This is a guest post by Katie Alteri for Contributor Platform.
Whether you’re a senior looking for professional experience, or simply exploring the field to see if it’s a potential career path, having a public relations internship can help you gain invaluable skills. The options of finding a public relations department are almost endless; you could end up interning at a major firm or non-profit organization, but regardless of the location, you’ll need to complete these 5 steps in order to secure the position.
1. Research before the interview
Once you’ve written a standout cover letter, perfected your resume, and heard back from the employer, it’s pivotal that you research the company. Public relations professionals look for intern candidates that come with prior knowledge of the organization, AND have their own ideas. Aside from exploring the company’s culture and values, you’ll want to look at their social media accounts and any press releases you can find. Chances are if you get the internship, you’ll be helping research, or even write, these types of posts. If you know the style and content they normally use, you’ll be able to contribute ideas, and be better prepared if you get the position.
2. Bring a portfolio
Possibly the most important step is making a portfolio to show all of your relevant work (either online or print). I originally made my portfolio for one of my professional writing courses, and it ended up being a huge asset for me when I was interviewing for spring internships. My spring public relations internship (at a large pediatric hospital) was writing intensive, and the interviewer asked to see my previous work. Luckily, I had brought my portfolio with me, which included a list of related courses I had taken, articles I wrote for my university’s newspaper, press releases I helped write at my previous public relations internship, and layout/graphic design work. If I didn’t have a portfolio, it is possible I wouldn’t have landed that internship, and would’ve missed out on more public relations experience
3. Ask questions about what you’ll be doing
Having questions about the internships details is obviously a must, but to ensure you’ll stand out from other candidates, make sure you come with specific inquiries about what you’ll be doing if you get the position. This will help you know it’s the right internship, and show the interviewer that you care about the experience and want to make the most out of it.
4. Be assertive about the projects you want
If you want to gain social media experience, or love covering events and think that’s your strength; tell your interviewer that. I enjoy writing, and told my interviewer I’d be most excited by writing short articles for their newsletters, or compiling information for the website’s press releases. This helped him give me projects that were most related to my interests, which was beneficial to us both. Public relations departments require a wide range of tasks in order to succeed, so the possibilities of projects really are endless.
5. Send a prompt, specific thank you note
Within 24 hours of your interview, email the interviewer, thanking them for their time and detailing the specific aspects of your conversation. Mentioning what you like about the company and what you hope to do as an intern will prove to the employer that you really want the job.
After researching, and putting in the extra work, it is likely you’ll land a great public relations internship!