A Young PR Pro’s Guide to Getting an Internship

Public Relations INTERN

By Andrew Willett

Most PR students beginning the winter term this month have one thing on their minds–internships.

To help guide PR students as they navigate the competitive race for coveted internship spots, DePaul’s PRSSA chapter earlier this week received tips from these four recent graduates whose initial internships launched their careers.

  • MaLeah Peterson, AAE, Weber Shandwick
  • Marissa Russmann, ecommerce specialist Filament Brands
  • Marisa Coulter, corporate communications manager, BMO Harris Bank
  • Maureen Ray, senior account executive Ketchum

As agency and in-house internship application deadlines quickly approach, I’d like to share with all of you some key takeaways from our first chapter meeting of the Winter Quarter.

Networking

Having an inside connection to flag your application greatly increases your chance for selection out of the huge stack of applications recruiters receive. PRSSA is a fantastic way to build and grow your professional network to establish inside connections. Something students often overlook is one another.  A reoccurring comment we heard from our panelists was “don’t only think about connecting up, but also think about connecting out with PRSSA peers”. Older and fellow PRSSA peers can help get your foot in the door.

Resumes and Writing Samples

Resumes are like first impressions- you only get one. When applying for an internship your resume is the one representation of you that can make or break your shot at the job. Our panelists gave us some great insight on what looks good on a resume of an internship candidate.

  • If you’re applying for your first internship, build your resume with transferable skills from past jobs that can relate to the PR industry.
  • You shouldn’t just have one resume. Tailor your resume to each job you’re applying to by pulling key words from the job description to help your resume stand out when reviewed by resume scanners.
  • Make your resume easy for recruiters to read with clear, concise and consistent formatting.
  • Show results, not just activities, in your bullet points.
  • One typo and your resume is in the trash.

During the application process, you’ll be asked to submit writing samples. Here are some helpful tips from our panelists on establishing a writing portfolio.

  • Writing samples do not have to be exclusive to past internships. In fact, most of our panelists said that their entry-level portfolio included mock press releases and ads from their coursework.
  • Offer to write for blogs like PRSSA’s Progressions to get work published.
  • Speak to your audience by including work that fits the job description and shows you’ll mesh well with company culture. 

Interviews

When interviewing be sure to show off your credibility and your personality.

  • Research your interviewer(s).
  • Brush up on the company’s mission and values.
  • Show that you can switch from your professional to your social side.
  • Remember that the interview is for you as much as it is for them. Ask your interviewer questions, go over expectations, and analyze if the company is the right fit for you.

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