Header photo by Hamish Grant. Used with permission.

Friday, February 11, 2011

What the intern really thinks about your company

In the Australian spring (Canadian autumn), I ventured down under to take a public relations internship with Burson-Marsteller Australia.

My experience proved to be extremely worthwhile, enjoyable and full of learning opportunities.

After my internship ended, I was asked by the Asia-Pacific CEO, Bob Pickard to guest post my reflections on the entire experience. He instructed me to be honest. He invited me to challenge his readers - many of whom are the people who make decisions about interns and internships.

What I came up with was a reflection piece entitled: "What the intern REALLY thinks about your company," where I laid out and explained five main observations about interns and internships:

1. Your intern has something to contribute, value to add, ideas to table.

2. Your intern doesn't expect a lot.

3. Your intern is investing in you and your company.

4. Your intern believes his or her time is worth something.

5. Your intern will talk about his or her intern experience with his or her intern friends.

Please give it a read and let me know what you think. Is there anything that you would add? Does what I've said reflect your intern experience?

Your can read the blog post at:


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Men of Movember I Salute You (Especially You, Dad)

I’m writing from the heartland of the mo’.

No, it’s not where the moustache was pioneered; but it is the birthplace of Movember, a month-long event where men around the world unite to wear a mark of distinction. A sign of class. A vestige of manliness.

As the story goes, a few guys in Melbourne (pronounced here in Oz: Melbuuuhn) were sitting around, enjoying a few beers. They lamented the absence of the moustache. The resolved to bring it back. They partnered with Prostate Cancer charities, and started a movement. Just a few short years later, and Movember has to date raised millions of dollars, and helped spread the word about men’s health.

But that’s not what I’m writing about.

I want to share the story of my dear ol’ dad, who braved something that he has not done since he was 16 years old: a bare upper lip.

You see, while most Movember participants grow their moustaches for the month of Movember; my dad, who has always sported a moustache of some kind, decided that he needed to up the ante. He was starting fresh. Clean-shaven. A new man.

My mother had never actually seen dad without a moustache before. Another first.

Scientists, I hear, were clamouring to get to the Sandor residence to be the first to run carbon dating and other tests on flesh that had not been exposed since the late 1960s.

To my dad – congratulations on a month of fresh growth. May your moustache be like a tree, pruned in the autumn so that new growth may spring forth!

To all the other mo' bros out there: Well done. The weeks of mothers ushering their children past you; the raising eyebrows in the mall; the rejection and ridicule from your significant other are behind you. And you're all the more manly for it.

It’s not too late: you can still donate to this Movember pioneer and first-time participant … my dad … Thomas Sandor. To do so, visit my dad's mo-space.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Still want to get promoted in PR?

Remember that little piece that I wrote on "How to get promoted in PR (with the help of social media)?"

Someone very clever in the Burson-Marsteller Asia-Pacific office re-purposed it to go into a SlideShare presentation.

If you thought the original article was too wordy and gave up, you're in luck.  It's now available for your viewing pleasure, condensed into a slide show.

Monday, November 8, 2010

How to get promoted - with a social media twist

I am an intern.

I like to help people with things.

I enjoy brainstorming sessions.

I'm humbled when I'm asked for advice.

As someone who has been in the workforce for a little while, then went back to school, and am now back at the bottom of the business hierarchy (again), I've been thinking a lot about adding value to my workplace, doing more and how to make myself indispensable.

It all boils down to two things, I think.



In keeping with the spirit of Pizza Friday (community, connectedness, creativity and collaboration), and in line with these two ideas, I wrote a guest blog post that was picked up by an Australian media and marketing blog.

The subject: How to get promoted ... with a social media twist.

Mind you, I have only ever been promoted once. That promotion, I actually turned down to go back to school.  I'm not an expert, which is why I leaned very heavily on the words and advice of the co-founder of my employ - William Marsteller.

Call it a collaboration - over 40 years with a PR giant.

It has resonated strongly with the Burson-Marsteller community.

It took a little creativity to bring it around to social media.

But it in the end, it's all about connectedness.

Give the article a read, and let me know what you think!


All the best,


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Camp Changes Lives: How Kintail Changed Mine

 I first attended Camp Kintail in 1994. I was 9 years old. It was my mom who convinced my brother and I to go. We really didn't want to camp - she did. She'd met one of the assistant directors while on vacation with my dad (we kids weren't invited to this one), and casually asked if the camp ever needed nurses. They did. Badly. A few weeks later, brochures and information arrived in the mail.  My brother and I weren't impressed. Singing around campfires? Arts and crafts? Please. Low ropes courses and canoeing sounded kind of cool, but weren't all that alluring compared with a summer of endless (original 8-bit) Nintendo!

Mom eventually won, and we packed up and left for camp. She was eager to go. My brother and I? Not so much.

After an eight-hour car ride from Ottawa, we arrived at camp: nervous, apprehensive, unprepared for what to expect. We were greeted by a brood of excited camp counselors. Their enthusiasm was contagious.  Before I knew it, I was whisked away to my cabin, sleeping and duffel bags in tow.  I chose a bottom bunk.  The cabin filled up with other boys my age.  Most of them, I discovered, were first-timers like me.

My first week at camp flew by. My counselors were committed, hard-working guys who I really admired. They were cool. They were fun.  They seemed so old, so mature (they were actually 17 and 18)!  It turns out that the campfires, songs, arts and crafts were a lot better than expected.

That week, I fell in love with Lake Huron's sunsets. I delighted in the smell of a cedar forest. I learned how to shoot an arrow and roast the perfect marshmallow. I marveled at the vastness of on endless sky full of stars.  There is no place like this camp.

Moments after my cabin-mates all said goodbye, my brother and I were back in the van, being driven down the camp lane.  We begged to go back to camp the next summer, and our return was arranged before we reached the highway.

I've been back to camp every summer since. I was a camper for seven years, a participant in the leader-in-training program for one, and a staff member for five years. I've also been back as a visitor and volunteer since.

Camp has been a formative place for me. The most formative place. 

This weekend, I visited camp to attend the Staff Commissioning. This was an open house event in which the camp community came together in support of the 2010 camp staff (many of whom are my former campers).  The moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Canada blessed the staff. Past staff, camp supporters, parents and friends of Kintail came together to enjoy a day at camp to kick off the summer.

After spending the day at commissioning,  I spent a lot of time reflecting on my own camp experiences, thinking especially of the first-year staff. When I was 17 - the age of many of these staff members - I didn't understand the gravity of the job. I didn't fully get that I was assuming the role of my first two counselors from 1994 - people who catalyzed the most life-changing period of my life.

Being a camp counselor is a tremendously important job.

These camp staff will be the caretakers of hundreds of children this summer. They will be nearly-instant role models and mentors. Their impact can be profound.

It's my hope that this summer they get the support that they need; that they understand how important this job is; and that they treat it as such.

To the 2010 Camp Kintail staff: This summer, there will be first time campers who are nervous, apprehensive, and not too keen on singing camp songs. You have the ability to bring them out of their shells.  You have the ability to show them the magic of a crackling fire and the joy of dipping a paddle into Lake Huron. You can be the reason they come back year after year and eventually come to meet their future bridesmaids and groomsmen.  You can catalyze lasting change in the lives of children.  You can.

Good luck this summer. I'll be thinking about you.

Zack "Zenith" Sandor-Kerr