How You Made Me a Fast Horse

Well, it’s official — I got the Fast Horse Inc. internship thanks to the 725 people who “Liked” my video on Facebook. For those of you who didn’t get to see it:

I’ll never be able to give each one of those people a proper thanks, but I intend on taking full advantage of this opportunity to prove them right.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune ran a story on the front page of the business section today.  (You can read it here.) The reporter, Molly Young, portrayed the intern search as a popularity contest where he/she with the most Facebook friends was guaranteed victory. I disagree. This was about engaging people and moving them to action. I don’t know everyone who took the time to “Like” my video. In fact, I don’t know the majority of people who voted for me. (See the list of voters below.)

I think I won because 1. I had a more active network and 2. I allowed people who’ve never met me to know me. Let me explain:

  1. There were several people in my network — you know who you are — that sent messages, posted status updates, tweeted, retweeted, made YouTube videos with voting instructions and forwarded e-mails to everyone in their contact list. I assumed I had fewer Facebook friends than my opponents (359 as of last Sunday),  so I relied on involving and engaging friends and colleagues to pass the word on to their much larger networks.
  2. I utilized my blog, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to comment on the search throughout the week. I tried to follow up each Like with a thank-you of some sort, but it wasn’t always possible. From the initial video cover letter to a video I made during halftime of Game 7 Thursday night, the point was to be myself, even to people who’ve never met me. I wanted people to feel invested in the outcome.

I raved about the process in my interview with Ms. Young. Unfortunately, the quote she plucked was in response to the exhaustion I felt on Friday with just a few hours remaining. The result:

Prior to the NFL Draft, hundreds of the best players in the country go to Indianapolis for what’s known as “the combine.” There, they are tested for strength and ability through a series of rigorous testing as coaches and general managers decide whether a player is right for their team. In a way, this past week was like a social media combine. If I didn’t have a grip on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or blogging, I never stood a chance.

The truth is I enjoyed every part of this process. That’s easy to say because I won, sure, but even if I had lost, I could have accepted it knowing someone else outwitted me, one way or another.

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If I Win the Fast Horse Inc. Intern Search

If history has taught me anything, it's this: It ain't over until it's over.

With just about eight hours to go in the Fast Horse Inc. summer intern search, I’m holding a sizable lead of 703-395-310. It’s too early for any victory celebration, but I wanted to take a second to talk about what this internship would mean to me.

When my girlfriend and I moved to Portland last summer, I was unemployed for three months. All the while, I was interviewing with the company I’m currently working for, but those three months really put things in perspective. Luckily, I’d saved enough money before moving to pay for necessities. Also, my girlfriend found work right away, so she paid for the few nights out we enjoyed living in a new city. But really — it was a rude awakening.

We decided we needed to move back to Minnesota when we went home for Christmas. The distance from friends and family was too much to bear. Our first cross-country move really informed this one, and rather than worry about finding the perfect apartment, I was more concerned about finding a job. I didn’t want to spend significant time unemployed again.

My mentor, Ellen Mrja, an associate professor of mass communications at my alma mater, brought the FHI internship to my attention. At first, it seemed daunting: Cut a three-minute video cover letter showing creativity, initiative, personality and je ne sais quoi. I’ve got a face for radio and a voice for print, so this opportunity seemed dead on arrival.

Fast Horse liked my video and this earned me an interview via Skype. That went well, too, apparently. When I found out I was a finalist, I was more excited by the opportunity to use social media and campaign. I thought it would be … fun? And it has been, albeit exhausting. I’ve had a nice lead the whole week, but never once feel safe. Even writing this, I’m still concerned.

If I earn this opportunity, it means I was able to find employment 1,700 miles away … without an unemployment gap … in an unsavory job market … with an English degree.

If. It’s not over. I can’t wait until it is. Check back tonight. If I win, I’m posting a video before any celebration. I’ve got many, many people to thank!

