Internship: making copies, not coffees

Before you spend the next 10 minutes scrolling through this page, answer this question first:

Do you want to get an internship experience only for the sake of college mandatory, or do you want to get a jumpstart in your career before everyone sending out CVs by the time they graduate?

If you answer the first one, then stop right here. This post will be no use for you.

But if your answer is the second, then keep scrolling.

Here are several things to consider in getting an internship experience in the PR world:

Decide what kind of companies that you want to work with in the future (work with, not work for).

First clue, external or internal PR work. External means PR agency, while internal means a company has their own in-house PR team (the company has a dedicated PR person, not a marketing or partnership person).

Why is this important? Obviously you need to know the difference of work and project that involves between the two type.

As an in-house PR person, usually the company has clearer direction on what kind of PR activities that they want to implement. The PR manager has power and control over the planning process.

What’s great about having internship as part of the in-house team?

  • You will have an in-depth knowledge about the company’s industry, the end-to-end process. This is good if you already decide on what kind of industry that you like, for example, an FMCG brand such as Unilever, or maybe even an automotive brand, your pick.

And what about internship in a PR agency?

  • PR agency handled dozens of clients from many different industries, which you can gain knowledge about different PR strategies based on client’s industry, whether it’s consumer or corporate type of client.
  • With so many different activities for every client, you will definitely get involved in many different events, from a press conference, or an exclusive group interviews.

My suggestion is:

If possible, have internship experience on both type of companies. Choose the type of company that you want to work with for the second internship experience, you’ll have higher chance of getting the spot as employee at that company by the time you graduate.

Learn about the company’s PR activities

For an internship as part of the in-house team, you can do desktop research on what kind of news coverage that the company generate from their PR activities, see which kind of coverage that you like. It is most likely that you’ll like the kind of job that will be given to you, if you like the type of article you saw. You will only focus yourself on those kind of activities for certain period of months, so you need to make sure that you can enjoy it.

For a PR agency, you can go through their website to see who are the clients that has been working with the agency. The type of brand listed as the agency’s client represents the strength of the agency — not exactly on the size of the brands, but more on the type of strategy that agency can provide to the brands.

Consider about the length of your internship

Not every company allows part-time internship. And some even require you to stay at a minimum length.

The length of your internship period will be considered by your superior on what kind of things that they can teach you. For example, if you plan to have more than 3 months of internship, it is most likely that your supervisor is more prone to train you to write a good press release and ask you to be involved in more strategic planning activities.

If possible, have at least 4 months of internship experience in one company.

Also consider about getting a recommendation letter, this will be very helpful if you plan to have a post-grad scholarship. If you only have one or two month internship, there will be smaller chance you’ll be given a recommendation letter.

Ask about the scope of work of an intern

As mentioned in the headlines, let’s make sure that you didn’t get through this only for making coffees and run errands for your supervisor.

Every company has its own characteristic in giving responsibilities for interns. Sometime, it might also depends on the team that you will be assigned to, but overall, make sure that the company you choose gives you more responsibilities which allows you to explore many different type of PR work.

Hint: standard chores for intern for a PR agency to do media monitoring and make copies of newspaper. Take this responsibility seriously, and then you will be acknowledged of how you can handle media relations’ work. You will be amazed by how much you can learn by reading newspaper while making copies of them. This is the first step in a ladder of climbing to the professional PR world.

Bottom line:

Your internship experience should define the rest of your career as a PR person. Learn as much as you can, because once you’re an official employee, no one will teach you how to do things.

Good luck!

4 replies »

  1. Thanks! I’m about to start an internship as a Social Media intern with my city’s chamber of commerce. I will keep this in mind! 🙂

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