Interviewing From 3,202 Miles Away

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Ever since day one in college every single person I spoke to always said: “Go abroad, it’s a great experience!”

During your 4 years there are so many opportunities available to you. I tried my best to take advantage of every opportunity I possibly could. I even took summer and winter break classes in an effort to fulfill all my required courses so I could go abroad and obtain that “great experience” everyone was talking about.

Before I left to go abroad during the spring semester of my junior year I knew I wanted an internship when I returned for the summer. I thought that given everything is online it would be easy to find internships, apply to them and get a great opportunity when I return.

Little did I know the challenge I would soon face.

While I was abroad, I continued to check my college email from back home. I continued to receive emails from the career services office at my school. They sent alerts of internships that they found. I was interested in one of them so I emailed my resume to them and received an email saying that there would be interviews on campus the following week. Obviously, that wasn’t going to work for me since I was in another country.  I emailed them back telling them about my interest in the opportunity and that I was willing to do a Skype or phone interview because of the fact I was in another country getting the “great experience” everyone was telling me about.

That didn’t fly. They said they would only be doing in-person interviews.

I reflected on this experience and realized that this may reveal the type of company they are. Would I want to work at a company that isn’t willing to make use of current technology and make an exception for me since I was doing what everyone was telling me was a “great experience”? I never would have thought going abroad would hinder me in my internship search.

A Little Advice for Future Interns

When searching for an internship, take every hurdle as a lesson and move on.

I continued to persistently search for an internship, worked with the career services department and found Progressive Business Publications. I had a phone interview with Progressive Business Publications and couldn’t be happier with the internship, the interviewing experience, and their willingness to be flexible.

Throwback Thursday: These four PBP employees were once interns here

As our summer internships only have a few weeks left, I thought it would be interesting to get some insight from four past PBP interns that continued working at PBP full-time once their internships ended.

 

2013 Interns featuring Mike and Pat

Summer 2013 Interns featuring Mike and Pat

(From l-r): Chris, Kal, Emily, Ashley, Julia, Meredith, Ed, and Alex.

Summer 2014 Interns featuring Ashley and Julia

 

ashley head shotAshley Zawistowski was an Editorial intern last summer and continued working in the Editorial department full-time in August. Prior to her professional life, she was a competitive gymnast where she accidentally found out she has four extra bones in her body! After getting X-rays for her various gymnast injuries, she was told that she has one extra vertebra, two extra ribs and an extra bone in her foot.

julia head shotJulia Scavicchio was also an Editorial intern last summer and began her career at PBP soon after her internship was over. Unlike Ashley, Julia switched departments and now works in the Media division using her writing skills as a Digital Content Specialist. During her time in college, she developed her leadership skills as a Varsity Coxswain.

 

4Mike Elisio is a Product Marketer who interned with PBP during the 2013 summer in the Executive Education department. He began his full-time position in June of last year after his graduation from Gettysburg College. Mike once used the Heimlich on his friend’s brother when he was choking. (If I ever start choking while eating my lunch, I now know who to run to!)

patPat Schober is another past Editorial intern who now works in Editorial full-time. He was an intern during the 2013 summer with Mike and started his Editorial job in January of 2014. He continues writing in his free time and has written a couple of novels. However, he ran out of steam on both of them, so neither of the novels has made it to a second draft.

 

Post-intern & Post-hired Reflections

I was able to get answers from Ashley, Julia, Mike and Pat on four questions that may help us current interns and any future PBP interns. Read below to find out what they enjoyed about their internships and how it prepared them for their job now, as well as why they decided to work at PBP full-time. They also gave advice for the current and future PBP interns!

 

1) What was your favorite part about your internship?

Ashley: “I enjoyed learning about the different newsletters and having the opportunity to work on several before my internship ended. I also loved the intern group I got to know and work with throughout the summer!”

Julia: My favorite part of the internship was learning about all the different publications. The experience greatly influenced my writing style.”

Mike: Working hands-on preparing presentation materials for the sales team.”

Pat: My favorite part of the internship was all the stuff I learned. Getting moved from publication to publication every few weeks exposed me to areas of business I would otherwise know nothing about.”

 

2) Why did you decide to work at PBP full time?

