PR News editorial intern Danielle Aveta recently offered sound advice for future interns on getting the most out of PR internships, and how to make a positive mark in the process. The article featured advice from current PR interns in a variety of organizations, compiled into “7 Tips to Make the Most of Your PR Internship”.
“On a Roll” © June 24, 2012 <rs> snaps’ photos, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license
Since the Porter Novelli Intern Blog features real world advice from interns around the Porter Novelli network, I thought this was a great opportunity to expand the list. Why leave it at seven tips, when it could be 10? So, I’ve put together three more to help interns stand out and grow in that oh-so-important PR internship.
- Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference. Winston Churchill was not speaking directly to aspiring PR pros, yet his axiom applies to you. Many of you will graduate with impressive grades, work experience and student leadership positions. This is a good thing, and worth striving for, but do not let these accomplishments spoil your attitude as you enter the professional world. No longer are you the king or queen of campus; you are now playing on a much bigger field full of veterans. As millennials, we have been accused of bringing a not-so-endearing sense of entitlement into the workplace. Don’t perpetuate this stereotype: show up ready to work, add value and learn from those around you. Now, reference Danielle’s first and fourth tips – don’t be afraid to bring new ideas and show your personality. But, let a positive attitude guide your actions. Be confident, not cocky, and earn the respect you expect.
- Show up early, leave late. A well-known American actor, director and comedian (among other professions) famously said, “80 percent of life is showing up.” Well, I don’t believe that 80 percent of an internship is just showing up, but when you arrive and leave can certainly set the tone for your work. It surprises some new interns to discover that many of the best learning opportunities pop up on the periphery of the 9 – 5 workday. This might mean setting the alarm extra early so you can still snooze, meeting friends a bit later on Friday night or even missing the first pitch of the baseball game. However, those extra hours show you have the desire and the drive to be a part of the team.
- Dress the part. One thing new interns occasionally struggle with is appropriate business attire. Stepping into the buttoned-up office environment can come as a shock to those who, just a few months earlier, rolled in to their final exams sporting sweatpants and hoodies. Research shows dress is critical to establishing positive first impressions…and maintaining them. Don’t forget that an internship is essentially a two or three month interview, so this tip matters from your first day to the last casual Friday. Need help? CBS News and Forbes have some pointers to get you started.
By mid-January, most of us have returned from the holidays, hopefully feeling refreshed and ready to take on the New Year. We all have our old standby New Year’s resolutions – eat healthier, exercise more, save more money – and most of us know that it’s only a matter of time before we are back to our old ways. But I challenge you to make this year different.
As you may have seen, Porter Novelli (PN) launched its new brand in November. Along with a new look, PN has adopted a new mission, style and energy. However, despite all the transformation, the company’s foundation hasn’t changed at all. PN is still a great group of people, doing great work for great clients. Our new brand is simply an updated expression of the innovative capabilities of our agency. I challenge you to make 2011 the year of your own, personal rebranding.
Whether it’s improving our time management skills, or expanding our professional network, we all have things we can do to make ourselves better professionals. These don’t need to be profound changes. Think of the small things you can do to make yourself a better student, a better professional and a better potential employee.
My advice is to spend some time reflecting on the year, and reassess your personal and professional goals. Write down your goals for 2011 and how you intend to achieve them. Having a definitive plan can help you make realistic goals and stay on track. And remember, if you start to stray off course, you don’t have to wait until Jan. 1, 2012 to re-evaluate your goals!
Here’s to 2011 – a new year and a new, rebranded you!
- Whitney Anderson, Porter Novelli Atlanta
While I was in college, I always knew that I wanted to pursue a career in Public Relations, so choosing PR as a major was an easy decision. However, choosing a major can be a daunting and overwhelming process. It is entirely possible that you might realize late in your college career or just after you have graduated that you want to work in PR, but did not major in any sort of communications field or have much PR experience. An internship is a perfect opportunity to test out PR and see if it is really something you would like to pursue.
Do not let your major or degree deter you from applying for a PR internship. Tia Jackson, Porter Novelli Atlanta’s Human Resources Manager, provided some tips for those of you who may be interested in PR, but did not major in it:
Join a Club.
- If you won’t be receiving a degree in PR or have not completed any PR internships, look to gain experience in clubs and organizations on your campus. Some good places to start are the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) and the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC).
Sell yourself in your cover letter.
- When you apply for internships,make sure you indicate all of your transferable PR skills in the cover letter.
Network, network and then network some more.
- The more you put yourself out there and network with people already working in the PR industry, the more likely they will be to advocate for you when you are applying for internships.
Two of the current PN Atlanta interns do not have communications degrees. Various educational backgrounds bring diversity to an office, so regardless of your major or degree, never hesitate to apply!
-Mary Featherstone, Porter Novelli Atlanta
This is the first in a three-part series from Porter Novelli Atlanta HR manager, Tia Jackson. As a former intern, I sat down and spoke with Tia to get college students and recent grads the inside scoop on how to best position yourselves to capture that plum public relations internship after graduating. The thing she emphasized first? Get started now! There is no substitute for strong PR experience, and the best way to show it off is with a compelling resume and complete portfolio – two things that are impossible to assemble at the last minute.
