It’s hard to believe that summer is halfway through. If you have a summer internship, you’ve probably finally gotten in sync with a work routine. Whether you’re a sophomore or a senior, internship experience is crucial. Here are five tips to help get the most out of your summer internship.
Get to know the company.
When you interviewed, you probably had looked up some background information on the company. Once you’re hired, you should know it like the back of your hand. I’ve found our Brand Planning Document to be the bible. If I’m writing a message, no matter how short or long, I refer to the brand guide to make sure I’m using the voice of the company. Plus, it will be impressive when you blurt out a company fact, especially if you’re looking to work for them post-graduation.
Don’t get bored waiting for work to come to you – seek it out. Do a S.W.O.T. (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis on the company’s social media, and pitch your recommendations to your supervisor. Is there an event coming up for which you would like to write a press release? Prepare an outline to show your boss and ask if you can write it. Find a project that best represents your public relations skills and make the company shine. Now is the time to build up your portfolio!
Think outside of the box.
As I was attempting to write my first ad, the head of the marketing department looked at a few of my drafts and gave me some of the most strange but helpful advice I’ve received at my internship. He said, “Forget everything they taught you about journalism when you write these. In fact, if they taught it to you in journalism school, break it or do it differently. No rules.” Yes, what you learned in school is important and AP style is a huge part of the industry, but remember, you represent your company, and you need to be able to write and send a message that portrays the company’s style. Plus, it can be fun to forget the rules for a little bit.
Now is not the time to be timid. Being proactive goes a long way. Ask for projects to work on and ask questions when you have them. Internships are learning experiences so questions are absolutely accepted.
Accept constructive criticism.
Internships are the gateway to jobs in the public relations industry. Each one should grow your real-world career skills. So if the company doesn’t use your press release or if your ad looks like it was colored red by a kindergartner, accept it, learn from it and move on. You should be growing and improving your skills at your internship. Plus, I would rather be corrected as an intern than as a full-time employee.
What are you doing to get the most of your internship?
By Ali Seys
After numerous rewrites, I've come to the conclusion that I can’t do the PRSSA 2014 Leadership Rally justice with a blog post, but I will try my best. The atmosphere that weekend was contagiously inspiring and energizing. I’ve never been in a room with so many talented individuals before, all of whom I’m now able to call my friends.
Our weekend kicked off Friday night with a Welcome Reception Meet and Greet. All of us presidents were able to socialize with one another before what came to be the most educational and exciting weekends I’ve had as a PRSSA member.
Saturday morning started off with keynote speaker Ron Culp, public relations consultant and director of the graduate public relations and advertising (PRAD) program at DePaul University. Culp’s personal motto, “Focus, simplify and measure,” is one of the best pieces of advice I’ve heard as an aspiring public relations professional and leader. It’s easy to get caught up in the action and lose focus of what’s at hand. As our Chapter president, I will do everything I can to make this upcoming year the best for ISU PRSSA.
Culp also provided us with PRSSA leadership advice:
· Define goals
· Increase membership
· Assign responsibilities
· Engage members
· Increase social media
· Measure and celebrate success
Afterwards, there was an interactive workshop with Culp. This session was my favorite part of the morning. As PRSSA members, we’re provided with many opportunities to hear from industry leaders. But often times we hear their speech and that’s the end of it. This workshop provided us the opportunity to digest what we heard and discuss it with one another.
Culp assigned the tables in the room by topic: increase membership, engage members, increase social media, or measure and celebrate success. I heard so many new ideas in such a short period of time, and I cannot wait to implement some of them in our Chapter this year. As Culp said, “I lost count at 150 ideas in 30 minutes.”
After lunch, our rotating breakout sessions began. My first session was “Delegating to Managing a Team,” led by “Pritch” Pritchard, National Faculty Adviser. He talked about how delegation is the most crucial part to a leader’s success. Pritchard also walked us through four ways to delegate and empower people.
Followed by Pritchard’s session, I went to “Communications for Chapter Leadership,” led by Don Egle, National Professional Adviser. The most quoted piece of advice from the weekend arose in this session: “If you can’t do your own PR, why would I hire you to do mine?” This point should sing to any aspiring public relations professional. Communication is key to this industry, and if you can’t communicate on your own behalf, no one is going to hire you to communicate for them. You need to give people a reason to listen to you.
Saturday wrapped up with an exciting presentation by two members of the National Conference Committee. Held Oct. 10-14 in Washington D.C. this year, I highly encourage every PRSSA member to attend National Conference.
