Today in our Young PR Pro program, we’re talking to Taylor Holmes, a college senior studying journalism with an emphasis in public relations in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. With internship experience at Zion & Zion and SparkPoint Studio, along with the Cronkite Public Relations Lab, Taylor is in Barrett, the Honors College, and participating in the BA/MMC program as well as also pursuing a certificate in Sales and Marketing Essentials from ASU’s W.P. Carey School of Business. Find her on Twitter at @Taylor_Holmes33
by Taylor Holmes
You’re a successful PR student. You do well in all of your classes, you are involved on campus, and you’ve developed a sense of where you want your career to take you. Despite those successes, you want more. You want to try out your career of choice and network your way to your dream job.
So how can you get there? Internships.
Jacquelyn Smith, a reporter at Forbes, said that internships are the “new interview.” These days, with a job market that is requiring more and more experience for entry-level positions, that statement is truer than ever.
Internships are a great way for PR students to build a solid resume while they are still in college. Many people also think of internships as a way for both students and employers to “test run” a chosen career path to ensure that it is the right one.
They can also serve as a test run for working at a specific agency or business; in 2013, 51 percent of students with internships were hired on as full-time employees, according to a survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).
While an internship of any kind is a great resume booster and has a chance of becoming a job, students looking for a full time job should pursue paid internships. Why? Research has shown that students with paid internships receive more job offers more than unpaid interns.
The NACE surveyed more than 9,000 college students who had completed paid internships, unpaid internships, or no internships. 63 percent of students who had experience at a paid internship received job offers, compared to 37 percent of students with unpaid internships. Only 35 percent of students with no internship experience received job offers.
Why does compensation matter?
Some say that paid interns are treated more seriously and are integrated more into the team because the company is paying the intern. However, this will vary by company.
If you are still in college and you don’t have a PR internship, don’t worry. There’s still ample time to find the internship that is a perfect fit to transition into a full-time agency or in-house position. Remember that students often need experience from an unpaid internship to be considered for paid internships, which can carry more responsibilities. It also depends on the company you choose to work for. Some agencies do not pay interns but give them college credit, and others pay hourly or provide a stipend. Many agencies offer paid internships for recent college grads that turn into jobs after a few months.
So how do you find a paid PR internship? Below are a few easy ways to find an internship that is right for you.
Do your research.
Start by doing a Google search of agencies or companies in your geographic area of choice. Narrow down your search to a few organizations that you are interested in. Are they hiring? Don’t just look at their Careers page; reach out to the PR director and ask for an informational interview and be clear you’re interested in interning.
Check out your school’s web site.
Most universities have career services offices that help to match you to employers. Often these offices are staffed with people who will help you with your resume and cover letter, as well. At ASU’s Cronkite, many companies and PR agencies connect with the career services office because they know it’s a source of quality interns. If this is the case for you, finding an internship can be a breeze.
Does one of your friends have an internship that you are interested in? Talk to them about it. Ask when the agency will be hiring new interns for the next term. Form relationships with professors who have connections to the industry. Let influencers know what you are looking for and they may know the perfect person for you to call.
Personal relationships can provide great references that set you apart from other applicants. Go beyond personal connections too. Attend career fairs and have a face-to-face conversation with recruiters from companies you’d like to work for. Expressing interest and forming these relationships with people in your industry will make your hunt for an internship easier.
Use LinkedIn’s Job Search.
If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, make one. Thousands of companies utilize LinkedIn to post job openings and internship opportunities. The site’s search function allows you to filter your search based on industry, company or agency size, location, and position description. Some job postings allow you to apply right on LinkedIn, which saves time. However, it is important to keep in mind that not all companies and agencies use LinkedIn in this way, so further research will be necessary.
Applying for your first PR internship may seem like a daunting task, but after your first few weeks in a real work environment, you will begin to understand how invaluable an internship can be. It’s an opportunity to build both your resume and your portfolio, create a professional network with your colleagues, and even get your first job. Why not take it?