Ashley: “Having a job fresh out of college isn’t something every recent grad can say, so I wasn’t about to let this job offer go! I really enjoyed my experience as an intern, so that played a big role in my decision to stick around full-time.”

Julia: The position offered to me by Media opened the door to a career path. My research and writing is unique to any other publication on the web, and I’ve developed an expertise thanks to this opportunity. The work is challenging, but I derive a lot value from being a Digital Content Specialist.”

Mike: I liked the atmosphere and it was close enough to commute.”

Pat: I like the people here and the challenges that come with writing business newsletters.”

 

3) How did your internship prepare you for your job now?

Ashley: Editorial interns really do exactly what new-hires in the department do, so the transition was seamless. The only real difference was that once I was hired I was assigned to one specific pub, rather than rotating. Other than that, learning about PBP’s style and the different features in each newsletter helped ensure I was prepared.”

Julia: Editorial provides awesome training, and Media is quickly expanding. The two combined has helped me maximize my potential.”

Mike: It gave me a better sense of what the environment is like in the professional world.”

Pat: Well, it taught me the PBP style, so it was a relatively easy transition going from intern to employee. Plus, a couple publications I worked on as an intern I ended up working on as a full-time. And when I got here, I already knew all my co-workers, so that was nice!”

 

4) Do you have any advice for this year’s interns or future PBP interns?

Ashley: “My biggest piece of advice is to ask for more work! When you have downtime, don’t be afraid to say so. At the end of the day, this internship is what you make it. Challenge yourself by asking if there are other tasks you can learn or other aspects of employees’ daily routines you can take part in.”

Julia: Enjoy the summer and keep up with your LinkedIn profile.”

Mike: Actively look for things to do and help with. It’s more engaging and you won’t get bored. Plus it helps set you apart from other candidates for full-time positions.”

Pat: Get involved as much as you can, and ask a lot of questions. PBP has a lot of great talent, and you can learn a lot from the people around you.”

Leadership: Off the water and in the office

F&M medalsAnyone who’s participated on a sports team knows that leadership influences a win, and wins come in different ways. In my own experience, I’ve been on soccer and softball teams throughout my childhood, but nothing quite matched the dynamic of Franklin and Marshall College’s rowing team.

We had our victories, our relapses, our challenges and battles. We grew together as a young program, and our coach, Rob Weber, taught us an essential lesson I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life: lateral leadership.

To those unfamiliar with the sport, on the water coxswains give commands, but on land we function like a bee hive. Rigging and derigging, loading the trailers with slings and bow numbers, sorting through nuts and bolts both metric and standard, carrying boats back and forth — Hands on, up over heads — and UP! The calls I used as a coxswain won’t soon be forgotten.

rowing trailer

Our men and women’s team captains were essential, there’s no doubting that. But the responsibilities for a team of 60+ that breaks up into 4s and 8s can’t always be managed by just two people, and so our coach tried showing us a new way of thinking in terms of leadership.

 

Lateral Leadership:

  • When you see a task that needs to be handled, a responsibility that opens itself, it is your role as a team member to see that it is taken care of. This could mean taking direct control. This could mean bringing it to another’s attention. But what this doesn’t mean is letting it go untouched.
  • When you do take control, and own up to the responsibility that’s presented itself, be ready for conflict. Be ready to discuss openly your role on the team, and others’ roles who could also take charge. All in all, from the resolution of this conflict will come the proper division, and respect for everyone’s capabilities. All it takes is communication, trust, and willingness to open up.

Easier said than done? I’ve asked employees, managers, and our CEO of PBP for their take on leadership as well to try and find what it really takes to be a leader.

Ed Satell, CEO: Don’t be cynical. Focus on the positive by maximizing the values in yourself and others. It takes time to be a leader — you need to be a follower first. Ego is a good thing, but don’t let it shadow the wants and needs of others. You have to be able to take the rotten tomatoes when people throw them. But most of all: Be authentic. At the same time, accept the superficiality in people, it can be a good thing, but know when to focus on the real. Make an environment to address real thoughts.

Nicole Riegel, Executive EducationA leader needs to build credibility and trust with his/her team so that the team will become followers for his/her vision.  Due to credibility and trust the team is willing to take some risks and the leader is allowed a few mistakes. A leader should maximizes people’s strengths for the greater good.

