Published on December 2, 2016, at 10:35 a.m.
by Kennedy Studdard.
It’s that time of year again — internship season (cue the ominous music).
Although the internship hunt isn’t as scary as it might seem, it can be a stressful time in any student’s life.
As more college students search for the next opportunity to add experience to their résumés, the applicant pool continues to grow, and standing out among the crowd becomes even more challenging.
Some people say that public relations is all about who you know, and although networking is a key skill any PR practitioner should possess, here are seven additional points, aka “P’s,” to ensure that you effectively market yourself as a college student:
1. Please, be authentic! Don’t try to promote yourself as someone you’re not. For example, your social media should accurately reflect who you are as a person because employers are looking. Additionally, if your personal accounts aren’t public, make sure that your private accounts are cleaned up just in case an employer asks to see your accounts. Employers want to see you having a good time, but don’t overdo it!
2. Practice your interviewing skills. Some people seem like they are able to naturally WOW a panel of employers, but they probably obtained those skills after numerous rounds of practice. And as the old saying goes, “Practice makes perfect,” so utilize resources like a mock interview to help you become comfortable under pressure. Also, knowing how to be comfortable under pressure will help improve your networking skills.
3. The proof is in the proofreader! Have someone peer edit your résumé or your creative work. It is always better when you have a second set or third set of eyes to catch what you might have missed. The same goes for your writing and creative samples. Have people give their critique on what you would consider your best work for outside, objective opinions.
4. Phone a friend. Beyond networking, be sure to reach out to people in your contact pool for advice, whether that’s a classmate, a professor or a big-time public relations practitioner. People are always willing to help, so don’t be afraid to ask for personal life advice or to help you create your next portfolio masterpiece. Additionally, once people have seen your work, they’re more likely to vouch for you and your skills than someone they don’t know, which could help you land the internship.
5. Perfecting your personal branding. Find a way to make yourself stand out, whether that’s through an elevator pitch or personal business cards and a website. Elevator pitches are an excellent way to uniquely describe yourself in a couple of minutes. They should outline who you are and your accomplishments as if you are a talking, living, breathing version of your résumé (which you are LOL). If you’re taking a more creative approach to your personal brand, make sure everything has a similar theme across all outlets. For example, if your website and business cards are fun and full of color, it wouldn’t make sense to have a super professional résumé in black and white.
6. Primary research will help. When researching your dream agency or company, make sure your values align with theirs. You don’t want to work in a company that doesn’t agree with your beliefs and values. That said, don’t change who you are to fit into a company. Like the first “P” said, “Please, be authentic,” and you should be in every facet possible. A pretty cool, fun fact: Did you know that sometimes large organizations use a computer to first review your application? This feature picks out keywords to see if your experience and skills match what the organization seeks.
7. Present yourself, aka physical appearances. This “P” is more of a friendly reminder that physical appearances can matter. Now I’m not saying anything about a person being beautiful or handsome; I’m talking about making sure you take care of yourself and present yourself well. Wear a professional outfit that looks amazing, take a little extra time to groom yourself and always remember to smile (even if it’s been the longest week of your college career). I make this point because employers will notice when you take a little extra time and effort to present yourself well, and they’ll associate your appearance with how well you’ll fit into the office culture.
Remember these seven “P’s” to ensure that you stand out among the thousands of applicants who are also participating in the 2016 internship season.