If you’ve recently graduated or are having trouble getting your foot in the door in your industry of choice, have you considered interning? Interning gives you experience in a variety of areas, and it’s easier to get in a company as an intern than as a full-time employee.
Working as an intern in PR, you can learn how to write press releases, pitch editors and maintain media relationships: all of the skills you will need in a full-time role. You may get invaluable experience in a particular industry that will also make you more marketable.
Having an internship on your resume impresses potential employers and makes you more hireable. It may open the door to a full-time position at the company you intern with if you network with the right people. When my public relations search firm, does get the occasional entry-level positions, our clients almost always ask for a candidate with at least two solid internships under their belt.
Maximize Your Internship
Having an internship is your chance to beef up your resume. Come to the role with ideas of what is it you hope to get out of the internship and seek opportunities to learn. You’re in the position of being able to expand your skillset, getting real world experience, so take advantage of it!
Observe others; you can often learn from other people, not only about how to do a job, but also how to be professional in the workplace, and how to interact with co-workers. If you’re lucky, you’ll find someone who will take you under her wing and teach you what you need to know to succeed.
Where to Find Internships
If you’re in college, check to see if you have a career center that can help you find an internship. Talk to your professors to see if they know of companies who may hire you as an intern. Often the good word from a professor who knows you is enough to get you in, even if you have zero experience.
Many colleges offer recent graduates similar services, so check your alumni network to see if there are any internship sources.
Online, there are several sites that focus on helping you find internships, like USAIntern and About’s Internship Page. If you’re looking for an internship in marketing, PR or social media, try Hoojobs.
If there’s a specific company you’d love to work for, approach them directly with a pitch on how you’d help them as an intern. Just be sure you can show you competencies because the firm will want the sense that they won’t have to spend a lot of time babysitting you.
According to Heather Huhman, Generation Y Author, Columnist and Mentor,
“In order to determine if an internship program is a good one, look at the following characteristics: mentorship, education, meaningful work, culture, recommendations, and networking opportunities. It shouldn’t matter if you intern at a “big name” company–startups and small businesses provide great experiences, too!”
Things to Know
Internships don’t always pay, so you need to be able to afford to work for free. Not everyone has the flexibility of being able to work without pay, so make sure it’s the right time in your life to do so, or try to find an internship that pays at least minimum wage.
If you’re in college, you may be able to get credit for your internship. Talk to your career center to find out what you need to do to qualify for college credit. You may need some documentation signed by the company who hires you, so arrange for all of that up front.
Your internship should revolve around the types of work you want to do. Unfortunately, some companies take advantage of interns and use them as gophers (“go-pher a cofee for me, go-pher a stapler…”). Set your expectations up front so you know what roles you will be assigned.