How to make the most out of a PR internship
Internships are invaluable for gaining industry experience, networking with industry professionals and learning new skills relevant to the sector that you’re interested in. In the world of public relations, companies and early career practitioners alike benefit from participation in internship programmes.
From the perspective of an agency, internships provide teams with the opportunity to mentor and train new talent and, from the intern’s point of view, an internship offers the opportunity to apply his, or her, education to everyday consultancy life in a setting that’s appropriate for relationship building and networking. By being part of a team, interns learn how a business and consultancy operates and how important a collaborative environment is, whether in the office or working remotely.
Beginning an internship during the Covid-19 pandemic can seem daunting, which is why we’ve compiled some advice on how to make the most of your internship.
Embrace new opportunities
Working in a PR agency means that employees are responsible for a variety of tasks for multiple clients. This can range from monitoring the media to executing media relations campaigns to crisis and issues management. Working with a broad remit of clients across various sectors means that it’s likely that you will have the opportunity to assist your colleagues with a wide range of tasks. Having a ‘can-do’ attitude, regardless of the assignment, can help you position yourself as a valuable member of the team. While some tasks may seem routine, they may be important for the team being supported, and provide opportunities to connect with the team to learn from their experiences and activities.
Learn from your colleagues
The most valuable industry insights you will gain at the early stage of your career in PR are likely to come from your colleagues. By participating in projects and meetings, you can learn a lot about how your colleagues approach tasks, build relationships with key stakeholders and engage with their clients, the media and industry peers.
Working in an agency means that it’s likely that your role will contribute to a variety of clients working in different sectors. You’ll have to juggle your responsibilities for multiple projects to ensure that you can support the entire team. Figure out what method of organisation works best for you, and implement it. When you begin working on a new project, ensure that you familiarise yourself with the client, the scope of work, and the members involved in the project.
As an intern, your voice is equally as important as your colleagues and contributes to the pool of ideas that the team generates. Each member of the team has a different perspective on how to approach projects, including you. Engage enthusiastically in brainstorming sessions and meetings, where appropriate, and don’t be afraid to share your ideas and opinions with the team.
If there’s something that you’re not sure about, ask a colleague for their insight or advice. In the same way as an intern has a role to play in supporting teams, team members also have a role to play in supporting interns and are always happy to help. Whether you have a question about the project you’ve been assigned, or the industry in general, don’t be afraid to ask a member of the team.
Ask for experience in your area of interest
PR is a broad discipline that covers a variety of areas in a range of sectors. If you have a particular interest in an area of your work or a sector that the agency works in, ask your manager to share opportunities for work in that area with you.
Familiarise yourself with the media
Having an understanding of the media landscape that your agency operates in is an absolute prerequisite for a career in public relations. Make sure that you’re taking time every day to catch up with local and national news and review coverage relevant to the industries in which you’re operating. Most agencies also use media monitoring tools to ensure that their teams and stakeholders can stay up to date on industry and client developments. Getting involved in media monitoring to gain insights into the agency’s client base is an excellent way of keeping abreast of current affairs.
Internships are a great way to launch your career in the public relations industry. The value of participation ultimately derives from the work you put into becoming part of the team and learning from your colleagues, the media and stakeholders at every given opportunity. With a positive and proactive attitude, and a keen interest in the PR industry and media landscape, your experience as an intern in the agency will set a solid foundation for your career.