Relax, just do it: networking tips for PR students

PR students at Southampton Solent University attended a Professional Networking Event, where Matt Desmier, founder of Creative and Digital Consultancy Wise Old Uncle discussed the importance of networking.

During his talk, he emphasized five main principles that PR students should consider in order to create useful connections on their way to obtaining the perfect job:

1.    Relax. Be yourself.

Our gust lecturer took his own advice. He was charmingly relaxed and he told us that people who are pretending to be someone they are not won’t have too much success while climbing the career ladder. The employers or partners want to see their employees as humans, to know their weaknesses and their strengths, in order to make the most of them. As a result of being confident in his ability to inform and influence the young practitioners, he engaged us in the conversation, and debating different topics with him was a delight.

2.    Be prepared.

The second point referred to always knowing oneself (what your goals are, so that you show them you have considered your prospects) but also who one is interested to work with. Look at it from the employers’ point of view: it is always flattering to find that there is someone interested in your work. Who knows what business opportunity can emerge from there?

 3.    Be interesting. Be interested.

All those present at the event realized how important the above-mentioned statement was, as towards the end of the event, we were asked to socialize amongst ourselves. This simulation of real-life networking events helped me understand that if one does not seem interested in what the other individual has to say, the connection is lost. Therefore the chance of getting the job one would like to land may be lost.

4.    Want to read the rest?

Then check out Behind’s the Spin website:


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Studying Abroad: Misfortune or Chance of a Lifetime?

Hi guys,

This post is for those of you who are about to graduate high-school and experience uncertainty about what to do next. I will now tell you all about my experience on studying abroad and how I dealt with it. Hope it will help you decide what to do next.

Here it goes.

Few months prior to high school graduation I began to wonder whether the fact that I
was going to study Journalism in my home country, Romania, would actually help me
succeed in my career. I was beginning to think that, due to the economic climate, I would
not be able to achieve anything of value in my carreer.

With an existing possibility of not managing to affirm myself in the desired line
of work, I decided to apply to study abroad. In time, the idea of moving to England
for three years or even more, started to grow on me. Reluctant as my parents may
have been, I still left, hoping for greener pastures. Leaving my parents to decide for me was not a viable option.

In no time, the months passed and I found myself, sitting in the plane, next to my
father, preparing to take off from Baneasa International Airport. Destination? The city of
Southampton. After making sure that everything was well, he returned to Romania. That
was the moment when I instantly felt like there was nothing else I wished more on this
world than returning back home with him, so I could be with my friends and family and
not having to struggle in an unknown city, with no support from the ones I care about.

Now, I am glad I did not do that. As humans, we are naturally programmed to adapt to
the changing environment. After about three-months, I got to know many international
and British people who saw life from different angles than mine. They taught me to
be more relaxed and calm, how to deal with conflict and apologise,  and be punctual (although from one reason or another I am never ready on time). Each and every one of them has a story of their own to share, or a lesson to teach. I consider myself fortunate enough for having the opportunity to be among them, to hearing them, telling jokes, listening to their laughter, watching movies or cooking dinner together. I came to England with the aim of learning from the best lecturers and improving my chances of finding a job that I love. I have all that and above all, friends that are there for me in times of need.

Looking back to the moment I arrived in Southampton makes me realise that I evolved a
lot as a human being. Growing is all right. Becoming a mature person is all right. Getting to know the unknown in my life was probably the most difficult but also the best thing I have ever done. Neale Donald Walsch once said, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”. Don’t wait until you are retired to do something. Don’t expect your dreams to simply come true. Make them come true. Remember that time does not wait for anyone. Experience moving to a foreign country if that is what your heart desires. After all, you only have one life to live!

If you want to know more about my experience of  studying abroad, as well as see well mastered pictures, check out the link below of Do It Yourself Girl, featuring “University: trick or treat?” on the cover.



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To be or not to be: moral VS profit-driven

Last week, my friends and I ran a facilitated discussion on food labeling, more precisely, about the traffic lights system and how does the population perceive it.

In case you did not come across this topic before, the food labeling system was developed by the Food Labeling Agency and its aim is to show the consumers the calories, fat, saturates, sugar and salt included in the product, by emphasizing the foods’ nutritional properties through the following colors: red, amber and green.

Source: Food Standards Agency

Our case study focused on Tesco’s food labeling deal with the government. The latter one is actively seeking for ways to tackle obesity, a disease affecting more and more people each day, thus considers food labeling a proper way of warning the population of the unhealthy or healthy content of different products.

