Job Interview Thank You Notes: Navigating the Etiquette

So, I graduated a few weeks ago. It was a fun, frightening, mostly exciting experience and I’m very lucky that I got to walk at commencement with a few of my best friends. Our commencement speaker was Katie Couric and she was awesome.

Two days after graduation, I got a job offer that I was thrilled to accept. I’ve officially moved to New York and starting working last week at my dream job with the agency I interned for last summer. While I was overwhelmingly sad to leave D.C. and my friends, I know that this job is the beginning of the career I’ve been preparing myself for over the past four years.

As I’ve spent a lot of time navigating the “hire me” process over the past few months, interview etiquette has been on my mind (although, it kind of always is…that’s why I write this blog). One thing that I find incredibly important that often goes unnoticed is the thank you note after an interview. Because there’s lots of conflicting information out there, I decided to break down my top tips for sending thank you notes after an internship interview or job interview.

TinyPrints thank you card

1. Handwritten vs. Email

A lot of people will tell you handwritten thank you cards are outdated, and a lot of people will tell you email thank you notes are impersonal and a product of our instant-gratification generation. In my opinion, both of these claims are false.

For a phone/skype interview: A thank you email is appropriate. A card in the mail will take too long (especially since it’s likely that a phone or skype interview is taking place with a company in another city). You want to send an email within 24 hours thanking the employer.

For an in-person interview: You have two options.

Option #1: Send a thank you email later that same day, and put a thank you card in the mail within a day or two.

Option #2 (my personal favorite option): Bring thank you cards to the interview. Afterwards, find a Starbucks and sit down and write them. Put them in a mailbox within a few blocks of the office to ensure same-day or next-day delivery!

2. The Physical Thank You Card

Do not buy a thank you card in the Greeting Cards aisle of Duane-Reade unless it is blank! Here are examples of cards that are designated as “Thank You Cards” but should not be given to a potential employer.

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The reason these cards are inappropriate is because they’re too casual and also personal. Your thank you cards should either have a simple picture on the front with no words and a blank inside, or the words “Thank You”/”Thanks” on the front with a blank inside. I partnered with Tiny Prints again to design classic personalized thank you cards for use in professional situations. I love how they turned out!


3. What to Write

Be genuine and genuinely grateful. Don’t sell yourself short – it IS a big deal that you got this interview, and this thank you card can help seal the deal. Here are my tips:

– Start by thanking them (duh) but that’s not the most important part, so keep it brief

– Include the job title and responsibilities – and remind them that you are excited about this, as well as prepared to do a great job

– Reference something – or several things – you discussed in the interview

– Keep it brief

Here’s a sample:


Thank you so much for the opportunity to interview with you today for the Assistant Account Executive position. I really appreciate you taking the time to tell me about XYZ company and how the AAE role fits into the structure of your team. I was particularly excited to hear that the AAE has the opportunity to do pitching and gets to work across a variety of brands, because I’m very passionate about media relations and I believe my skills in this area can add value to your team.

I also loved hearing about your favorite client activation that you’ve worked on. The X event for CLIENT sounds like something I would love to be involved with. Thank you again for considering me for this position. I hope to have the opportunity to work with you in the near future.

All the best,


I hope these tips help you in your job/internship interview process! If you have any other thank you card recommendations, leave them in the comments or tweet @staceyalevine!

“What Should I Include in a Writing Sample?” + Other Career Questions Answered

As some of you know, I intern for a global PR agency, and this week we had a fantastic opportunity: Debbie Wong, a leadership development expert, taught a career development workshop in which she answered our toughest questions about the job search, networking, resumes, cover letters, writing samples, interviews, negotiations, and pretty much everything in between.


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 All of us who attended the session are graduating in May from either undergrad or grad school, so the tips were particularly focused on the means to the end: securing a job. But for those of you applying/interviewing for internships, or simply maintaining a strong network, Debbie’s advice is definitely universal.

It’s no secret that I love this stuff, so I wanted to pass along my key takeaways from Debbie’s workshop.

What is a corporate university and why should I care? 

