If you’ve ever applied for a public relations internship before, you know the drill: insanely early deadlines, late nights at Kinko’s and stress induced hair loss by the second month of your search.
Public relations students persevere because a) perseverance is laced in the DNA of any great PR professional and b) good luck finding a job if you haven’t had at least one internship.
I, too, was one of the PR students camping outside of the university printing department and pulling out my first gray hairs before I landed an internship at Shank Public Relations Counselors, Inc.
Take my word for it, finally receiving and accepting an internship offer is well worth the hard work. Nothing beats it, except maybe the free bagels and the bragging rights you garner from being given your own office.
I’m no internship expert, but with a clear, semi-stress free mind I can look back at my long search with perspective, both the things I did right and the ones I did not. Allow me to elaborate:
1. Make sure your writing samples are strong: Before I chose public relations as my area of study, I fancied myself as something of a reporter. Writing has always been something I enjoy doing, and luckily I’m decent at it. When it came time to put my portfolio together I included tons of writing samples, bordering on too many, but I knew they were strong. Writing is a major part of what an intern is responsible for, so don’t neglect to show your strengths in your portfolio. Even a short news release written for class can boost your portfolio, because if it’s good it’s good, right?
2. Don’t be afraid to be innovative: You’ll hear a lot of opinions when it comes to designing your resume, portfolio, branding yourself, etc. It’s hard to say what is correct when the experts can’t even pick one way to do things, so don’t forget that your opinion matters. You and I may not be experts yet, but I knew how I wanted to present myself to potential employers. I designed my resume to be unique, representative of me and memorable. With some agencies, it might have been too far from status quo, but it obviously worked out for me in the end. Be confident in who you are, because someone will appreciate it.
3. Don’t settle for a position beneath you: That’s right; it’s my opinion that there are some positions beneath even an intern on the public relations food chain. You know, the internships where you spend more time fetching coffee and shredding papers than anything else? It’s true that internships may not always be glamorous, but your time is still valuable. Chances are you’re good at what you do, and the right internship will respect your strengths, helping you hone them as you go. An internship is one of the best educations you’ll receive and learning how to make double sided copies is, let’s face it, elementary.
I can say with confidence I’ll leave Shank Public Relations Counselors having learned immensely and enjoyed thoroughly. I’ve already been given two large writing assignments, had the opportunity to attend an event for one of our larger clients and I definitely can’t complain about my mentors here. I’m so glad I waited for this opportunity, plus did I mention the bagels?
By Noelle Pickler, Intern