When you’re fresh out of school you’re eager to get to work, putting that hard-earned degree to work putting money in your bank account. It’s no wonder that so many people find themselves reluctant to take a low-paying or unpaid intern position. Working in the trenches for peanuts doesn’t exactly sound like a great way to start your career, but there are many benefits to an internship that people often overlook. In fact, an internship may be the most important thing that you do to kick-start your career.
1 Professional Experience
You may have a degree from a great school, and you’ve proved your merits to an academic audience, but the real world is a lot different from academia. Considering the fact that so many other candidates will also have a similar degree, most employers are also looking for a candidate with some real experience working for a firm. An internship gives you the opportunity to showcase your skills while learning how to work in a fast-paced PR environment. Not only does it give you a taste of what a career in PR will look like, having that experience on your resume may increase your chances of landing your dream job, as well as giving you a higher potential for a starting salary when you do sign on with a company or firm.
2 Develop Needed Skills
You may have all the book-smarts you need to succeed, but what about the other important skills. You know, communication, time management, office politicking? Soft skills are as essential to your resume as your degree, and will mean the difference between a great career and just scraping by. An internship is a great place to spread your wings and hold your own in a competitive industry.
3 Building a Portfolio
In PR, one of the most important things you can do is point to real-world examples of your work. You may have put together some phenomenal works of PR fiction in your college experience, but they don’t have the most important thing that people expect from PR work: results. Being able to point to an advertising campaign that you worked on, along with a report showing the increase in sales, is a much better testament to your experience than a project you got an “A” on in school. An internship also gives you some time to create your online profile; start a blog, build a website, and keep adding to your collection of finished products.
4 Building a network
Best case scenario is that you stun the firm with your brilliance, and they offer you a job before you’ve even completed the internship, with a solid starting salary and a great position. Of course, this isn’t very likely. However, you shouldn’t rule out the possibility that you’ll meet someone who knows someone, and that by building that network you could be getting the exposure that you need in order to land a job somewhere. Also remember that most professionals were at one time recent grads with no experience, and may find a soft spot for you. Never blow off a potential contact; you never know what they may have to offer you down the line.
5 It May Land You a Job
While the pipe-dream scenario described above isn’t a strong possibility, there is always a chance that your internship will end with a job offer. It may be for an entry level-position, or something that isn’t quite in the direction you wanted to pursue, but it’s still a job. There’s also the possibility of being hired by a client who is expanding their company to include their own PR department, who was pleased with your work. Or you may catch the eye of a competitor who poaches you right out of your internship. When you’re in a position to show people exactly what you can do, you might turn out to be exactly what someone is looking for.
While it’s never a guarantee of a job at the end, an internship give you’re the experience and skills needed to prove yourself in the workforce. Take the opportunity to learn what you can and get a head-start on an exciting and rewarding career.
Joan Herbert, Assistant Manager at Bank-Opening-Times.co.uk, a curious individual, avid reader and a passionate creative writer.