Public relations students hear time and time again about the importance of internships. Like any industry, internships play an important role in the PR world. Not only do they provide you with hands-on experience, but they also create opportunities to develop relationships with professional contacts that can help you propel your career.
More important than doing an internship is finding the right internship, as not all programs are designed to give you the experience you need to advance your career.
When evaluating internship opportunities, there are a few things to consider:
Size Matters—The larger the agency, the more likely you will do the same daily tasks. Being with a smaller or mid-size agency will allow you to work hands-on with clients and leaders within the firm, as well as quickly receive feedback to further develop your PR skills.
While interviewing, ask what your day-to-day will look like, what type of clients you will be working with, and most importantly, if they have an internship job description. Having a job description will show that the agency really values its commitment to training the next generation of PR professionals.
Inclusive Culture is Important—When interviewing for an internship, ask about the agency’s culture. Do interns have the opportunity to work with everyone on the team or just a couple of people? How are interns mentored? Will interns have access to members of the leadership team?
The right internship program will provide interns with the opportunity to be fully integrated within the team. Interns should be included in brainstorming sessions, sit in on account meetings, and be invited to agency events such as social gatherings and networking opportunities. The right internship program will encourage interns to contribute to discussions, share ideas and showcase their passions and unique perspective. While internships are all about learning and growing as a young PR professional, they are also about finding your voice in the workplace. Find an internship at an agency that values your opinion and wants to hear what you have to say.
Values are Valuable—A company’s values shape its culture and create a purpose and sense of commitment in the workplace. It’s important that an agency’s values align with the intern’s, otherwise, it may not be a good culture fit and you won’t learn as much from the experience. For the best experience, look for an agency that doesn’t just talk the talk, but also walks the walk when it comes to valuing its employees and clients.
Get Paid—While a lot of interns get school credit for doing an internship, there are some agencies that offer paid internships in addition to school credit. If an agency is billing a client for time spent on any account by an intern, the intern should be paid. That’s just the right thing to do, plain and simple (not to mention it is one of NST’s values).
Don’t Compromise, Look for an Internship that Offers the Full Package —At NST, we believe in having an intern job description, integrating interns within our team and giving interns the opportunity to learn and grow while getting paid. Everyone starts their career somewhere and internships are the perfect first step in your career journey. We’re proud of the interns we have hired and developed over the years, with many of them being promoted to full-time roles within our firm. At NST, we’re invested in developing the PR practitioners of tomorrow and equipping them with the knowledge and experience they need to succeed.
If you’re interested in becoming NST’s next intern, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to include writing samples along with your cover letter and resume.