Curt Brown, Editorial: A good leader needs to have a clear vision who leads by example rather than by dictating others.

Tim Walls, PGI/PBC: Set priorities by looking at the big picture rather than getting caught up in the day to day. Know your long term goals, and stay on task.

Cheryl Jordan, Product Marketing: A good leader needs to be a good listener who pays attention to people’s individual needs.

Dannie Evans, Media: You yourself as a leader need passion. Saturate yourself in it, and let it drip onto your employees. Have that passion translate into something everyone can take on as their own.

Jess White, Editorial: True leaders motivate and inspire others to do their best work. They listen to everyone’s ideas, and they’re open to trying different suggestions to improve things for the group as a whole. 

There were many others who gave insight into leadership for me, and it’s clear PBP is a place full of potential for the future of this business and beyond. I thank Rob Weber, Ed Satell, and PBP’s Traditions program most of all for these lessons on forming a constructive team.

 

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From Fiesta to Formula Sheets: Adjusting to the Workplace Post Study Abroad

The thrill of studying abroad is hard to beat. Being in a foreign environment constantly keeps the brain active—it has been five months of exploring; taking in culture, language, and delicious food—and you miss it so much that it is sometimes hard to focus (this article explains it pretty well).

All of the positive changes that coincide with living in a different country also come with some negative side effects (which are often unexpected because, well, who reads the fine print?). Thus, there is no doubt that your new found travel bug is making you itch to escape your cubicle.

Here are some simple tips to keep you active and enthusiastic about your work while trying to adjust back to the United States frame of mind.

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Be creative! Design your space in a way that makes you excited to go to work.

1) The first and most important thing to do in avoiding PTSAD (Post Traumatic Study Abroad Disorder) is to find adventure no matter where you are. Revamp the ordinary. Remodel bland. Make yourself known. Maybe decorate your desk, or pack yourself exotic foods for lunch, or add fun themes to Casual Fridays.

Personally, I added an exercise ball to my workspace. Rather than being stationary in a regular office chair all day, the exercise ball keeps me moving and my blood pumping, keeping my brain active and ready for the workload that lies ahead.Get creative with how you want your workspace to look; considering the amount of time you spend in the office every day, it really becomes your second home. On the right are some examples of extraordinary cubicle décor if you are looking for some inspiration.

2) It’s all about attitude.Keeping a positive attitude shows that you appreciate the great opportunities of right now, rather than dwelling on the things you had in the past overseas. Sometimes, all it takes is a smile.When we smile, the muscle memory of this action triggers receptors in our brains that stimulate a feeling of happiness. This phenomenon falls under the facial feedback hypothesis, and was tested by Strack, Martin, and Stepper in 1988.

They created a study testing two groups: one group was instructed to hold a pen in their mouths in a way that caused a frown, and the others held the pen in their mouths horizontally, forcing a smile. Then, both groups were asked to rate cartoons based on how funny they felt they were. The results show that the smiling group consistently found the cartoons to be funnier, indicating that the action of smiling in itself changed the way people perceived the stimuli. This idea can be easily applied to how we experience our work.

3) Use your new perspective to your advantage.Try to apply what you’ve learned to whatever it is that is giving you trouble in the office. The purpose of living abroad is to gain perspective, learn about yourself, and broaden your horizons, so you might as well put all of that newfound knowledge to good use. Make it a personal goal to prove to yourself (and your employer) that you have grown intellectually and extrovertly.  This could be applied to money conservation techniques, confidence in your presentations, extracurricular involvement, intra-office leadership skills, and more.

As Robert Tew once said, “Challenge yourself every day to do better and be better. Remember, growth starts with a decision to move beyond your present circumstances.” And as Hannah Montana once said, “Life’s what you make it, so let’s make it rock.”

Traditions: Advice from the Top

One of the many reasons I decided to intern here at PBP is that interns are truly made to feel part of the company, from the kinds of assignments we are given to our inclusion in work-related events and training.  Like all other new hires, interns participate in “Traditions,” a seven-week orientation program.

