacious workplace is made to house no more than 150 people, which they believe is large enough to efficiently operate while still being able to interpersonally communicate with each other. Our guides, Marketing Director Heather Snow and HR Manager Jennifer Blank, explained that the agency favors face-to-face interactions versus emailing each other, which would be preferred in larger agencies. “When we do our best, we do it together,” said Snow. And when an agency gets too big, communication tends to suffer.

A view of the escalators, lobby and mural (photo: Lost Laurel).

A view of the escalators, lobby and mural (photo: Lost Laurel).

Originally built for the American National Bank in 1954, the agency’s five-story building has a lot of history behind it, including Austin’s first escalator and a three ton mural by Seymour Fogel, which is the centerpiece of the lobby. The building has even been featured in Architect magazine for its restoration. Located upstairs is Chicago-based media agency, Kelly Scott Madison. The KSM office performs the media buying aspect of the PR business, allowing McJ to focus on the media planning. The rooftop of the McJ Building has chairs on an island of artificial grass, a mini helicopter, and a beautiful view of downtown Austin, making it the perfect setting for hosting the agency’s monthly happy hour.

McJ's rooftop (photo: Michelle Hill).

McJ’s rooftop (photo: Michelle Hill).

As the tour winded down, we met with Eric Webber, the public relations and social media director. Webber mentioned that some of the greatest challenges of PR are the misconceptions of the field such as how PR doesn’t cost money – which leads to budgeting and control issues. Unlike paid media, PR associates have to work smarter, not costlier. To be at the right spot at the right time is difficult; after all, what is a great story if there is no one to tell it to? PR isn’t just about the great story though; it is also about the storytelling.

McGarrah Jessee treats social media as a creative outlet – similar to a print ad. What is exposed out on social media stays indefinitely in an Internet database. Webber favors the immediacy of social media because of how quickly one can respond to a complaint and how it directly connects the company to its public. However, he advises against spending too much time on social media because it’s easy to be consumed by it. In terms of damage control, it is important to “man up” and take responsibility. Sometimes, all a company can do is listen, and acknowledge and take responsibility.

Webber says that PR is great for people who have short attention spans because this job can sometimes quickly shifts from one client to another. It’s also a research-heavy industry with plenty of planning and strategy; there are always surveys to be performed and critical thinking on what the brand is all about. It is important to put yourself in the client’s shoes and think about what the client wants and what success looks like to them. Focus on an ultimate goal and leap towards it. Important questions to also ask yourself are: how much leeway is the company giving me and are there specific guidelines to look at? Taking from his experience with Red Cross, Webber recommends working with pro bono clients because it allows you to “do good” and enjoy doing it.

One of Webber’s favorite clients has been Shiner Bock, whose infamous Shiner-Heineken ACL clash has been a writing topic of many UT advertising and PR students. Shiner had mischievously one-upped Heineken, a prominent ACL sponsor, by handing out Shiner Bock printed coozies to ACL attendees, who then used them to keep their Heineken beer cold, so it looked like everyone with a coozie was drinking Shiner. After this promotion, Shiner’s trust for McJ strengthened and McJ started participating in product packaging, publicity, events, and social media.

McGarrah Jessee is an agency that is proud of its diverse and creative staff, whose dedication has allowed the agency to mature and grow. Their offices, each decorated a little differently, paint an atmosphere where ideas and interaction are always welcome, and it is the teams’ experience and resourcefulness that has propelled McJ into the PR spotlight.

The Sixth Street entrance of McJ (photo: AKA Builders).

The Sixth Street entrance of McJ (photo: AKA Builders).

UT Alumni Panel Shares PR Tips Through Personal Experiences


Ashley Schlosser, Alison Kwong, and Adrienne Newcomb (left to right) posing before the meeting on Sept. 23, 2014.

By: Cody Church

In the wake of a celebration touting the future of public relations for the newly dubbed Stan Richards School of Advertising and Public Relations at The University of Texas at Austin, UT PRSSA assembled a panel of alumni to speak about the challenges they faced entering the job market as well as to offer advice to current students. The juxtaposition of past, present and future on this day created an environment of hope and passion for those who attended. The panel consisted of Alison Kwong, Adrienne Newcomb, and Ashley Schlosser – each of whom is an established PR professional. Offering differing perspectives, the panel imparted the significance of perseverance and ambition, a theme reinforced throughout the presentation.