A corporate university is a training program that a company sets in place to encourage constant learning and development for its employees. Corporate universities show that a company values its employees and also prioritizes continuing education, which is vital to any changing field. Debbie advises to ask about a company’s corporate university in your interview to get a sense of their values as an organization.

I’ve been to some networking events. How can I stay in contact with the people I met? How do I turn those contacts into job prospects?

Immediately after the event, email the people you met or connect with them on LinkedIn to follow up. Remind them of what you discussed. Set up alerts in your calendar every 6 months or so to remind yourself to reach out to your contacts who you haven’t spoken with in a while. When you come across relevant article, send them their way with a brief note – “Saw this and thought of you!” Ask to hear more about their job and the career path they took to get there, otherwise known as an informational interview. Let them know you’re interested in the industry and are actively seeking jobs, but don’t take advantage of their mentorship.

Any tips for creating a great resume?

  • Begin your bullet points with strong active verbs in the past tense like “developed,” “managed,” “designed,” “created,” “initiated,” etc. Speaking of bullet points, use them – not paragraphs.
  • Debbie recommends including a brief summary/objective line at the top of your resume, below your header, such as, “Seeking work in agency PR in the consumer/lifestyle industry, with 4 years of relevant experience”
  • Never just put “intern” as your title! Your title should describe your job function: “Public Relations Intern” or “Graphic Design Intern”
  • The order goes title, company, date
  • Your resume should convey that you are strategic, critical, a self-starter, & can follow orders
  • Your skills section doesn’t only need to include technical skills (like InDesign), it can/should also include strategic skills (like Leadership)


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What should I include in a writing sample?

When a company asks for a writing sample, include a variety of options that showcase the breadth and depth of your skill set. Anything that is visually appealing is a plus! A mix of academic + internship projects, press releases, pitch letters, flyer designs, etc. should serve you well.

How do I write a cover letter?

Don’t make it longer than a page. Write about your work experiences and how they translate to the job you’re applying for. Pick out key job responsibilities from the job listing and speak to them directly. End with a call to action – for example, “I would love the opportunity to discuss my qualifications with you. I can be reached at [xyz]. I look forward to hearing from you.”

What am I looking for in a job package besides salary?

A offer package consists of more than your salary (which is, of course, important). It also can include everything from benefits, to tuition reimbursements, to paid time off (PTO). And of course, it depends on what you value. Perhaps you’ll be willing to accept a salary that’s lower than your goal in exchange for tons of paid vacation days. Debbie noted that your priorities will change in your 20s, 30s, 40s, and beyond, and what you negotiate for may change from job to job.



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 How do I negotiate my salary?

I actually found a great article about this via Levo League about salary negotiations that I recommend checking out. Additional advice: try to avoid writing a salary amount in your cover letter/application. If the interviewer offers an amount, don’t just accept it – this lowers your value. People will not always give you more; you need to ask for it!


“Career variety helps you in your learning agility” – Debbie Wong


Do you have any pressing questions about career development? Leave them in the comments!

Interview Outfits: Dress For the Job You Want…Within Reason

For my final college semester I’m taking a class called PR Portfolio, which is essentially a public relations capstone class where we work in teams to create a PR program for an actual client. The class is amazing and my professor is fantastic – it’s basically a culmination of everything I’ve learned in AU’s School of Communication over the past four years. Another great thing the class does is prepare us for the “real world” – whatever that means. Each week my prof hosts Career Corner, where she tackles another topic we’ll need for after graduation, such as negotiating a salary, turning an internship into a full time job, etc. It’s pretty fab. 1

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Last week, we discussed interview outfits. How do you dress to interview for a job in a field where each company’s dress code is vastly different? The professor showed us the following visual as a depiction of an appropriate PR interview outfit. 3

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A lot of the class, myself included, had some major problems with it. One classmate brought up the point that she would feel like a child dressing in her mother’s clothes in an outfit like this. Another mentioned that in an office where your interviewer might be rocking jeans and flip-flops, this seems off-message and inappropriately formal. I’ve interviewed and interned in many different office environments – I’ve worn outfits at different jobs that range from jeans and a t-shirt, to sky-high strappy heels, to corporate dresses. But at none of these jobs would a suit have been an appropriate interview outfit choice.

