You’ve probably heard stories about “typical” college students’ summer internships: “I didn’t have much to do, but I can tell you everyone’s coffee order.” Or “Most of the time they forgot I even existed.” Thankfully, my first internship experience at a PR agency was quite the opposite.
Not only was I trusted – and relied on – to do “real work,” but I also gained a bird’s eye view into the fast-paced yet fun world of PR agency life. And I learned quite a few important lessons too, many of which will serve me well no matter what career path I choose or company I ultimately work for.
If you’ve ever had, or plan to have, an internship position – and given how competitive today’s entry-level job market is, that’s probably most college students – I hope what I’ve learned will help you maximize success and get the most out of your internship experience.
Here are three tips to keep in mind when interning for a PR agency:
Be prepared to “pull out the stops” for clients.
Not everything goes according to plan. In PR, like so many industries, there are many complexities to your work with the clients you represent. During my internship, I’ve been a “fly on the wall” during countless calls during which clients expressed seemingly unrealistic needs, especially when it comes to deadlines. But no matter how impossible the turnaround times sounded to me, our PR team got it done every time. It’s always a collaborative effort, and by working together, we made even the toughest circumstances work to meet our clients’ goals.By working together, we made even the toughest circumstances work to meet clients’ goals.Click To Tweet
Staying up to date on current news is your greatest strength.
PR isn’t only about who you know, it’s about what you know. Every morning when I arrive in the office, the TV is already on, broadcasting the latest news story. There are newspapers waiting to be read, prominently highlighting important headlines of the day. Tracking with news and trends is key. It’s important to not only know what’s happening today, but to hone your instincts and use that knowledge to help predict what’s going to happen tomorrow because of it – and help your clients plan accordingly.
Become fluent in the language of research.
I quickly realized that research is a PR pro’s best friend. Whether it’s researching a new client, or creating a spreadsheet to guide media outreach and influencer marketing, so much of PR centers on research. I’ve personally become quite adept, in using search tools like Cision and Clearbit. And even after you’ve completed your initial research, it’s likely you’ll be asked to dig deeper into what you just uncovered. I’m telling you, everything leads back to the research!
As my first PR internship comes to a close, I continue to reflect on my internship experience at Stern Strategy Group. I’ve developed numerous skills that I will now humbly carry with me as I enter into the unknown of finding a “real job” next summer after I graduate college (fingers crossed, everyone!). College can only prepare you so much for the unknown. Getting your feet wet and learning on the job – whether it’s an internship or your first permanent position – is what will truly teach you the ins and outs of the industry.
My advice to aspiring PR agency interns: Take advantage of every opportunity while you can; the experience is invaluable and will help propel you toward your future career.