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Tales from a student-PR agency at Kent State University


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“What are your Hobbies?” The Hardest “Easy” Question You’ll Ever Get in a Job Interview

Imagine you’re in a job interview for your dream internship. You’ve been preparing for days – you have your elevator speech fully memorized, you’ve practiced your responses to the “where do you see yourself in five years,” and the “what are your biggest strengths and weaknesses,” questions, and now it’s time to ‘wow’ the interviewers with your smart and concise responses. And you do – until, near the end of the interview, the interviewer breaks out the one question you weren’t prepared for: “So what do you do in your spare time? What are your hobbies?”

The question seems harmless enough at first, until you realize you don’t have an answer. Because let’s be honest: between classes, organizations and work, your “spare time” is extremely limited. And what spare time you do have involves venting about your busy life to your friends or watching Netflix in your room while eating ramen. And it’s not like you can tell THAT to your prospective bosses. So, what do you do?

This very situation has happened to me a couple of times now, and both times the question caught me off guard. What do you say to a question like this? Do you tell the truth and sound lazy? Or do you lie, and risk being caught? Here’s my advice for answering one of the easiest, yet extremely mind-boggling questions you’ll ever get in a job interview.

What is a “Hobby?”

When I first think of hobbies, I think of the traditional ones: painting, or knitting, or playing a sport or instrument. Now, if you’re already doing one of these things, great! You’re all set for this question. But, if you’re like me and you don’t do any of that stuff – at least not on a regular basis — you might be thinking you don’t have a hobby. But don’t fret! You don’t have to pick up fencing or ballroom dancing just yet. There are a lot of things that you’re already doing that could be considered a “hobby.” Do you cook? Cooking is a hobby. Do you like to hike and explore? That could be considered a hobby. Do you like movies? Passion for films is a great hobby. These may not be as exciting or skill-based as say, competing in tennis or making your own clothes, but they’re still things that not everyone is passionate about and can set you apart from the other job candidates.

What Your Hobby Should Say About You

The reason why this question comes up so much is job interviews is that employers want to learn as much about you as possible. Questions like this could stem from concerns the employer might have, such as your overall health and energy level, your mentality or how you might engage and entertain clients and coworkers. They also want to try and get a sense of whether they’d get along with you, and feel comfortable chatting in the break room or making small talk during a one-on-one meeting.

You should know there are certain subjects that you should never bring up in an interview — even if your favorite way to spend free time is gambling, partying, or any type of illegal or questionable activity, never bring it up in an interview. Political involvement is also not a good response – unless you’re going to work for a political organization or you know FOR SURE that the people conducting the interview align with you politically. Make sure your answer positively reflects you and your ability to achieve success in the position.

You can also use the hobbies question to touch on things that are on your resume that weren’t already brought up in the interview. If you didn’t already get a chance to talk about your work in your extra-curricular activities or your volunteer and community work, this question is a great opportunity to expand on that. Just make sure you’re not being repetitive – your interviewer wants to learn as much about you as possible, not hear the same answers applied to different questions.

No matter what your answer is, make sure it’s as genuine as possible. Chances are, your employer already knows whether you’re qualified for the job: they want to get to know YOU. So remember to sound passionate and enthusiastic when talking about your “hobby.”

Thinking ahead

Now, just because you don’t have a “traditional” hobby right now, doesn’t you can’t pick one up! It’s never too late to learn a new skill, and in most cases, it’s not hard to find opportunities to do so. Most colleges have classes and organizations dedicated to teaching or expanding on a specific craft. So when you’re going to register for next semesters classes, be sure to check out that yoga or dance class, or see what kind of painting, sewing or pottery classes your university offers. You can also go online to see what clubs and organizations your university has that are dedicated to specific hobbies – join a knitting group or book club. If you’re like me and don’t have very much time in your schedule (or money in your bank account) to devote to a new hobby, check out YouTube for tutorial ideas! You can learn how to make friendship bracelets or how to do the electric slide in no time. The possibilities are endless – so go out and find your passion! You’ll thank yourself at your next job interview.

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All hail the Queen: how Beyoncé influenced my PR strategies

Flash_Bey

The lessons one can learn from Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter are endless.

In 1999, she taught us to be weary of a significant other who won’t acknowledge your relationship around others.

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In 2003, she taught us that you need one (or three), things in life: me, myself and I.

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In 2008, she taught us that a diva is a female version of a hustler.

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In her latest album, she taught us how to get in formation and to always be conscious of how to turn lemons into lemonade.

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Most recently, she taught society just how beautiful motherhood really is.

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While the life lessons Queen Bey bestows upon us all would be enough for me – her brilliant and strategic planning has impacted my professional development as well. Beyoncé has been in the industry since the ‘90s, providing constant innovation and inspiration for fellow artists and her fans.
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FlashCast Non Profit Internship Podcast

The latest episode of the FlashCast Podcast is up! This week, we interviewed two Kent State PR majors who have interned at a non profit, and they speak about their internship experiences, how they landed the internship, what they learned and what they wish they would have known before starting.

