#Winning The Internship: Q&A With Tiger Blood Phil Pallen

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Charlie Sheen recently raised eyebrows for his bizarre (and “winning”) behavior in the media.

In the process, he also dominated social media outlets with his cryptic messages, warranting a need for a social media intern to manage his public persona.

As a result, the “Tiger Blood Internship” race was born, and out of more than 80,000 applications, Canada’s own Phil Pallen placed in the top 50.

“A saturated job market does not prevent someone from getting hired. If they’ve got the right skill set, and the right attitude and drive, it is possible to stand out from the rest.” —Phil Pallen, Media, Information and Technoculture graduate, University of Western Ontario

Phil, a 2010 graduate from the Media, Information and Technoculture program at the University of Western Ontario as well as Full Sail University in Florida, branded himself as “Tiger Blood Phil.”

He gained mass recognition for his campaign, earning him praise for his personal website, Twitter updates, and Facebook followers.

Through his studies and involvement in television broadcasting as well as social media, Phil was able to apply the skills he had learned inside and outside of the classroom to help further his position in the race.

He has decided to put his social media expertise to the test as an intern in Hollywood for a media giant instead of waiting for the final results.

Phil took some time to our answer our questions about branding, social media, and how he worked to make it this far in the media industry.

Q. How did your education and involvement in extra-curricular activities in university help prepare you for the internship competition?
A. I always tell people that what you do outside the classroom is most important. It seems simple, but the moment you get out into the real world you need to show the employer something that sets you apart from the other recent grads. I definitely took full advantage of extra-curricular activities at university. Those are things employers ask about – not about class or degrees.

Q. How important is branding yourself online in today’s media industry?
A. Maybe I’m biased, but I believe it’s one of the most important elements of professionals today. As I’m giving you quotes, I’m branding myself through what I say (and how I say it). It’s a part of everything you do and it’s increasingly more important now that our identities exist digitally. It’s no secret that people like beautiful design and relevant content. Branding is simply navigating one’s self through the possibilities of identity, and developing one that is striking, attractive and, most importantly, relevant. These are all things I think about when I brand myself or brand a client. It’s a lot of fun.

Q. Did you ever expect to get this much attention for your Tiger Blood Phil campaign?
A. I absolutely did not expect it. On the other hand, I was ready for it. The timing was great because 6 months prior, I switched my personal brand up and finished my new website, demo reel and portfolio. So then I was flooded with press, but it was great because I got a ton of exposure. I loved every second of it and I thanked everyone who supported me individually from the beginning of my campaign. That’s a big part of it.

Q. On your resumé, you describe yourself as “versatile.” Why?
A. Talk to people who got laid off two years ago during the recession. In many cases, two jobs were combined into one to save companies money. People who are versatile in the workforce and take advantage of it every day are less likely to get laid off or fired. I tell people that a saturated job market does not prevent someone from getting hired. If they’ve got the right skill set, and the right attitude and drive, it is possible to stand out from the rest. It’s worked for me. When you are hired, the goal then is to become too valuable for your employer to ever think about getting rid of you.

Q. What advice can you give to students and grads who want to get into the media field and do what you do?
A. Get ready for fierce competition, but don’t let it dissuade you from pursuing your dreams. I don’t know what will happen tomorrow job-wise, or anything-wise. Neither do you. So make sure you spend today preparing yourself for what might come fast. Don’t wait for opportunity. Seek it. Think long and hard about how you want to be interpreted by others, and develop a brand that is distinct, likeable, attractive, and you. Image is a big part of the industry. Combine it with an eager, humble attitude and passion, and you’ll be destined for success.

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