During Traditions, we play fun icebreakers to get to know each other, explore our individual strengths and how to enhance them, learn about the history of the company, and receive valuable advice and insight from top PBP executives.

(From l-r): Chris, Kal, Emily, Ashley, Julia, Meredith, Ed, and Alex.

(From l-r): Chris, Kal, Emily, Ashley, Julia, Meredith, Ed, and Alex.

Last week during Traditions, we had the opportunity to have a Q&A session over lunch with Ed Satell, PBP’s CEO, and Tom Schubert, the COO and CFO.  Ed was inspiring when he encouraged us to “create our own realities,” much the way he did when he started PBP.

Ed explained how, while he was pursuing his undergraduate degree at the University of Connecticut, he began working as a china salesman.  After experiencing success at sales, in 1959 Ed founded PBP’s parent company, American Future Systems (AFS).  Then, in the 1980s, PBP was born when Ed expanded into the world of publications.  PBP’s first newsletter, The Selling Advantage, was aimed at helping other business executives do their jobs better.

Since then, PBP has grown substantially, publishing twenty different newsletters, and encompassing many different divisions, such as Progressive Gifts & Incentives and Progressive Business Executive Education.

By telling his own success story, Ed made us feel as though we could also turn our dreams into realities. Ed taught us that to be great leaders, we should always remember to help others, ask more questions than we give answers, stay resilient, and view every experience as a building block to a future goal.

Tom added that mentors can be great resources to interns and other young professionals.  A mentor can be a peer or someone at a higher level, but in either case, you should not hesitate to ask for guidance, or simply to strike up a conversation.   One key aspect of success is to expose yourself to as many ideas, opinions, and job functions as possible.

When we left lunch, we all felt both humbled and empowered and are looking forward to the next Traditions class.

Keep up to date with what we are doing by following us on Twitter.  Make sure to participate in #TriviaTuesday and look out for Phoebe the PBP Polar Bear in #WhereIsItWednesday for your chance to win a prize.

Journey to PBP

Blog Post 5 PictureHi everyone! My name is Rachel Rossini and I am a marketing intern here at Progressive Business Publications representing Villanova University (go cats!). I will be starting my senior year this upcoming semester and will graduate in June with a degree in Marketing and two minors in Psychology and Business Analytics. I am from beautiful Madison, CT, right on the shore of the Long Island Sound. I am currently living in Wayne for the summer to accommodate my job at Progressive Business Publications.

My journey to PBP was a bit unexpected. Coming to the end of my junior year I had planned to live in NYC for the summer and work at a big marketing firm in Manhattan. Partway through April, however, my advisor told me about openings at Progressive Business Publications and how she believed it would be a good fit. I knew living in Wayne where I already had student housing would be much cheaper, so I applied on a limb. When I got a callback and came in for an interview my plans for the summer began to change. I immediately connected with the staff and the atmosphere at PBP. Hooked by the possibility to work closely with a manager and actually be assigned high impact jobs, I continued my interview process, feeling increasingly closer with Progressive Business Publications. My interview with Nicole Riegl, head of the interns program, solidified my choice as we bonded over food blogs and our mutual love for animals.

Although I have known throughout college that I would be a Marketing major, my internship here at Progressive Business Publications is unlike any other job that I’ve had. Following my freshman year at Villanova and a semester abroad in London, I interned for Deb Heinrich, the then not-for-profit liaison to Governor Dannel Molloy of CT. The following summer I landed a once in a lifetime opportunity and trained to become a nurse for a family with two young girls with juvenile diabetes, traveling with the family to Madrid, Barcelona and a camp up in Maine. In addition to these experiences, I have spent the last few summers working as a camp counselor and volunteering for mentor programs designed for unprivileged children. During the school year, I foster family rescued kittens, stay active with my sorority, volunteer for Special Olympics and work for families throughout the Main Line. Clearly, I like to stay busy and jump at any opportunity presented to me, my internship at PBP being no different.

The freedom and opportunities I have been granted at Progressive Business Publications have pushed me to become a more disciplined and intuitive individual. I have had the opportunity to work on a number of projects, from creating landing pages for safety modules to writing a twelve page article for our HR site. My experiences so far have been extremely rewarding, and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the summer brings.