There is a phrase in the collegiate world that claims, “The best way to learn is to do.” I couldn’t agree more.
Completing internships is one of the best ways to develop skills in any field, especially public relations. Working with real clients and deadlines provides students with the best possible, real-world experience in addition to college courses. Because the PR practitioner’s reach is wide and the opportunities limitless, it is important students diversify their PR internship portfolio as they figure out what kind of work they would be interested in long term.
Intern in different PR settings. Work in a corporate office. An agency. A nonprofit. Work for an influencer, event planner or photographer. Everyone needs PR, and each different setting presents new challenges and offers opportunities to hone new skills. You can never get too much experience, and oftentimes variety is just as noticeable as specialization on a resumé.
Freelance. Yes, it is very scary. Marketing yourself and selling your skillset is not easy at first. However, freelancing pushes you to figure out your own communication style and does wonders for your client relation abilities. Whether it is digital marketing, photography or graphic design, try it!
Consider both paid and unpaid internships. There is an obvious incentive to pursue paid internships. You are compensated for your work and the relationship between boss and intern is mutually beneficial. However, don’t count out the unpaid internships. Often, unpaid internships offer more autonomy and creative freedom. You are trusted to run free with a fundraising idea or advertising campaign concept that, if done well, could eventually make a great portfolio piece.
Discern your passions. Maybe you love weddings. Maybe spreading awareness about sustainability initiatives is something you really care about. Maybe you love trying new restaurants and advocating for local businesses. PR careers are available in every corner of the world and internships are a great way of discovering things you are passionate about. Use the time you have in college to try everything that sounds appealing to you.
Network and branch out. Next to internships, the best way to gain professional experience is just by asking the right people questions. Don’t ever be afraid to reach out with curiosity and excitement. Chances are a successful PR practitioner would love to help you learn, connect, and figure out which corner of the PR world would be a good fit for you.
Georgia Buchanan is a journalism and mass communication major at Samford University, concentrating in public relations and print design. She has a minor in music and hopes to combine her love for public administration and music in a future career. She would love to manage or do event planning for a music venue after she graduates in 2022.