So stop rambling, Stacey, and tell us what we should wear, right? PR is a professional but creative field, and we need to represent our personal brand when interviewing. The outfit you choose is a huge part of that. Here’s how I feel about every interview (in the PR industry, to be fair) – dress professionally, dress appropriately, show your style & creativity. There’s a difference between being casual and being stylish.

Here’s my typical interview outfit formula: black/grey/white dress + blazer + memorable necklace + closed-toe pumps + leather purse = a foolproof interview outfit

On top of that, the clothes you wear need to be of good quality (note: not necessarily expensive, just good quality!), ironed, fit you appropriately, and they should also be comfortable! If you can’t walk in heels, please god, just wear flats (clean, leather or patent leather, black or neutral flats). Now, of course, you can always wear a skirt/blouse or pants/blouse combo, which is just as good! For tops, I recommend silk, tie neck or button down, etc. Dresses are just my outfit of choice – no tucking/bunching to deal with!

Still not sure what to wear? Check out some options for Strategy in Stilettos-approved interview styles below!





Necklaces: Statement/Delicate

interview appropriate statement necklaces

delicate understated necklaces for job interviews





I’d love to hear/see what you wear to internship + job interviews, and what types of outfits you think are appropriate. Share in the comments or tweet @staceyalevine!

GIVEAWAY: U Chic’s Diploma Diaries

Hi all! Hope everyone is having a great summer!

I know that lots of you are post-grads, and whether you’ve landed your dream job, you’re still doing the job search thang (did you just say thang?), or you’re heading off to grad school (or Europe?) or anything in between, I’ve got something to help you out!


Christie Garton, founder of University Chic (the girl’s guide to college life), has come out with a new book!


U Chic’s Diploma Diaries: The Chic Grad’s Guide to Work, Love and Everything In Between is a guide packed with true stories, tips, and tricks for the adventure that is life after college! The book includes everything from dealing with living arrangements, first jobs, dating essentials, being healthy and happy, the social scene and making friends post-graduation, and, last but not least, money matters. It also features inspirational stories from real women on finding success post-college.

The book offers helpful tips on all areas of post-grad life. Some of my favorite topics from the book include “From Intern to Full-Time Employee” (written by an American University grad – sup!), “My Mentor Made All the Difference,” “Reconnecting with Those College Passions,” “A Trip of a Lifetime,” “I Chose Graduate School, But On My Terms,” and “How I Live on a Budget and Still Live Fabulously.”

Want a chance to read all about it for yourself? You can buy the book on Amazon – or you can enter the giveaway by CLICKING HERE!

The giveaway will be open from 8/12-8/23. You must live in the USA or Canada to enter.

Disclosure: I was gifted a copy of U Chic’s Diploma Diaries c/o Sourcebooks

PR Agency PRofile: Large Global Agency

Last week I had the wonderful opportunity to attend, through American University’s School of Communication, a lunch + learn site visit trip to a large international PR firm. The agency’s original office is located in Washington, DC – one of its 90 global offices – so we headed to Farragut Square last Wednesday for a visit.

Our group of 20 students had the opportunity to sit around a boardroom table, eating pizza and listening to presentations by various employees of the agency. We heard from a Senior VP, VP, Account Exec, and Asst. Account Exec, from four different departments. They really gave us a comprehensive looks at the values of the agency, the specific responsibilities of each department, the structure of account teams, and the factors that go into the entry level hiring process.

The trip was hugely helpful to me, so I’d like to share with you all some of the key insights and takeaways I learned today!


1. Research is key. Analytics plays a huge role in shaping PR campaigns, because you want the work you’re doing to yield measurable results.

2. If you want to work in digital, you should naturally live + breathe a digital lifestyle outside of work. Otherwise, you won’t be up to date on the latest social media platforms, news, and technologies.

3. Hiring at agencies depends on winning bids for new business. Follow the news surrounding the agencies you want to work for – when they get new accounts, they’re more likely to be hiring.

4. When you need to send writing samples for an agency application, send: press releases, pitch letters, and online portfolios.