Alison Kwong, a PR specialist at National Instruments, spoke first. She was very active in college and kept busy with internships and extracurricular activities. Any college adviser would have been very proud of her, but she emphasized that internships, while impressive, won’t guarantee anyone a job. “The ones that show initiative are the ones I want on my team,” Kwong stated. Earlier in the evening she stressed the importance of honing writing skills while in college. The message she conveyed is clear – though she believes internships are crucial, the quality of work will always outshine the quantity of internships.

The next speaker, Adrienne Newcomb, embodies this idea. In college, she didn’t have the quantity of internships that most students would strive for. Instead, she related the experience gained at her previous jobs to PR in order to create valuable leverage. Newcomb, an assistant account executive at PPR Worldwide today, spoke extensively about how she would organize events for her employers and take charge of their social media accounts; so while she did not have a formal internship, she was still able to demonstrate competency in skills necessary for PR professionals. When asked what advice she would give to herself as a freshman, Newcomb, replied, “I wish I would have gotten involved sooner,” but she was extremely confident that the basic skills she picked up along the way, even from a job that she hated, gave her the solid foundation she needed to find her dream job.

Ashley Schlosser, our chapter’s liaison and the final speaker, focused mostly on confidence for students applying for internships or looking for jobs after graduation. She recalled a time when her voice was so shrill on a conference call that a professor had to stop her and ask her to calm down. Schlosser, the founder and owner of Live Out Loud PR, told UT PRSSA that the best piece of advice she received in college was simply to calm down, regain composure and speak with confidence. She also added that the scramble for jobs and internships can seem like it is a competition at times, but advised the students in the room to remember that “not everyone is running the same race; don’t be intimidated by other people.”

During the Q&A portion of the meeting, all three speakers were in a agreement that being personable during an interview can often make one stand out as the best candidate for the job. Sharing personal stories, finding something in common with the interviewer, or simply making a joke during the interview can set one apart from the others.

As the meeting drew to a close, students lined up on the stage to continue the discussion. The future certainly looks bright for the students of the Stan Richards School and members of PRSSA, thanks in part to our wonderful panel who were willing to share their stories and paint a clearer picture of what life is like after graduation.

Summer Internship Showcase – Non-PR

Aparna (right) and a fellow intern after meeting the star of "Sharknado 2: The Second One" on premiere night.

Aparna (right) and a fellow intern after meeting the star of “Sharknado 2: The Second One” on premiere night.

Aparna Kumar is a senior and is interning at NBCUniversal in the production department at Syfy in New York. Aparna says that she has learned so much more than she could have imagined coming in.

In production, she is mostly working to create graphics overlays and cut clips from movies and television shows for use in promos and sales reels. Aparna is also responsible for digitizing tapes of movies that are sent in by producers for Syfy to air on television. “Even though I don’t watch Syfy’s original content, it’s been great to be a part of the team that works to promote these shows,” Aparna said. “And I’ve definitely had a blast working on the campaign for ‘Sharknado 2: The Second One’ that came out this month.”

Aparna’s favorite thing about her internship has been getting to perfect her technical skills in programs like Final Cut and After Effects, of which she only knew Final Cut coming in, and of course, getting to work at “30 Rock.” “Sometimes when I’m walking through the door in the morning, I try and channel Tina Fey’s energy and it gets me through my day,” Aparna said. “Plus, it’s great that the production team is so laid-back and I get to come to work in jeans and sneakers if I want to.”

The way she heard about her internship was when NBCUniversal came to recruit at UT back in February. First, Aparna submitted her resume through the Communication Career Services portal. Then, she got called back for an interview with a recruiter. After, she had to record a timed video interview through the NBC portal, and finally she received an email from her current supervisor for a phone interview a few weeks later.

“If I were to give anyone advice on how to land an internship outside the realm of PR or companies in Austin, it would absolutely be to take advantage of Career Services. I never thought I would get to spend my summer working for one of my dream companies and it’s been an incredible experience so far.”


