Industry Spotlight: Kelly Howard

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Tell me a little bit about yourself and your experience.

KH:I currently oversee consumer fashion, beauty and lifestyle in the LA office of Post+Beam, playing a key role in new business development, and execution of media, social media and event programs for a diverse client roster. Every day of my job is truly unique, and having the opportunity to work with a variety of clients, create PR and marketing strategies that work for their business, and see how our work ultimately contributes to their bottom line is something I thrive on.


How did you get your start in the industry?

KH: I’m originally from MN, but made the move out to NY for an internship during college. My first internship was with Alan Taylor Public Relations in New York – I was put on the Diageo Liquors account team, pitching a variety of accounts including Smirnoff, Guinness and Jose Cuervo to various outlets. After graduation, I made the move to LA for my first job in fashion PR with a small, boutique agency. It was there I learned an incredible amount about the ins and outs of pitching and what it takes to elevate a small brand in the eyes of the press.


What are the top three traits you look for in interns?

KH: Enthusiasm, communication and common sense. As an intern, you’re not expected to know much, but you are here to learn. We want you to be enthusiastic to take on any task, effectively communicate where you at with your assigned responsibilities (and when you have a question), and the savvy and common sense to understand the bigger picture.


What are the most common mistakes you see interns make?

KH: Lack of communication. Interns are often scared to ask questions and therefore fail to complete assigned tasks effectively or on-time. Additionally, senior team members sometimes get busy with their daily work and forget to explain how smaller tasks contribute to the larger project at hand. As a result, that small task may not seem important to the intern, and therefore not get done in a timely manner. It falls back on the senior team to explain why certain tasks are being assigned, so that interns can not only learn but also understand the importance of deadlines.


Biggest intern pet-peeves?

KH: Lack of communication (sensing a theme yet?)


What do you look for in a cover letter? A catchy introduction or a to-the-point statement?

KH: A catchy introduction is always good, as long as it’s not too over the top. I also look at a cover letter to see someone’s writing style, or to convince me of their experience if their resume can’t speak for itself.


Do you recommend interns paste their cover letter in the body of the email or attach it?

KH: I prefer it in the body of the email. One of my biggest pet peeves with intern applications is an email with two attachments (cover letter and resume) and nothing in the body of the email.


What’s your stance on the one-page resume “rule?” Do you trash those that go over?

KH: I’m indifferent. I’ll read both pages, but just make sure that your experience warrants two pages, and that everything you’ve listed is relevant to the internship for which you’re applying.


How important is email etiquette to you?

KH: Incredibly important! Not only with the initial cover letter, but the follow up emails as you schedule your interview. Take the time and care to be just as professional and spell check with every email thereafter.


What are the biggest interview turn-offs?

KH: First impressions last a lifetime – be sure to arrive on time, dressed appropriately and always, always bring a copy of your resume.


What would you tell the intern wondering why he or she didn’t get the position?

KH: If an applicant isn’t offered a position, it’s usually because they aren’t a fit. However, sometimes it has to do with lack of availability or timing issues.


What would you advise interns to wear on the job?

KH: Follow office dress code, but always err on the side of professional. For example, even if the office team shows up super casual, always good to show up a little more dressed up. You’re there to impress.


Have you had a mentor and/or act as a mentor? If so, what’s been your experience?

KH: Yes to both! Mentors are a great opportunity to learn and be inspired! I’ve had the opportunity to mentor a few individuals, helping to make introductions where I can, review  resumes, as well as just be a sounding board for ideas and frustrations. For those I’ve mentored, seeing them move up from internships to professionals has been a truly rewarding experience.


We all want to know. Do you stalk intern candidates on social media before hiring them?

KH: Yes! Be aware of your social presence and what’s private vs. public.  And a new one that I’ve recently started paying attention to – your Google + picture. It shows up when you send through your resume and cover letter – I’ve seen some crazy ones and it definitely makes an impression.


What differentiates an average intern from a superstar intern?

KH: The ability to think ahead, contribute new ideas, and always going above and beyond the task given.


How would you advise an intern to turn their position into a full-time job?

KH: Staying in communication with the leadership, not only your immediate supervisor but the person who will ultimately do the hiring (if applicable). Make sure you ask for feedback, ask questions, and should a position not be available at the completion of your internship, stay in touch!


What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

KH: Always manage expectation, it will set everyone up for success.


What’s the best piece advice you could give an intern?

KH: Take advantage of every opportunity, no matter how small! Every task you’re given, no matter how mundane, has a meaning. Take it upon yourself to learn what it is and how it contributes to the bigger picture.


Closing thoughts?

KH: Internships are an amazing opportunity to get your foot in the door – do as many as you can!



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