For college students aspiring to be PR professionals, internships are vital for getting hands-on experience and connecting with professionals in the industry. Recently, I’ve had the chance to intern at Gravitate PR and I have learned more in a few weeks than I did in a college semester.
With the internship season starting again, I want to share some advice and lessons from my internship, for my fellow eager newcomers to PR.
Whether it’s creating media lists, pitches, or blog posts; doing proper research is imperative to your work. This means scanning through news coverage, social media, blogs, etc to get a proper understanding of your clients and their industries. There’s nothing more embarrassing than attending meetings unprepared or using incorrect information in your writing. So do the reading, learn about your client’s products, their competitors, which reporters cover their industry and you’ll be better equipped to take on an active role in your internship.
It’s a good idea to take the initiative in your internship and even more important when working with clients. For example, as you’re reading through news articles, identify industry trends and opportunities for pitching stories to your clients. This turns the act of researching from a reactive process to proactive brainstorming. There are plenty of ways to be more proactive in your internship by asking more questions, giving suggestions and checking in with your boss regularly.
One benefit of an internship is working in a professional environment alongside PR professionals. It’s intimidating at first, but taking an active role in working with a professional team gives you valuable experience you rarely get in college. Furthermore, interacting with a great team makes work much more enjoyable and gives you the chance to network with more professionals.
The most common mistake for interns is failing to double-check their work before submitting it. A simple typo can cause the demise of a pitch in the eyes of journalists and lead to an embarrassing memory that’ll haunt you throughout the internship. The solution? Review your work carefully.
A PR internship is usually fast-paced and you will be busy working, learning and having fun. But as a young professional, you should always leave some time to reflect on your experiences and future goals. You might find that you need more experience in certain tasks or that you prefer to work in certain industries. Recapping with your boss to communicate what you’ve learned can benefit your resume and LinkedIn profile when you apply for other internships or jobs.