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Internships: The Unspoken Truth of Breaking into the PR World

Published on Oct. 24 at 4:42 p.m.
by Sophie Collins.

Freshman year of college is full of new beginnings, friends and challenges. Professors and advisers consistently remind any student who walks through their doors that they must have an internship, at least once in their college career. Though an 18- or 19-year-old may have trouble thinking that far in advance, that doesn’t make their reminders any less accurate.

Now that I’m a senior, I couldn’t imagine not having an internship under my belt.

Photo by itchaznong via Adobe Stock Images

The courses offered in our undergraduate experience, such as Public Relations Writing and Public Relations Campaigns, give us the tools that are foundational for our careers. Unfortunately, the courses don’t equate to real-world experience. For example, while a campaigns class does teach you how to create a PR campaign, it doesn’t compare to working with a real client that may not be as patient as they are while working with students in a class. The best opportunity for students to acquire the experience desired for postgraduate roles must come from internships, especially with the field only becoming more competitive.

A common agency position that PR students acquire after graduation is an assistant account executive. According to Zip Recruiter, applicants are expected to have prior agency experience gained through an internship. This goes to show how crucial it is to have at least one internship during your college career, but the more experience you have, the better!

Internships provide so much more than simply meeting job requirements. During your internship, you are able to explore different aspects of public relations, learn your strengths and weaknesses, and build your network. After completing my internship at a boutique PR agency this summer, I feel much more confident about the skills I possess. I also got to experience the culture of a PR agency, which isn’t something that can be taught in a classroom.

Expanding your network is one of the most beneficial aspects of having an internship. The people you are interning for are seasoned professionals who have a wide array of connections within the public relations industry. Take advantage of those connections. The professionals you work for want you to be successful, so reach out to them while applying to jobs; you never know if they might be able to help you.

Photo by tippapatt via Adobe Stock Photos

When looking for an internship opportunity, check to see if your school has an internship portal or if your professors know of any opportunities. LinkedIn, Indeed and Zip Recruiter are also great resources to look for open positions in your area.

While the process of applying to internships is extensive and challenging, it is definitely worth it in the end. The experiences you gain while interning for a public relations agency are invaluable and go way beyond being able to meet the requirements listed in a job description.

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