February 1, 2024
If you’re a college senior, like me, you may be feeling anxiety about entering the “real world”. It can be intimidating to transition into the PR industry; working alongside PR professionals, compared to working with professors, is definitely an adjustment.
Fortunately, internships are the perfect liaison between college or university and a professional career. As an intern with Impact PR & Communications for over six months, I have been able to take everything I have learned from my education and apply it to real situations and clients. Whether you are looking for your next internship, or are ready to start your career, these tips will help you stand out and make an impact.
1. Embrace Challenges
Gaining a PR education before entering the field will benefit you immensely; however, that does not mean that you will not learn any new or additional skills when you begin your internship. Colleagues will give you tasks you may not have done before as an assignment for class, but that should not discourage you. Interns are supposed to learn therefore you should take every opportunity and challenge with open arms because it will help you grow to become a successful PR professional.
Here’s an example of a challenge I went through: Early in my internship, I was asked if I was comfortable with drafting an outline for a press release. As someone who has only worked on a handful of these throughout my college education, writing one for a client was frightening. I accepted the challenge to start the first draft, and it was far less intimidating than I made it out to be. I was given a past example, points to touch on, and the information I needed to create the first attempt, rather than having to give it a go on my own like my anxious thoughts told me. I am now more comfortable and confident in drafting press releases. Impact works with clients in a variety of industries, which allows me to get a taste of a variety of PR strategies and tactics. Not only do these different industries offer you experience in different sectors of PR, but they also allow you to understand your strengths, weaknesses, and likes and dislikes, which will help define your future in the industry.
Instead of waiting around for someone to send you something on their agenda, be proactive and reach out to fellow team members to see if they could use your assistance! This gives you the opportunity to learn something new that you may not have learned if you hadn’t reached out. If you have touched base with other team members and no one has anything for you to do, (which will never happen in the PR industry), do something that will benefit you in the long run. For example, read about your clients to suggest potential campaign or product ideas, get ahead on work that you will have in the future, refresh yourself on any PR tools, or research industry trends!
Despite the speed of the PR industry, avoid rushing through tasks. Always check your work before sending the email or publishing it to a website. Submitting a press release to the media with grammatical errors could cause a journalist to turn the other way. Verifying a media list with proper links and up-to-date contacts may take a while, but it is important to do. Reviewing your work can protect your credibility and ensure 100% accuracy throughout your everyday tasks.
Internships are a time for you to grow, make mistakes and learn. Asking questions is one of the most important things you can do to grow. Your colleagues are there to guide you, teach you and answer any questions you may have so that you can become not only an asset to the team, but a well-rounded professional. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification; sometimes it may even spark ideas to make the task at hand better or inspire something else down the road.
At Impact, one thing I have noticed (and appreciated) is how everyone is willing to mentor. When someone reaches out in need of assistance, at the end of the email, 99% of the time, the sign-off always includes something along the lines of, “If you have any questions, please let me know.” As an intern, this has been so helpful.
Although independent work is vital for educational growth, collaborating with other team members is also a beneficial way to learn, especially when it’s with PR professionals! Working with your colleagues on projects, especially ones that you have little experience with, is a great learning opportunity. Collaboration allows for the exchange of ideas, feedback and insights into the expectations of the PR industry.