To kick off Sunday, Brian Price, immediate past president, and Heather Harder, national president, led a PRSSA Report. We then heard from Kelly Davis, PRSA board liaison to PRSSA. Davis reminded us that your time with PRSSA doesn’t stop when you graduate. One benefit of your PRSSA membership is a discounted PRSA Associate Membership rate.
Following Davis’ section, we again split up for breakout sessions. My first session was “Preparing for Leadership- ethics, diversity and traits,” led by Pritchard. As he said, “the first and priceless ingredient of success is integrity.” Again, I think this advice is important for anyone entering the public relations industry. You need to be reliable and honorable, which all goes back to doing public relations for yourself.
After Pritchard’s session, I attended “Conflict Management/Resolution,” led by Egle. He talked us through five different ways that people handle conflict. You first need to understand how you handle conflict, then how those you work with handle conflict, and know that it’s important not to take conflict personally, and disagreeing is okay.
Following the breakout sessions was my favorite session of the entire weekend: “Discussions among Chapters.” We broke into small, medium or large groups, depending on your Chapter size. Having a formal opportunity to share ideas with one another truly put the icing on the cake this weekend for me.
After our smaller group discussions, the whole group came together one more time to share best practices from the weekend. After the concluding remarks, 2014 Leadership Rally officially came to a close.
It still amazes me how in such a short period of time (three days), a group of people grew so close to one another. PRSSA has that effect- it’s contagious! I couldn’t have chosen five better letters to wear in my time here at ISU. I truly encourage every PRSSA member to become as actively involved as you can. I promise you, you won’t regret it!
By Cassidy Obis, 2014-2015 president
Just because summer has arrived and the school year has ended, it doesn’t mean that the world of public relations gets to take a three-month hiatus, too. While public relations students should take advantage of the warm weather and well-deserved break from class, it’s important to keep up with the advancing industry. Here are some ways public relations students can use their summer to prepare for their professional careers:
· Get an internship. Even if most organizations have already picked their summer interns, it’s never too early to start looking for and researching future internships. Seek out a fall internship, and reach out to professionals this summer to build your network. Networking is a vital tool in the public relations industry and can help with setting up interviews and ultimately landing positions.
· Organize your portfolio. After finishing a school year of classes, you probably have completed several individual and group projects that showcase your skills and talents. Summer is a great time to collect and organize content that can be added to a portfolio—or used to start one. Play around with online resources, such as WiX, WordPress, or Weebly, that make it easy to build your own online portfolio. Every public relations student needs one eventually, so you might as well start it now!
· Update your LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the leading professional online networking tool that assists with the job search for all professionals. If you don’t already have one, create one! Use the summer to update your personal profile by getting a professional headshot taken, updating your bio, or adding skills to your profile. The summer is a time to connect with and reach out to professionals, build relationships with people doing what you want to do, and research different companies in the industry for future employment.
· Start a blog. Write about public relations, life, your favorite TV shows—anything that interests you and lets others get to know you better. All that is important is to write and build your authenticity. A blog will help build material for portfolios and provides the opportunity for students to brush up on writing skills, the most essential tool in public relations.
· Read! It’s important to keep up with what’s occurring in the public relations industry, and the best way to do that is to read. Whether it’s books, tweets, articles, or blogs, it’s important to read and stay in the loop of this ever-changing profession. There is an infinite amount information available, all you have to do is take the time to find it and start reading.
· Clean up your social media pages. We all have embarrassing or inappropriate posts that have accumulated over the years, and it’s time to dig deep and get rid of them—before someone else does. How you present yourself on social media is how you present yourself to anyone with access to the Internet. It’s important to make a good impression and not let social media interfere with your professional career. Treat your social media pages as a tool to help your professional career, not hinder it.
· Reach out to local businesses. As public relations students, ambition comes natural. Use this inclination to your advantage by offering a few weeks of your time to help promote a business for free. Any potential employer will be impressed to hear you took the initiative to gain additional experience simply because you love the industry.
· Step outside of your comfort zone. In public relations, it’s important to connect to culture. Summer is an excellent time to get that experience. Try a new food, explore a new place, take a trip, or cross something off of a bucket list. These experiences can be a great way to have fun and prepare for the future. Being worldly and experienced are qualities that can only help in your future. (Added bonus: These experiences can be written about in the new blog you’re starting this summer.)
So take a break from Netflix, stop complaining about how bored you are, and use the next three months to complete this list! Don’t waste your summer; stay connected to the public relations world and watch yourself become a better professional.
By Lauren Vahldick
PRecisely PR is the blog of the Illinois State University Chapter of the PRSSA. We write about Chapter events, the public relations industry, member profiles, and more.