Hillary Hurst is a junior and is interning at C3 Presents in Austin, Texas.hillary

C3 has taught her many important skills during the summer, such as thinking on your feet and being open to new experiences.

Hillary is a floater intern, which means she works in all departments. Because of her position, she is able to see how the office runs as a cohesive entity. “Everyone in the office is so friendly and cool,” Hillary said. “I felt so welcomed, and it’s nice to get an idea of the kind of environment I would like to work in once I graduate.”

One of the most interesting things about her internship is that C3 puts on events, including the Austin City Limits Festival and Lollapalooza, so it’s fun to get a behind-the-scenes look at how those intricate events are executed. “I’ve been attending ACL for the past six years, so it’s awesome to see the other side of the music,” Hillary said.

Summer Internship Showcase – Nonprofit


Abz (left) and another LIVESTRONG intern before shooting a thank you video to send to donors.

Abigail Zeitler, or better known as Abz, is a junior and is interning at LIVESTRONG in Austin, Texas. One of the main things she has learned is that nonprofits have many more aspects to them than just what people assume. Abz is currently the stewardship intern on the development side of LIVESTRONG and had no idea just how much development plays in the inner workings of a nonprofit. Development and stewardship were two career paths she had never considered before this internship.

“LIVESTRONG is an incredible place to intern,” Abz said. “You should visit if you can. The people are inspirational and every day I learn something new. I am encouraged to be all that I can be as an intern here and to do incredible things with my life.” Interns are also able to participate in events, fundraising and anything going on at LIVESTRONG.

The way she found this internship was through a friend who thought it’d be a good fit for her. As for future plans, Abz will possibly be interning with her PRSSA mentor next fall. “That is a great connection that PRSSA gave me!”



Nikki (top) providing input and helping to plan the 2014 Texas CASA Conference.

Nikki Dulay is a junior and is interning at Texas CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), a nonprofit in Austin, Texas that advocates for children in the foster care system through local CASA program across the state. Through this internship, Nikki has really grown in her writing and editing skills. She has also learned about Google Analytics, how to manage a website and social media accounts and event planning by helping out with a conference that Texas CASA is hosting this fall in Galveston. As her first internship, she has also learned a lot about how to work in an office and how to collaborate with other people and departments effectively.

“Besides the fact that I work with really awesome people in the Training and Communications Department, I love that there are different departments all working towards the same mission,” Nikki said. “ It’s always interesting hearing what everyone else is doing and getting to learn more about the nonprofit sector as a whole and not just communications.”

Nikki received this internship because of another member in PRSSA. During her interview, she also talked about some of the work she had done in PRSSA since it was on her resume. In addition, her interviewer was a member of PRSA, so it was great to have that connection.

“Prior to this internship, I thought all nonprofits were pretty much the same: fundraising and volunteering,” Nikki said. “At Texas CASA, we provide resources and assistance to county programs and help them grow so we can work towards our ultimate mission. This has opened my eyes to see just how broad the nonprofit industry is. Each organization is a unique world that works for their specific mission that ultimately wants to give back to others and make the world a better place.”

Summer Internship Showcase – In-House

Alyssa Neilson is a senior and is interning in New York at Barney’s New York, an in-house public relations department. “We do our own work while kind of treating the high-fashion brands we sell like clients,” Alyssa said. “We push a lot of products. It’s a unique sort of atmosphere since it’s a department store.”

One of the main things she has learned is that working in PR is a really demanding job – but it’s also super rewarding. She is also learning a lot more about writing media releases for fashion media outlets since the style of writing is different than traditional press releases.

Her favorite thing about this internship is managing social media accounts. Whenever there are new designer products in the Los Angeles or New York City store, she gets to tweet and post to Instagram about it. “Barney’s just partnered with NBA’s Russell Westbrook and he was here two weeks ago doing social media in their office!” Alyssa said. “He did an ‘Instagram style takeover,’ so it was really unique and cool.”

Although she didn’t get this internship through PRSSA, she believes that being in PRSSA always helps your pursuits. “People love to see when you’re passionate about this field and actually involved in the PR world prior to graduating and getting your PR degree.”