5. When interviewing for a job, there are a few things that can set you apart: a can-do attitude, willingness to go the extra mile, a flawlessly written resume/cover letter, showing that you’re a team player, and a good dose of common sense.

6. Things that won’t get you hired? Attitude/arrogance, vagueness and lack of detail in an interview, and being all talk and no content.

My New Online Portfolio

My New Online Portfolio

Today a friend sent me an invitation to join a website in its beta phase: After playing around with it for a few hours, I’m hooked. It’s an extremely user-friendly website that allows you to create an attractive online portfolio, something that is so important to have, especially when you’re applying for internships and jobs!

Click this link to check out the online portfolio I created – and if you’d like me to send you an invitation to try out the site, leave your email address in the comments!

Mastering the Phone Interview: 10 Tips to Help You Succeed

It’s March again, which means many of you are probably in the process of interviewing for summer internships. In the summer internship world, February is application month, March is interview month, and April is find out and decide month! Often college students will be applying for internships in cities other than where they attend school, which brings us to today’s topic: The Phone Interview.

I’ve heard from so many people that they dread the phone interview, but for some reason, I love it! In my opinion, the phone interview allows you to be the most prepared. Here are my top 10 tips for mastering the phone interview!


1. Do your research on the company, the position, and the interviewer. I like to read through a company’s case studies and choose my favorite, that way I can reference it when I’m asked why I’d like to work for that company. Your answer to this question should reflect why you want to work for their company, not just in the field of, say, PR. Also make sure to have a compete understanding of the job qualifications, that way you can show why you’re the best fit! I also like to look at my interviewer on the company website and/or LinkedIn, so I can get a sense of their professional background and interests.

2. Mirror the company’s phrasing. From your research, you’ll gather that each company has their own way of referring to clients, meetings, continued learning, internship programs, etc. Prove to the company that you fit in by mirroring the language they use!

3. Set up a phone interview kit. When I’m doing a phone interview, I like to sit at my dining room table. In front of me I have a notebook and pen to take notes, a glass of water, a copy of my resume and any other application materials I’ve submitted, and a list of the questions I’m going to ask at the end of the interview. I also like to have my laptop in front of me, with the company’s website and internship description in front of me. It helps me feel more comfortable and allows me to reference specific details of the job!

4. Prepare strong questions. These questions aren’t just to prove you’re interested – you want to make sure you’d enjoy working for this company, too! Some of my favorite questions to ask on an interview are: “What has been your favorite client/account to work on?” “What is the company culture/atmosphere?” “What are some of the qualities exhibited by your best interns in the past?” “How are account teams structured; do interns work primarily with one client, or several?” I also research the company and ask any questions about their specific programs that I’d like to know – be specific!

5. Prepare strong answers. You’ll never know exactly what an interviewer will ask, but there are definitely ways to prepare anyway. “Tell me about yourself” is an opportunity to showcase your strengths, passions, and dedication – not just tell them what they can read on your resume. Some other questions I like to prepare for are: “What stood out to you about our company?” “Why did you become interested in this field?” “What are some of the publications/blogs you read regularly?”

6. Dress the part. Yes, this is important for a phone interview, as well! If you’re too casual, you won’t feel the need to be as professional, especially since they can’t see you. Dress the way you want to feel: prepared!

top with basic bottom

7. Smile. It will help you sound friendly and also let your personality come across, which can sometimes be a challenge on the phone!

8. Volume, then silent. Leave your phone on full volume to make sure you don’t miss the interviewer’s call, but then flip the switch to silent as soon as you answer. You don’t want the “ding!” of a text message to come through, causing you to miss the interviewer’s question!

9. Prepare your environment. Use the lighting, room temperature, and chair that makes you feel most comfortable for this setting. Make sure not to start your washing machine or dishwasher right before the interview, and if you have any roommates, let them know you’ll be interviewing so they can keep quiet, too!

10. Email your thank-you note. Thank-you note emails have become much more acceptable in recent years (instead of, or in addition to handwritten ones), but especially with a phone interview, an email is necessary. They will definitely make a decision before your handwritten letter will reach them, so I like to send my thank-you email within 3 hours.

How do you prepare for a phone interview? Let me know in the comments or tweet @staceyalevine!