How to Succeed in Your PR Internship

College students hit the job market every season in search of real-world experience. We market our personal brand of dean’s list awards, volunteer time, and clubs. We throw ourselves into the battle of resume survival as we submit each application. Your first win of getting offered an internship feels like a victory. That is, it feels like a victory until the fear of the actual position starts to sink in. Here are some words of motivation, advice, and truth to get you through your next public relations position.

  1. Find your comfort coworkers. Internships can be intimidating, so as soon as possible, find your comfort coworkers. Comfort coworkers will be those that you know hold you to the standards written in your internship agreement. They will also be those that you feel comfortable using as a resource to learn from and with.
  2. Think big. Let some of your discomfort drive your ability to push out overachieving work. With that being said, take all the risks you can now. Pitch your ideas, ask every question, and listen to anyone who’s willing to teach you something. An open mind is a smart mind when entering a different train of thought. 
  3. Trust your gut. It’s important to trust how you’re feeling. Just because the PR company thinks you fit their position doesn’t mean your fit for their work style. It’s a major career step to be able to manage an internship with courses, but another to step away when it’s not right for you. Nothing in your professional career is going to be more detrimental than not knowing what you don’t want to do in this field. If something doesn’t feel right — whether it’s because of ethics, interests, or another reason — either decline the position offer or find a way to make the situation better. 
  4. Own up to your mistakes. Honesty and transparency are the key to maneuvering your way to the top. Confidence in your abilities can be shown through your hard work and effort, but also how you go about your mistakes. Take responsibility for forgetting about a conversation you had with a coworker; interns are there to learn, so they’re not expected to be perfect. Let’s be real, we all make mistakes, and the world of PR never sleeps. Typically, there is always a way to come back from any shortcoming for which you may find yourself responsible. Having transparency about your actions allows for smoother communication, growth, and maturity. 
  5. Know your value. Just because you’re an intern doesn’t mean you are any less of an employee to the company. You shouldn’t run around picking up coffee for your coworkers; you were hired to do actual work. Your internship experience is a two-way street where the company receives extra help, and you get to experience real world tasks. Ask for more projects if you need more to do and ask for less if it’s getting to be overwhelming. Most companies are just grateful to have you there for anything that comes up abruptly. 

Remember that you are more important than a job. PR is always changing and so are you. There will always be a job that needs your talent and dedication to the field. The job that’s meant for you will find you, so play the field while you can gain experience and get where you need to be. 

Gracie Cleveland is a fourth-year student at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. Born and raised in Wester Chester, Gracie hopes to attain her degree in communications before moving South to pursue her dreams of working in a social media related field. Additionally, she serves as a member of the PRSSA 2022-2023 National Publications Committee. You can connect with Gracie via LinkedIn.

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