We’re often told that college is the time to experience new things and enhance our education. This seems to work out naturally, because, in reality, the experiences outside of the classroom are really half of what college is.
Most of us automatically do this by joining Greek life, student organizations and going on study abroad trips. These experiences diversify our college experience and give us the well-rounded education every professor tells us to strive for. While these activities are significant, the value in gaining internship experience gives you what your future will find the most benefit from: professional diversity.
Professional diversity regarding internships can be interpreted in several ways. Reflecting on my own experiences, I’ve come up with three main points that come to mind when giving advice on diversifying your internships:
Agency, Nonprofit and Corporate Public Relations
Many of us start our public relations journey learning the three core areas of the profession: agency, nonprofit and corporate-based public relations. Now, there’s a reason they tell you this at the beginning of your college journey; it’s so you can find the time to experience all three before graduating. Organizing your time to gain a taste of all three is a no brainer and will set you apart from the competition during the job hunt.
Small Town vs. Big City
Growing up or going to a college in a small town, many of us have a dream in the back of our minds to move to a big city for a semester or longer. This urge to get away and engage in new cultures and ideas is another part of the college experience. Out of state professional experience adds a competitive dynamic to your background that proves your responsibility, adaptability and overall desire to understand the world around you. There’s something to say about young professionals who are able to break through the small town barrier and go the extra (hundred or so) miles to reach their dreams.
Try Something Different
Another life realization in college is accepting the twists and turns of your goals and interests. The best way to really figure out what you want is by doing something on the other end of your interest spectrum. If you’re dead set on fashion public relations, go ahead and apply for an internship with an insurance company or hospital. If your dream revolves around sports public relations, consider applying for an internship with a TV or radio station. Taking a step out of your comfort zone will open doors and teach you things that your original plan never gave you.
Many people view diversity in regard to the unique differences between us. However, when you’re looking for your next internship opportunity, consider how the concept of a diverse professional background can play a starring role in your future.
“Intern Talk” is a guest column produced by Jonathan Hill, 2014–2015 vice president of career services. You can follow him on Twitter @JonJonHill. 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 PRSSA Career Manual and Internship Center.