When you’re in college, everyone is always saying that the real world is completely different than a university setting. When college students hear this, we believe it, but we don’t realize how true it is. While majoring in journalism and media studies with an emphasis in public relations gives you an idea of what the PR industry is, it doesn’t compare to the day-to-day knowledge and hands-on experience you get working as an intern.
There are many differences between learning the standard PR practices in a school setting and working at a full-fledged public relations agency like Nuffer, Smith, Tucker.
While studying, people often act like one mistake will end their career. Professors make you feel as if you are going to enter a world that is not rooting for you. At NST, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Every day, the team, from account coordinators to partners, are willing to coach me, advise me and offer new opportunities for real-life experience. When I make a mistake, team members are willing to discuss what I did wrong, how I can fix it, and what I can do next time to make it better. NST is filled with explorers and part of exploration is learning from your mistakes, identifying the best course of action, and pushing forward. I know I can rely on the team for support to help me further grow my skills.
Effort is expected.
I have never been someone who does the bare minimum, but I know a lot of students who are not eager to go above and beyond in their studies. While at the end of the day, they will most likely still get their degree, this is not the standard practice in an agency environment. Everyone on your team, including your client, is relying on you to get sh*t done. At NST, it’s important to do your best every time. Doing so will lead to more opportunities for you to develop your skills and ultimately work your way up the ladder. The more your supervisors can trust and rely on you to manage projects, the more opportunities they will give you and the more you can grow as a PR pro.
Everyone is not your competitor.
When classmates are seemingly competing for the same top internships in your city, it can feel like everyone is your competition. However, this is simply untrue. Over time, I’ve learned there is room for everyone to grow in the public relations industry. It’s important to serve as a cheerleader for those around you, continually supporting your colleagues and (even sometimes your competitors) to further grow the industry as a whole. NST has taught me that supporting your teammates and peers creates an environment where everyone can flourish. While friendly competition can make the PR realm more exciting, it’s important to remember that at the end of the day, we still need to stick to our values and act accordingly.
Collaboration is key.
Hearing the words “group project” from your professor can immediately instill a feeling of dread. It’s easy to get stuck doing all the work in your group or have team members go MIA in the middle of the project. Thankfully, collaborating with the NST team has been a completely different experience. I’m excited when I get called into a meeting because everyone is interested in finding an effective solution or new idea to provide clients with the best PR strategy possible. The NST team is always kind, respectful and open to hearing the opinion of every team member. At NST, collaboration becomes an activity that you learn from and helps you spark ideas for your own accounts.
I had heard stories from friends about their internship experiences and had prepared myself to have this internship be similar to theirs. I was ready to do coffee and lunch runs, but, to my pleasant surprise, being an NST intern has allowed me to grow my personal and professional skills. I’ve learned how to pitch local and national media outlets, further develop my creative writing skills, research new opportunities across client accounts, and learn from seasoned PR pros. If you’re lucky enough to land an internship at an agency with a good internship program, I would advise you to soak up every bit of knowledge and advice, as well as appreciate the learning experiences (small and big).