The Saga Continues…

Win, lose or draw, the most impressive thing about the Fast Horse Inc. summer intern search is the fact it inspired my grandmother and dad to join Facebook. Bonkers.

Today’s a big day and I expect my competitors to either give up or go for broke. Most likely, the latter. That means I need every last vote I can get. The steps to vote are simple (below) and I feel like 1,000 Likes is still in range. Check back later on tonight for another video where I’m laying down the plan for the final 20 hours of the competition.

If you haven’t voted yet, it’s simple. Just:

  1. Go to The Fast Horse Experience fan page on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/FastHorseExperience
  2. Like the page.
  3. Click on the Video tab.
  4. Find my video. (“Intern Candidate #1: Andrew Miller from Portland”)
  5. Like the video.

On ChatRoulette, the Intern Search, 2002

It’s my theory disenfranchised programmers at YouTube have it set so that the least flattering millisecond of any given moment is turned into the thumbnail. Such is the case with my video above. Thanks, guys.

Just hit 500 Likes! The lead is holding steady at 236, compared to about 150 when we started yesterday. Please let me know if you’re interested in helping with my e-mail campaign. You can e-mail me at atmiller14@gmail.com.

The voting process is even simpler now:
  1. Go to The Fast Horse Experience fan page:http://www.facebook.com/FastHorseExperience
  2. Like the page.
  3. Click on the Video tab.
  4. Find my video. (“Intern Candidate #1: Andrew Miller from Portland”)
  5. Like the video.

The Coolest Intern Hiring Process Ever

While I’m sad to report I didn’t get a chance to interview for the Star Tribune apprenticeship I’d applied for, now I’m waiting to hear back from a public relations firm in Minneapolis that just may have the coolest hiring process ever.

Fast Horse Inc., whose client list includes Coca-Cola and BlueCross BlueShield of Minnesota, asked applicants for their summer internship to submit a video cover letter and resume. The video, in less than three minutes, was to demonstrate creativity, personality, initiative and je ne sais quoi. Once three finalists are selected, their profile will be posted on The Fast Horse Experience fan page on Facebook where Fast Horse fans will vote for the winner.

What does this mean? It means if I make the cut — and I should know in the next 36 hours — it’s up to me to pull votes with a wicked effective social media campaign. Truth be told, I haven’t campaigned for anything since student council my freshman year of high school. Back then, “Facebook” was two random nouns combined to form complete nonsense. Heck, blogging was still cutting edge. That was pre-9/11! (OK, you get it.)

For you skeptics out there, yes, this internship search could equate to a popularity contest. Keep in mind, though, that Fast Horse Inc. isn’t looking for a surgeon or a lawyer, but a public relations intern. What better way to exemplify your talent with social media tools and building hype than selling the product you know best?

I’ve got several ideas brewing if I make the cut, but here’s where things get interesting: Someone’s going to do something crazy. It’s bound to happen. I’m sure the other internship candidates are well aware of what goes viral and what doesn’t. For instance, the other night, sitting at Safeco Field, I briefly considered running onto the field with my Flip, where I would record why I’m qualified for the internship before field crew Tasered or tackled me. I didn’t act on this impulse, but I’m also somewhat rational. Somewhat.

In what amounts to a viral campaign, the reward being an internship and a possible long-term employment in this bear of a job market, it’s hard to say what qualifies as going “too far.” Here’s what I do know: I’ve fallen in love with Fast Horse Inc. by way of their blog. “Work Hard, Play Hard” is their gospel. They’re idea people. They’re my kind of people. (And I mean that so sincerely, I used italics.)

It’s too early to say if I’ll get a chance to campaign my arse off, but this hiring process has been a huge pick-me-up after the Star Tribune opportunity fell flat. What I wouldn’t give to work with people who inspire me in an environment where I’d not only be encouraged to write, but I’d be paid for it. Boo-yah!

Check back tomorrow. There’s a good chance I might need your vote. In the meantime, check out The Fast Horse Experience fan page. If I’m lucky enough to become a finalist, I’ll need your help!