Questions or comments? Email us at flashcomm@kent.edu.

 


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FlashCast Corporate Internship Podcast

FlashCast6The Flash Communications staff has been interviewing students with internship experience to learn about their advice for current students. This week’s episode includes three students who have interned in the corporate field.

 

In case you missed our last episode, check out our public affairs episode here:

 

 

Do you have questions about any of our interviews or ideas about what you would like to see us cover? Contact us at flashcomm@kent.edu.


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Takeaways from YouToo Social Media Conference

Haley Keding shares her takeaways from the 2015 YouToo Social Media Conference

Haley Keding shares her takeaways from the 2015 YouToo Social Media Conference

A few weeks ago, I attended the eighth annual YouToo Social Media Conference where I learned about social media’s place in the professional world of PR. The conference was phenomenal, and I loved listening to keynote speakers Gini Dietrich, author of “Spin Sucks” and founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, and Mark W. Smith, mobile web editor at The Washington Post. Both professionals had great things to say at the conference so I wanted to share some of their tips on social content and ethics that stuck with me.

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Mark W. Smith opening the YouToo conference with “What IS Social?” Photo by @ebatyko

First off, it’s important to understand what makes social content good or bad. Smith said that when people scroll through their timelines and news feeds, they want short, quick information, so good social content is short, sweet and to the point. If readers choose to click on a link, he said they want to clearly understand what they will read and the experience they will have from that link. This is definitely a tip I want to use on my social media accounts- especially Facebook. Thankfully, Twitter has a 140 character limit, but on Facebook, it’s easy to write a paragraph or two- or five. When I post things in the future, I plan to treat it like a news lead; I’ll keep it to one or two sentences and get the main point of my post across clearly and quickly. I don’t want anyone to be bored with my posts or confused about what I’m telling them, so I plan to ditch the cutesy, fluffy intro for the sanity of my Facebook friends.

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Entertainment PR Tips from an Intern

PR Senior Amanda Knauer provides tips on getting ahead in event public relations

PR Senior Amanda Knauer provides tips on getting ahead in entertainment public relations

Since the day I heard about Allied Integrated Marketing when I was a sophomore, I knew I wanted to eventually intern there. Allied “builds impactful and results-driven campaigns for entertainment and lifestyle clients.”  The agency’s closest branch to me is in Cleveland, but there are offices all over the country (Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, San Diego, Boston, Washington D.C., and the list goes on). At the branch in Cleveland, the agency works basically with new movies coming out in theaters.

After applying and interviewing for the position this past December, I kept my fingers crossed as I waited for the phone call. You can imagine my excitement when the agency finally called and offered me an intern position. I saw it as a way to get my foot in the door. The entertainment sector is a tough one to get into when it comes to public relations.

So, although I have only been an intern at Allied for about a month now, I have learned and experienced many different things about the entertainment industry. Here are a few tips to being successful as an entertainment PR intern:

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Alternatives to Jumping into the “Real World” After Graduation

Hannah Hamner

Senior PR Student Hannah Hamner talks about alternatives to graduation

I’m a big advocate of doing as much as you can before settling down. I’m tired of hearing the term the “real world.” Your life is what you make it. Everything you do and find important is “real,” no matter what path you take.

We live in a society that pressures us to find a 9 to 5 job after graduation. Our parents, teachers and fellow students expect it from us. My question is: what happens if we don’t jump right into our field? Are we shunned from the business world because we decided to take some time for ourselves or do something not directly related to our degree?

The answer commonly, I have found, is “no.”

I’m planning on teaching English abroad for six months after graduation. Because this is a non-traditional approach to life after college, I’ve definitely had concerns about my future success, wondering if my hiatus will put me at a disadvantage when entering the workforce.

Half Obscured Sun Costa Rica

‘Half Obscured Sun
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I’ve been in contact with various professionals through networking events and Kent State courses. Of the professionals I’ve asked, no one has had a negative response. In fact, many of them encouraged me to go off the beaten path, saying they wish they had taken that cross-country road trip or joined that band.

However, professionals were quick to say that you’ll benefit most from your experience if you can apply it your future career, so don’t think of that time as a just vacation period.

Teaching English will help my communication and leadership skills.

I plan on promoting private English lessons by creating a website and social media accounts that reflect my personal brand in addition to hanging flyers and purchasing an ad in a local paper or two. This will be good practice for the public relations world.

The professionals also stressed that doing something out-of-the-box will make you stand out. Not many applicants can say they went to Central America for an extended period of time and founded an ESL company, no matter how small it is. It will also show your passion for new experiences and add a worldly perspective to any PR agency or communications department.

My advice is, if you have any doubts about finding a “normal” job, think of the alternatives. It could benefit you, not only immediately, but in the long run.