After researching, I found that around 60% of adults and an estimated 30% of children suffer from obesity, in the UK. (BBC, 2012) [online] These people might consider the governments’ decision of implementing the food labeling system very helpful. On the other hand, Nestle, important player in the Nutrition and Wellness consumer goods industry, sustains that people will not be able to choose for themselves, therefore their individual responsibility could be strongly undermined.

My peers argued that they would actually like to be informed over the nutritional facts of the food they are buying, but they also stated that they would still purchase the cheapest products. As expressed by them, it is their choice to buy or not to buy. Theirs and no one else’s.

I wonder whether the government’s, Tesco’s and Nestle’s apparent moral reasons for implementing or not the food labeling system are actually sustained by their ethical code of conduct or does it all come down to economical reasons? Are the consumers’ rights used as a means of making more money or not? Which one should we listen to? Should the companies take into account the law for fear of not getting sued over hiding the population that the food they eat comes from a crop where pesticides were used or should companies think about the good of the humanity and state the content on the label as purely informative?

The second option would also imply that if food companies do inform people over the food they buy, this would also mean that they would be able to create an ethical renown for themselves. In this case, one could question whether the companies are doing all that for building a reputation for themselves, which would also imply economic reasons.

What do you think?


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Confessions about the work experience

I admit it: I did not have time to write any more blog posts because I had too many uni assignments that took away all my free time. After I have finished handing in different papers and sitting exams, the time came for me to look for a job. I am very anxious to find a suitable job for me, as I am not able to stay home for more than a week, engaged in trivial activities. I would much rather sleep at work than do nothing at home. This is how I roll. And this is how the process of searching for a job has started.

However, I have a feeling that it won’t be finished any time soon. By applying many times to different companies, I could not help noticing that many employers are looking for people with experience (of more than a year), even at an entry level. Furthermore, the employers are also looking for people that are able to prioritise and I could not agree more. In the PR industry, one has to be able to do so, in order to deal, in an effective and timely manner, with any potential issue, relevant for the well-being of a company. Therefore, they also require for their future employees to be able to prioritise.

The recent graduates are usually the ones that are looking for entry level positions, as they [including myself] are lacking experience. Nonetheless, the vast majority of students show evidence that they know how to prioritise their work, by choosing not to work and completely focus on their studies, which in my view is the correct course of action for one’s professional career.

The bigger question here is: how are the recent graduates supposed to have relevant work experience of more than one or two years, when they are busy working on their assignments? From an analytical perspective, I have to say: it is better not to find a job during the period of time that one is completing his/her university course, as it allows him/her to focus on their studies.


Therefore, is it better to have worked and studied at the same time, or is it better to focus on one’s studies in order to learn more about the industry? Isn’t this the main reason why we all strive to achieve university degrees? I am puzzled, and at this stage I do not know whether it is better to dive into the process of studying or compromise, and perform both the action of studying and working simultaneously.

“PR is about reputation, the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you”, according to the Chartered Institute of Public Relations. In this case, is it better to have a First or a 2:1 degree, or does the work experience, combined with a 2:2 degree count more towards finding a job?

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Confessions about negotiation: is that really necessary?

I have recently realised that I will soon graduate and find a job. My biggest concern, however, is that, at some point in the future, during a performance review, I will not be able to negotiate a promotion or a better salary for myself, which is desirable, especially in this tough economic climate. One thing is certain, though: negotiation is the key.

As an individual, I aim to excel in everything I do. In my PR profession, excellence is represented by the ideal, two way communication model (Grunig, 1992), which occurs between two parties that listen to each other. You may ask yourselves: what is the connection between communication and negotiation? Well, communication lies at the core of every human interaction, and negotiation is a form of human interaction (Goldman and Shapiro, 2012: 455).

In effect, I believe that for the negotiation process to be successful, both parties need to consider the two way communication model.  Therefore, first of all, listen to what your employer is saying. He will be more open to a negotiation deal, if you keep the communication lines open and show him that you have, indeed, listened to him. In my last blog, I described the importance of the three persuasive elements, which are effective if one listens to his target audience. Always remember that a successful negotiation is only one listen away.…listen


Second, make sure you know what goals to reach. If you don’t know what to do in order to receive that promotion, simply ask your employer, and when the time for a performance review comes, show him/her that you have indeed listened.

Third, at some point, your employer might ask for you to prove him that you have met the necessary criteria to be promoted or receive that raise.

