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 by Brian Gottesman

Brian GottesmanInternships are really popular in the communications industry, and a student who has experience as a public relations intern and a good academic record has an important advantage when seeking permanent employment.

Internships are so important that it’s one of the six required courses of any high-quality college or University’s public relations curriculum.
An internship is a win-win situation for the student and organization. The student, in most cases receives class credit and firsthand experience of work in the professional world. This gives the student an advantage on landing that all-important first job after graduation.

In many cases, organizations hire recent graduates that interned at their office. Although national and international firms routinely pay interns, this is often not the case at the local level. Many smaller companies state that they cannot afford to pay an intern or that the opportunity to gain training and experience should replace compensation. There is a lot of disagreement with this.

Unpaid internships severely limit the field of potential candidates because, the best and brightest students will always gravitate to employers who pay. A paid internship enables the students to focus their efforts and maintain high performance standards, resulting in an excellent return on any salary investment by the company.

Many large public relations firms have internship programs. At Edelman Worldwide, for example, students enroll in “Edel-U,” a training program that introduces them to all aspects of agency work.

Hill & Knowlton also has an internship training program in its New York office. Out of an applicant pool of 600 to 700 students they select 40 students. The firm views it as the cheapest and most affective recruiting tool available.

Of course, it’s not always possible to find an internship in Chicago or New York. Thankfully, many opportunities are available at local public relations firms, businesses, and nonprofit agencies.

It is important that the organization has at least one experienced public relations professional who can mentor a student and ensure he or she gets an opportunity to do a variety of tasks to maximize the learning experience.

Brian Gottesman is an experienced public relations executive and writer
with near a decade of work in public relations and publications.

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