Intern Talk: 3 Ways to Develop Professional Skills Without an Internship

As vice president of career services, my goal is to provide PRSSA members with the tools to secure internships and make the most of their professional experiences. I am excited to re-introduce Intern Talk as a monthly column on Progressions, which will tackle various aspects of the public relations industry.

Gaining professional experience is an important part of any public relations students’ college career, but what if you didn’t land a gig for the summer? Or what if you’re spending this summer working at a part-time job? Don’t worry – there are still many options for developing your professional public relations skills sans internship.

Photo courtesy of Sandra Medeiros
Photo courtesy of Sandra Medeiros

Seek out opportunities on campus

College campuses are flush with organizations, programs and individuals in need of public relations assistance, even during the summer months. Offer to complete a public relations project for an organization that suits your interests, such as student government, your campus newspaper, specific academic programs or your university’s communication office.

Tip: When independently seeking out opportunities, identify and suggest specific areas – such as social media, content creation or media relations – that you could help the organization with.

Start blogging

Summer is the prime time of the year to get your personal online brand in order. Whether you are a freshman or a rising senior, blogging develops and refines writing skills, which is the number one skill that employers look for in public relations graduates. In addition, maintaining a blog can help you learn more about the public relations field if you choose to research and write on industry-related topics.

Tip: Choose a manageable and regular blogging interval to avoid overwhelming yourself. For example, try blogging once per week for the whole summer.

Volunteer your skills

Just as there are many organizations on campus that need public relations help, there are likely many organizations in your local community that could use an extra hand. Nonprofits, government offices and programs, and small businesses are all great places to volunteer and improve your public relations skills.

Tip: To ensure you get relevant experience, reach out to the communication or public relations director in the organization(s) of your choice and suggest specific projects that you can work on.

With these tips, you’re well on your way to a productive summer learning new public relations skills. Additionally, by discovering or creating your own opportunities within the industry, you’ll showcase your ability to overcome challenges and take initiative to future employers.

 What ways have you independently developed your public relations skills? Share in the comments below.

Intern Talk is a monthly guest column produced by Ellie Boggs, PRSSA vice president of career services. The column covers various aspects of the public relations industry, giving PRSSA members the tools to secure internships and make the most of their professional experiences. For more career resources, visit the resources available through the PRSSA Internship Center.

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