Full Name: Caryn Schoenbeck
Educational background (school, degree, majors, additional training, etc.): Bachelor of Arts with a major in Journalism from The University of Illinois
Current Position: Senior Account Executive
Tell us about your job and daily responsibilities: It’s so varied! Some days, I’m at my desk drilling out press releases and media pitches like my life depends on it. Other days, I’m out of the office for client meetings or events. Ultimately, my job is to get my clients the best press possible in a variety of ways, whether that is straight pitching, events, or deskside trips with editors. Right now, I’m the direct client contact for five accounts, so I am responsible for everything from big-picture planning to day-to-day account management. Sometimes, I feel like outsiders believe we sit around all day and gossip, while getting pedicures and drinking mimosas. That makes me chuckle, because it is such a distorted perception. We work really hard!
What was your first job out of college and how did you land that position? I interned at Weber Shandwick. In the field of PR, it is standard operation to intern post-college before you get your first full-time offer. I worked on accounts like the Corn Refiners Association and the Got Milk! campaign. The essence of glamour, right? I was only there for a short time before I was offered a job at a local boutique lifestyle agency.
How did you come to work for Skirt? Pure luck. Before I started, I applied to Skirt more than a few times, to no avail. All I really wanted to do was work at Skirt (when my mind gets stuck on an idea, I can’t escape from it). Then one Friday evening, I was viewing an apartment that I found on Craigslist before going out for the night. During the viewing, the current tenant was asking me what I do for a living. I told her I was in public relations, and she casually mentioned that her friend owned Skirt PR. I think my reaction to her was, “I would die to work at Skirt PR.” A lot of passion from someone who takes pride in playing it cool. Two days later, the girl contacted me over Craigslist, told me that Skirt might be hiring, and gave me Adrienne’s contact information. I called Adrienne’s cell phone at 9 p.m. on a Tuesday, stayed up all night preparing my resume and placement book, and met her at 8 a.m. the next morning. The following Monday, I started at Skirt. I’ve been here three years now.
What characteristics would you say are essential to do your position (account management in fashion PR)? The ability to multi-task and manage many projects at any given time. Being able to handle stressful situations well. Extreme creativity and the drive to work harder and provide even bigger results every day that I am here.
What advice would you give to your 23-year-old self? Relish the moment—wherever you are is PERFECT. You have been guided there! And when you think it is time for a big change, remember that you will be given exactly what you need, exactly when you need it. Trust the process.
Favorite budget-friendly brand? I just started sewing my own wardrobe, so that’s probably the most budget-friendly brand I subscribe to. I’ve made five dresses and a skirt so far (including the dress I’m wearing in the photos).
Full Name: Claire Perkins
Educational background (school, degree, majors, additional training, etc.): Bachelor of Science from University of Arizona
Current Position: Social Media Director
Tell us about your job and daily responsibilities: I direct the strategic coordination of social media accounts for Skirt PR and our clients. In a nutshell, my job involves big-picture planning, managing communities and generating growth for Skirt PR and specific clients within the digital space. My day-to-day duties include managing dozens of social media accounts, designing collateral and blog posts, building WordPress blogs and sites, writing (and writing and writing), filming and editing videos and experimenting with new networks for our company and clients to exist in.
What was your first job out of college and how did you land that position? I definitely had to talk my way into my first job—a job, frankly, that was a reach for me. I had a friend working as an editor at an Arizona-based luxury magazine publishing house, and she suggested I apply for an ad sales position. Instead, I found a job description on the Web site for the “Director of Communications,” a managing position responsible for community outreach, PR, special events, promotions, projects and networking for all the magazine titles the company published.
I e-mailed my resume to the Publisher, who quickly replied “Thanks but no thanks, you have no experience.” I then shot back a list of all the reasons why I had what it took, even without a month of professional experience. A plane ride and ten hour-long interview later (which involved difficult questions, client meetings and a cocktail party at a golf course where I had to show off my networking prowess), I had the job. Well, they created a junior version of the job for me, which quickly grew into a more important role. When I moved five years later and had to say goodbye, I left as VP & Executive Publisher of the company.
How did you come to work for Skirt? When I moved to Chicago I knew only one friend, but my dad was able to connect me with a colleague’s daughter who works in PR here in the city. I worked for her for a few weeks, and in exchange she sent my resume to friends at different companies, including Skirt PR.
Adrienne at Skirt replied to an e-mail that was sent. She was looking to expand Skirt’s social media space, and luckily, my resume was very heavy in digital and social media. After a quick interview I was brought on as an outside contractor a few days a week. I worked on Skirt’s social media accounts and the accounts of clients, and built a blog for the company. After a month or so of upward trends, I was brought on full-time.
I think it’s a very valuable lesson—every position I’ve held had has been created for me and my skill set. It’s so important to stick to your guns and do what you love and are best at, even if you don’t see openings available that fit. People will find a way to work with you!
What characteristics would you say are essential to do your position (both social media and fashion PR)? There are so many people out there with different tactics and approaches when it comes to PR and social media, which is what keeps it interesting. Without a doubt, though, creativity is most important. There are endless people out there with the ability to “re-pin” photos and the organizational skills to hold cocktail parties. Setting yourself apart with an original and distinctive take on a project or brand is what makes the difference.
What advice would you give to your 23-year-old self? To have more confidence in my abilities. I spent the first five years of my career with heart palpitations and numb legs from all the pressure I put on myself. But very rarely, if ever, did I drop the ball. Also, try to find a balance in life and compartmentalize work and play. You’ll work your hardest when you’re young, but if you are enjoying life, your work will be so much more inspired. There’s no reason to e-mail clients at 1 a.m. every night or toss and turn at night about an event that’s months away.
Favorite budget-friendly brand? Zara times a million. To the millionth power.