Entering the world of public relations can be a daunting prospect, especially when you’re a student whose experience of working in the “outside world” has been limited to the musings of lecturers.
We asked our very own student intern Madeline Wibberley, a PR and journalism student from Griffith University, to share her experiences and insights into the PR industry from a newcomer's point of view.
We've loved having Maddie as part of the Very Media team and we hope her observations help other PR interns preparing for the new world of work.
So Maddie, it's over to you ...
1. What you learn in class will apply to your career more than you think
Don’t write off all those textbooks and lectures just yet. Sure, you may sit in your classes and wonder ‘will I ever use this?', but the truth is you’ll be surprised just how helpful it all really is.
Whether it’s language and terminology, or the way you approach a task at hand, the foundation knowledge you receive from the classroom will assist you in every aspect of a career in public relations. So draw on that knowledge as much as possible.
While working with Very Media, it actually became a little scary just how often I could hear my lecturers in my head.
2. Impressions really are everything
On my first day, my internship coordinator gave me some great advice: always look the part, always act the part and you will always get the part.
These wise words couldn’t be more truthful. The image you project and the way you carry yourself are crucial in portraying a positive personal image and that of the company employing you.
To ‘get the part’ or keep ‘the part’ in a professional industry such as public relations, the key is to reflect a combination of professionalism through your presentation, representation and work ethic.
3. It's not just an internship
It may not be a permanent or paid position, but it is never just an internship.
Not only is practical experience invaluable, you never know where it could take you.
Use your internship as an opportunity to make contacts within the industry and open doors you might never have been able to open otherwise.
A great tip for making the most of your internship and putting your best foot forward is to think of it as an extension of your interview. It’s the hands-on portion of the test. It’s your chance to show what an all-star you are, while at the same time gaining valuable career experience.
4. This is the communication industry, so communicate
In a public relations position, whether it’s a professional role or an internship, it is expected that you will be able to communicate effectively and efficiently. This won’t be restricted to clients, but importantly also includes your employer and co-workers.
By effectively communicating within your workplace, you will not only prove your ability and professionalism, you will display your capability and dependability for communicating with clients.
This can be achieved simply through asking questions or providing updates on your tasks or experience.
5. Embrace criticism as a learning opportunity
Fundamentally, an internship is an opportunity to learn, absorb and put the skills you have gained into practice.
Don’t worry though; we’re all bound to make mistakes throughout the journey.
You will receive all kinds of feedback and criticism, but it is important to remember it is all part of the process.
Don’t ever let it dishearten you. Instead, let it be an opportunity for growth and a learning tool to improve your skills and capabilities.