Gaining valuable internship experience is an important part of developing into a young professional who is ready to enter the “real world” after graduation. Too often however, PR students get caught up with the notion that the only place to gain this experience is by working for a big name PR agency or firm. My advice when it comes to internships is to start small and don’t be afraid to explore all aspects of the communications field.
Writing
If you have strong writing skills don’t be afraid to put them to good use in any setting. This simplest way to put it is WRITE! This is one of the most important skills for PR professionals to have mastered. Whether it is for your school newspaper, blogging for your PRSSA chapter or even your own personal blog..WRITE! Don’t shy away from journalistic opportunities either – you will be able to learn the ins and outs of interviewing and writing news style content which is extremely helpful when you’re communicating with the media themselves one day.

Marketing
Although this is an entirely different major in the big scary world of the business school, having these basic skills will only increase your own marketability when looking for a job! Although “street teams” sometimes get the rap of being the dirty work, but don’t discount them all so easily. Street team marketing gives you valuable experience interacting directly with the consumer and learning how to work on all aspects of promotions from start to finish. Don’t shy away from opportunities like this – and many companies are looking for students to fill these roles!

Event Planning
Whether it’s a small gathering for employees at the company you are interning at, a Twitter chat for your PRSSA chapter or a large-scale event that you play a smaller role with, being able to say you know how to plan and organize an event is an appealing skill set as well. Even if you don’t take an “event planning” internship, seek out ways to get involved with whatever your business or organization is planning – and trust me every company plans events in one way or another.

Photography/Graphic Design
This is the one skill that I think many students tend to overlook. I think all PR professionals should possess the basic skills needed to create content that can help deliver a message. You don’t even need to have an internship to get these skills – just start practicing! Take photos and create content that is visually appealing. Learn the basics of Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign – they make YouTube videos that even the most technologically challenged people can understand, I promise!

Social Media
We all know the importance of having a working knowledge of a variety of social media platforms. Even though you won’t be running your company’s accounts from day one, have the courage to suggest potential content that will knock your employer right off their feet. Also, make sure you are constantly promoting a positive social media presence on your personal accounts because we all know employers are looking!

…and of course

Public Relations
Ahhh, our two favorite words. Having all these other skills in your back pocket is important but don’t forget to search for internships that will not only treat you like the young professional you are, but will challenge you and give you responsibilities that will both grow your strengths and challenge your weaknesses.

– Jessica Hines
Vice President of Public Relations