EmmaEmma DeCaro is a senior and is interning at the Chick-fil-A Home Office in Atlanta. She has learned about the power of storytelling and that there must be an equal focus on results and relationships; without one, the other cannot be as strong. “If you want a remarkable career experience, you need to work for something you care and are passionate about, otherwise work will be stressful,” Emma said. Most importantly, she has learned through weekly devotions how prayer changes everything. In addition, she has learned about entrepreneurship, working in a restaurant, good stewardship, supply chains, waste streams, event planning, the relationship journalists have with Twitter, putting thought behind every decision, the value of creativity and more.

What she loves about her internship is the authenticity of the people who work at Chick-fil-Emma2A. The interns spent an entire day with CEO Dan Cathy touring the city of Atlanta to learn the history of Chick-fil-A and then went over to his home for dinner and outdoor recreation.

“Tell me of another company CEO who will do that and I’ll be impressed!” Emma said. “Chick-fil-A cares about each of us holistically – they have invested a lot in our development. From providing us each with a Strengths Finder test and personalized one-hour assessment, to taking us to WinShape Wilderness for ropes course team building, to inviting marketing interns on their overnight storytelling retreat, to letting us be a team member in a restaurant for a day, Chick-fil-A is equipping us to not only be better business people, but also better people in general.”

“At Chick-fil-A, people are not just a number – they are family. It has been a true pleasure to be part of Chick-fil-A this summer. Hook ‘em and Eat More Chicken!”


KCKristen C. Munoz, or KC as her friends call her, is a senior and is a communications & marketing intern at Austin Resource Recovery in Austin, Texas. Austin Resource Recovery provides a variety of residential services to curbside customers in Austin. They are a department of the City of Austin whose goal is to reach zero waste by the year 2040.

Before she started working at Austin Resource Recovery, she would throw an aluminum can in the recycling bin every once in a while and maybe rinse and recycle a plastic tub when it was convenient. KC didn’t know why she was doing these things; all she knew was if she put items in these bins they would be taken away. What she has learned at Austin Resource was that the place these materials go to is very real, and it can either help or hurt us in the long run. Working at Austin Resource Recovery has given KC the opportunity to see the impact that reducing waste truly has on the world around us. “It’s more than just placing things in the right bin,” KC said. “It is knowing that every little decision we make affects the environment around us.”

“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.”                       – Robert Swan.

Her favorite thing about this internship has definitely been getting to work with the marketing team because they made her feel like an equal part of the team. Over these past weeks, she was able to lead meetings, develop website and social media content, organize press conferences and put together media kits. The responsibilities KC was given here allowed her to grow as an intern in more ways than one. “I have seen programs develop from start to finish and let me tell you, there is nothing cooler than seeing your team’s efforts make a positive change in the city you love.”


Summer Internship Showcase – Agency


Kelly (left) and another fellow intern working the LA Film Festival on behalf of the film ID represented, “The Road Within.”

Kelly Groves is currently a senior and is interning at ID Public Relations in Los Angeles. “ID-PR is at the heart of all entertainment and I have truly learned why their name comes from the word ‘identity,’” Kelly said. “ID works to shape and define some of the best talent, brands, films, studios, and companies in the nation and has successfully become the intersection of entertainment public relations and brand communications.”

Kelly’s favorite part about this internship is all of the networking opportunities she has had by working at red carpet events, going to photo shoots, and even just going to lunch with ID’s welcoming employees. “I can’t wait to move to LA to start my career in the entertainment public relations industry!”



Elizabeth (right) filming her boss for a video blog that just started this summer. Elizabeth, who is in charge of editing and filming, has helped her boss garner new business!

Elizabeth Chavez is currently a senior and is interning at a small agency in Austin, Texas, called Kimberly Strenk Public Relations, Inc. Over the past few weeks she has learned that it’s important to create learning opportunities for yourself by taking initiative and asking for what you want.

“My favorite thing about my internship is that I am given a lot of responsibility,” Elizabeth said. “The things I do in the office are new and exciting for me, but ultimately I know it will be going directly to the client, so the work must be professional.”

Elizabeth learned about this internship through the career service database and says that she used her experience from PRSSA to help her get the job because of her lack of prior pre-professional experience.