Summer may seem like a distant memory, but if you’re a junior or senior in college, it’s not too early to start thinking about your summer internship for 2015.
Good for you, you’re looking into this now; so, you’re already ahead of the game (I wish I had been). We’ve all heard plenty of times from our professors how important it is to complete at least one internship before you graduate.
As hard as it is for some of us to admit, they are correct. With unemployment as high as it’s been and the steep job competition, standing out is more challenging than ever. As such, it’s crucial to do as many internships as possible so you can get experience as well as get your foot in the door.
Here are some tips on what I wish I had known before landing my dream internship in public relations.
1. It’s about who you know.
Yes, here’s another instance where what your parents and professors say is true…NETWORK. This is the single most powerful marketing tactic to developing and maintaining a group of connections from which to acquire information, advice, and referrals.
I’m sure you’re familiar with the saying, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” Make LinkedIn your best friend! Solicit as many people you have met and are familiar with as possible. It’s also a great tool to use to follow the PR agencies you’re interested in in order to learn more about them and keep yourself informed.
The more connections you have, the better. Go to networking events on and off campus to build a large network of individuals to reach out to, because this could eventually land you the perfect PR internship.
To be honest, there’s a possibility I wouldn’t have this PR internship with 451 Marketing if it wasn’t for a connection I had made.
2. Get experience & be involved.
You may be thinking: isn’t that what an internship is for?
Well yes, I get where you’re coming from but being involved with different clubs and activities gives you something to put on your resume and bring up in conversations.
When hiring interns, the candidates who are involved in activities with their school will most definitely be chosen first. I didn’t realize how essential this could be to my career until my sophomore year. I did end up joining a couple different clubs and organizations on campus along with volunteer work, but still wish I had done more.
Don’t worry, I know exactly what you’re thinking, after going to classes all day the last thing you want to do is go to a meeting for an association on campus. It’s tempting to just stay in your dorm or apartment with your friends and hang out or skip the meeting and go to karaoke night. But believe me when I tell you that this will make a huge difference in landing that PR job or internship.
So, go join a public relations club or volunteer to do PR for a non-profit and you’ll make yourself an even more marketable candidate.
So, you’ve landed the interview! Congratulations! The next step is making sure you’re prepared because this could make or break your chance at landing the internship.
3. Preparation is key.
Don’t think you can get away with just walking in there without being prepared.
I guarantee they will ask you what you know about the company or ask questions along those lines. Just remember public relations professionals are the voice of a company. Have a good idea about the firm’s background.
Stay aware of emerging trends going on with the company and within the industry at large. I downloaded the Bloomberg Business Week app and used LinkedIn as a tool. Another option it to set up Google Alerts for the company’s name and read articles up until your interview.
There’s no better way to impress them than being able to hold a conversation about current events in the PR field, or better yet their company.
4. Have relevant questions prepared.
Before any interview you should have at least five questions prepared. It can be anything from, “What do you like most about PR?” to “What’s your favorite campaign?”
Don’t be afraid to ask about the tasks and projects that will be assigned to you as an intern, or how should you prepare for your first day with the firm.
You should always close with a question such as, “What are the next steps in the interviewing process for this internship?” because it signifies that you are eager and excited about your potential future with this company.
5. Always follow up with a thank you.
I would think this goes without saying, but you never know. Although this is quick and easy, it is VERY IMPORTANT and I can’t emphasize it enough. After all of your preparation for the interview, wouldn’t you hate to lose the opportunity just because you didn’t complete this simple task?
Within 24 hours, send personalized emails or thank-you notes thanking the interviewers for their time. I suggest specifying that you enjoyed learning whatever it is that you learned, expressing your interest in the PR intern position and of course, reiterating how your skills/experience would be an asset to their team.
Just having an updated resume isn’t going to cut it. In order to get the PR internship of your dreams this summer, you need to make yourself really stand out.
Network as often as you can, get involved as much as possible, always come prepared to an interview, and just show that you are really interested in the industry, especially their company.
Demonstrating to them that you will go the extra mile will make all the difference in the world.
Now that you’ve read through my tips, it’s time for you to go after what you want. Good luck!
**Written by Consumer Public Relations intern Yvonne Mclenithan, graduate of Plymouth State University with a degree in public relations.