Be prepared to sustain your claim with evidence. Also, when working in companies like Google, it is also best to maintain a good relationship with your co-workers, as the management will definitely take this fact into account when deciding to award you a promotion.

Last, but not least, be ready to compromise, by also taking into account the other party’s interests. Remember, however, not to forget about your goal and accept another offer, which will make you unhappy on the long term.



I strongly believe that the ideal situation should result in an outcome desired by both parties. Whilst, for an employee, the negotiation process may present new career related opportunities, for the employer, a happy employee is a motivated and therefore productive employee, who will work towards achieving the organisations’ objectives (Prasetya and Masanori, 2010: 84-85).



What are your biggest concerns regarding workplace negotiation? I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter.



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Confessions about the art of persuasion

As recent or soon-to-be graduates, we are all aiming to persuade the employer to give us a chance. But have you ever wondered what the secret of a successful persuasion is?

After having read theory of persuasion and while watching one pre-elections commercial in which Barack Obama was asking the American society to choose between his opponent and him, I finally understood what persuasion entails.


According to Borg (2006: 5), persuasion comprises three, equally important elements: ethos, pathos and logos. In other words, a strategy should be ethically, emotionally and logically appealing. You will ask: how so?

Well, let’s analyse the video. The first element, ethos, that comes across quite powerfully, relates to his personal credibility. He is very passionate about his beliefs, therefore “sincerity exudes” (Borg, 2006: 5) from Barack Obama.  Have you ever heard about the power of one’s thoughts? Think about the power that stating one’s beliefs can have.

The second element of his persuasive speech is the pathos. He emotionally appeals to the population facing difficult economic times, by talking about creating jobs, helping the students, or about the economic patriotism, knowing that Americans love their country.

The third element of his persuasive speech is represented by the logos, or the words he uses. Did you realise that a constant part of his speech is based on the repetition of the “we” pronoun? By not talking down to the citizens, he portrays himself as an equal member of the society (“if I could sit down with you in your living room or around the kitchen table”), allowing the American people to see him as one of theirs.

Did Barack Obama manage to persuade people to vote for him? He did.

Putting all the information I gathered together, I now realise that, most of the times, while trying to convince others that my ideas are good, I have always told the truth with a passionate belief, and my statements had substance. However, I have always overlooked the importance of appealing to my target audience’s emotions.

What about you? Have into taken these three elements into account or did you emphasise only two of them in your speeches, as I did?

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Confessions about a conflictual workplace situation

As a student and former intern for local, national and multinational companies, I have come to realise that conflict is an integral part of the workplace, and is bound to happen at any given moment.

To this end, I want to share with you a relevant example: last year, while interning within a Romanian national corporation, I had an important disagreement with one of the other interns over our tasks. Due to a communication error, we both ended up doing the same editorial task. The strong conflict between us ignited when we both refused to use the other person’s work as the final version, and the conflict turned into a struggle for power.

De Dreu and Gelfand argue that conflict is:

a process that begins when an individual or group perceives differences and opposition between oneself and another individual or group about interests and resources, beliefs, values, or practices that matter to them (2008: 6).

and I could not agree more. A few days later, the conflict finally came to an end because we discussed about it and realised that we had both been wrong in not listening to what the other person had to say. In hindsight, I can affirm that this conflict hugely affected me at that time, as in terms of resources, I lost a lot of time, trying to advocate for my work to be used.



However, for me, that conflict represented “the resolution of the tension between the contraries” (Simmel, 1903: 491), as it liberated me from the stress and tension I experienced during the time I had to work with the other person and made me aware that I need to reach a consensus with him, in order to successfully complete the overall task that we had been assigned, as a group.



In addition, experiencing that conflict made me understand that I do not have to change people’s opinions, but instead accept them as they are. From an analytical perspective, a conflict truly is a learning opportunity, as it impels every unique human being to share their knowledge on the matter, knowledge from which I am sure I have much to learn.

One thing is certain: what “we all bring to the job is the self, making conflict inevitable.”  By interning in different organisations, I have encountered extremely different people, whose personalities, represented, indeed, the “uncontrollable variables” (Sills, 2006). Therefore, in the future, I will definitely try to listen more, in order to make the most of the conflict,and hopefully, to evolve as a person and as a professional.

What is your experience of dealing with conflict? Do you think that it can negatively affect an individual or an organisation, or do consider that it acts as an agent for evolution (Mullins, 2005)?

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