How I Landed My Gig

Get creative and stand out above the rest to win your dream job

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Renita Burns recreated a section of Black Enterprise magazine to land the job. (Click image to enlarge.)

Time was winnowing down. Graduation was just a few months away and of the dozens of job and internship applications I sent out, the offers were nonexistent. Frantic, I re-strategized.

A mentor I spoke to throughout the application process had given me a piece of advice that I decided to try: “Don’t be afraid to try something different and show who you really are. That way if you don’t get the job, it means you weren’t meant to work on the company anyway.”

She was right.

Instead of sending out mass resumes and cover letters — merely switching the name of the employer on the cover letter, I decided to tailor each cover letter to the company.

But there was one company in particular I had my eyes set on — Black Enterprise. For me, Black Enterprise would be the perfect opportunity to merge my passion for economics, finance, government, and journalism.

The idea came to me like a 3 a.m. lightbulb moment. I remembered that each month the magazine’s Backt Talk section featured public figures discussing an issue or cause dear to them. I decided to recreate the section to feature me, discussing my passion for business journalism and financial literacy. I spent hours in the computer lab flipping through months of issues trying to model my recreation down to the exact font and burgundy red hue.

Months had passed. It was March — less than two months until graduation –  and I was still jobless and without an internship, on my parents couch during spring break. Then I received a call from Black Enterprise asking to come in for an interview.

The next day, I headed to New York City, ideas and questions in tow. After an insightful interview I found out the company was looking to boost its online presence. Eureka! After proposing a few online ideas I had, and running through my list of questions, the interview -which felt more like a great conversation- went well.

I was offered the internship on the spot. After a great summer and a lot of hard work, I landed a job on the Interactive staff.

Have you ever stepped outside the box when applying for a position? If so, how? What is the best job search advice you’ve received?

Also, check out my article onClever Ways to Land the Interview.

09 Interns2

Subject: Interns Class 2008

Burns, seated far right, and her fellow interns. (Click image to enlarge.)


Renita Burns is the editorial assistant at

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  • This is really great advice. I am a PR professional who was laid off from my position back in March 2009. I was so devastated because I was so passionate about my job but being the only minority at a PR firm really didn’t save me.

    Since day one I’ve been searching for jobs day after day in the field of public relations. Everyday I continue to better myself, and I change my cover letter and resume for every company I apply to. I’ve landed some interviews but things just didn’t work out. I think that is GOD’s way of preparing me for something better.

    Right now, I’m currently freelancing as a writer and PR consultant. Everything I do for my clients I give 100% effort because I want to prove everyday to myself that I AM A GREAT PR PROFESSIONAL.

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