An internship is one of the best ways to get started in PR. I still remember being recruited from my university by a PR agency where I launched my career. Fast forward 20+ years later and I am still working with some of my colleagues from that agency. This guest post by University of Missouri student Abby Schroeder brings back memories! – Elena Verlee
I spent my entire junior year listening to my professors drill the same three words into my head.
“Get an internship.”
Ok, great! How? Between schoolwork, extra-curriculars, a job, sleep and attempting to have a normal social life, I found out that getting your foot in the door in the PR industry was no easy task.
In today’s competitive job market, internship experience is a must-have in order to one day land your dream job. The one problem is: Where do I begin?
I spent a year serving as the Vice President of my sorority and running the social media accounts for an organization in my college’s business school. At the time, I was doing those things because they kept me busy and it was a form of income.
After realizing writing was a key skill to have in the public relations industry, I decided to start freelance writing for my college paper. I mainly did it for the resume booster, something to talk about in an interview and something to keep me busy. But when I landed my first interview with a PR agency, I had to complete a timed writing test and I was so thankful to have those skills in my back pocket.
The more activities you are involved in and the more experience you have will give you more to talk about in an interview with a potential employer. PR employers want a dynamic person that can multitask and perform well in a variety of situations, so go out and do something!
Customize your resume
Over the course of a month, I applied to over 20 different PR agencies and internships. The industries varied from fashion and entertainment to healthcare and defense, so the exact same resume wasn’t going to cut it. I needed to stand out from the hundreds of other applicants.
Every time I applied for a job, I tailored my resume towards that particular position. I concentrated on certain skills I had acquired and elaborated on experiences that would be necessary for that specific job and industry. This does take time. I spent hours on end, on my couch, having my mom proofread emails and making sure everything I was sending out was my best.
I began a master resume with a running, up-to-date list of all of my past and current job experiences and skills. This made it easier to analyze a particular position and pull from the master list. The key is to sell yourself and to stand out.
Do Your Research
Research begins before you even get an interview. Research is the number one, most important step in any PR professional’s job. I researched every single company I applied for. I needed to make sure that I was applying for positions I would enjoy and gain experience from.
I took notes and studied flashcards of information on the companies I was interviewing with. I wanted to be an expert and be confident in my responses.
Nothing is worse than drawing a blank in the middle of an interview.
Showing extended knowledge of the company shows your commitment to landing this particular job.
Things you should know:
- What industries do they serve?
- Who are their main clients?
- Who is the leadership team and what have they accomplished?
- What is their reason for existence?
Put Yourself Out There
I quickly realized that I wasn’t going to get a job if I didn’t apply anywhere. Once I started applying, I didn’t stop. I sent countless emails out to agencies hoping for some sort of response or reply. Some did. Some didn’t. I figured the worst answer I was ever going to hear was “no.” So why not?
The key is to be persistent without being pushy. I sent follow-up emails when necessary, but tried to avoid being over the top and annoying. If a company wants to get ahold of you, they will. Not every job is the “right” job for you.
I can’t guarantee you that you will get an internship if you follow these tips. But, if you work hard and put yourself out there, you are on your way to landing your dream internship.
Abby Schroeder is an intern at Spector & Associates, a New York City based Public Relations firm. She is a Strategic Communication major at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. She is an avid runner and Netflix addict.
Elena is founder of a technology PR agency that works with startups to billion-dollar companies. She is passionate about helping marketers and small business owners with practical publicity strategies, which she's also using for her own bling flip flop company.
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