I was lucky enough to secure myself an internship with an agency within a few weeks of starting my Master’s degree. I’ve learnt lots already and I’m here to share my experience and top tips.
Here are my key lessons in finding and securing an internship, and then making a success of it.
Do your research.
Understand who the key players are, work out who operates in which sectors, figure out which sectors exist, look into internship schemes. All of this will give you an advantage on the hundreds of other students looking for internships in the communication industry.
Have a solid CV.
There is nothing more annoying than seeing “two years experience required” on job listings for an entry-level role, especially internships. However, employers are more likely to take on someone with at least a little experience.
This doesn’t have to be a previous internship or a job in PR; I certainly didn’t have that. What you must do is demonstrate the key skills required to work in an agency through previous work experience. This could be writing a blog or running a YouTube channel.
You need people in the industry to know who you are. In the short time I’ve been in Manchester I’ve attended events organised by the CIPR, PRCA, MMU and more. At each one I’ve taken the time to introduce myself and connect with others.
It was after a guest lecture during induction week that I connected with Jo Leah on LinkedIn to thank her for her words of wisdom, introduce myself and enquire about work experience. From this initial message, I was invited for a meeting and started at her agency the following week.
So get out there. Be confident about your skills, and sell yourself. It is daunting and it can be uncomfortable, but the returns can be amazing.
Listen & Learn
I try to remember that I’m working alongside industry experts, people who have helped shape the current PR landscape and have an immense knowledge from which I can learn.
Now that I’ve been working at my internship for a couple of months, my tip would be to write down what you learn, as you go along.
From skills such as drafting press releases, speaking with clients on the phone to working on journalistic tone, I now have so many new skills and experiences that I didn’t have before I started. I’ve made a list each time I’ve learnt or developed a skill and attached an example, so when it comes to applying for jobs I’ll smash the STAR technique (I hope).
Don’t be afraid to share suggestions, ideas and your opinions. After all its your personality that got you the gig in the first place. Employers want to hear fresh ideas, see new ways of working and be given exciting creative ideas.
Over the years I’ve had to develop the skill of being able to share myself, share my personality – it’s something that has taken time but I’m now able to join in with the conversation and sit at the table and it’s allowed me to develop my career so far.
Remember to find a balance between working at an internship and other commitments.
Speaking from experience I know what it’s like to balance an internship, study for a Master’s, work a part-time job, keep up with life admin and attempt to maintain a social life. It can be A LOT.
You must find a balance between commitments, whilst still giving your all and not burning out. With my internship, I’m able to work one day a week and nothing else with no expectation to dedicate any extra time. This has been vital as there is no pressure on me to deliver more than I am able to with other commitments.
Get this right at the start of the internship and you’ll be able to find the perfect balance.
The more I work at my internship and the further on I go with my Master’s course, the more I’m able to apply different PR theories to my work, and vice versa, I’m able to relate work experience to theories.
I would also say to share theories learnt and knowledge gained from your studies with people at your internship. As they say, every day is a school day, and people love to hear new developments about the industry – and love to hear the insights of millennials.
Most importantly, enjoy your time at an internship. Yes, remember to listen, learn and apply but also remember that it’s the least amount of workload you’re going to experience in regards to work throughout your career and it’s a fantastic time to get to know other people within the industry.
I couldn’t recommend them more!
I hope this list has helped if you’re looking for an internship. I’d love to hear others experiences, so please get in touch.