- Based on the competitiveness of the industry, you will want at least three internships. Request letters of recommendation before you need them and keep them on-hand.
- Save records of your best projects as you do them. It is a lot easier to file away that article, writing sample or event highlight reel now than it will be later.
Additional Resume Tips
- Keep your resume to one page
- Try to describe your experience in the most descriptive, positive way. For example: instead of writing “Wrote press releases and pitch letters,” write “Wrote press releases for a Fortune 500 company and successfully secured local media for…”
- Use your cover letter to provide additional details or expound on your experience
- Bring extra copies of your resume
Stay tuned for part two next week!
-Mark Avera, Porter Novelli Atlanta
You start an internship with one goal in mind, to get a job. So, what can you do to make the most of your internship and position yourself as a prime candidate for a full-time position? As a former intern and the current lead for Porter Novelli Atlanta’s internship program, here are my top five tips:
1. Be professional. This includes dressing appropriately, avoiding personal calls at work, arriving on time (or early!) and avoiding checking your Facebook page 10 times a day. By conveying a sense of professionalism, your colleagues will know that they can count on you. You want to become the resource that the company can’t live without. If you do this, you’ll be guaranteed a positive recommendation even if a full-time position isn’t available.
2. Network with colleagues that have just started out with the company. Ask them about their experiences, how they got their job and for tips on what you can do to make a good impression. These are the people that have successfully navigated the same waters that you’re facing now, they’re insights are invaluable.
3. Create your own opportunities. At the beginning of any internship, create a list of the top three to five things that you want to learn during your time with the company. From mastering social media to crafting the perfect pitch, create your own definition for what a successful internship is. Once you start your internship, seek out these opportunities, even if it means working extra hours. You’re initiative will be noticed and appreciated.
4. Keep a positive attitude and be willing to tackle any task. If you want to become invaluable, you have to position yourself as someone who is able to complete any task with a smile. If you think a task is meaningless, or don’t understand how it fits into the bigger picture, ask your manager how the final product will be used and why it’s important.
5. Learn to think one step ahead. By thinking in terms of solutions rather than problems, you will become a valuable member of the team much more quickly. For example, if you’re having trouble getting traction on a media pitch, provide your manager with an update along with a possible solution, such as tweaking the angle or trying a new set of outlets.
Now, I can’t guarantee that doing these things will land you a full-time gig, but they should at least score you a killer recommendation!
- Dawn Brun, Porter Novelli Atlanta
Leveraging your personal network is one of the best ways to discover internship and job opportunities. Networking goes a long way toward getting your foot in the door with a hiring manager.
I secured my first job interview because of a connection with my best friend’s dad. During college I was looking for an internship that would provide a great learning experience and also help pay the bills. Honestly, the pickings were slim, until a friend of mine introduced me to a hiring manager looking for a spring intern. And thanks to one of my college professors, I was introduced to Porter Novelli Atlanta’s internship program when she took interested PR students on a class trip to the city (a former student of hers in Atlanta arranged for us to meet with the staff at PN).
While sending out your resume to people you don’t know is commonplace for job hunters, leveraging your network can yield a much higher rate of return than ‘cold calling’. Start by asking those near to you – family, friends and teachers. Also, use social networking sites, such as Twitter or LinkedIn, to establish connections with people at the company where you want to work. That’s what the “Get introduced through a connection” option is for after all.
All this, while also building and maintaining a strong personal brand, will make attaining the interview and hopefully the job easier. One of the greatest lessons I have learned came from my first manager who taught me to never burn a bridge unless absolutely necessary (which is almost never is). That goes for other students, teachers, and people at work. It is shocking how small the world of public relations is…you never know where your connections may turn up in the future. Your best bet is to stay professional, rather than forfeit a recommendation for losing your cool. Keeping a strong personal brand is an integral part of networking, and encourages others to look out for you and your future.
How many people are you away from where you want to be? You’re probably closer than you think…
—Justin Grimsley, Porter Novelli Atlanta
Hernias, Habits, and Porsches
The culture at Porter Novelli Atlanta is unlike any of the other office environments where I have interned. While the demand to meet client deadlines can be intense, there are also many opportunities for professional development, even for interns.
Once a month, Porter Novelli Atlanta and our sister ad agency BBDO meet together for ‘Coffee and Cases’, an open discussion of business case studies in an environment that emulates a Harvard Business School classroom. Participants discuss business cases to glean insight on how other organizations have dealt with issues or challenges in the past, in order to learn how to best overcome hurdles our business and clients may faces today. The first case study session I participated in centered on a hernia treatment facility in Canada. Who could have imagined that hernias would tie into best practices for a PR business? Well, they did. Through that case we were exposed to ideas and examples of how the service-profit chain works: the idea that if you take care of your employees everything else should fall in line.
Apart from Coffee and Cases, Porter Novelli Atlanta also offers an employee book club. This summer we have been reading The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp, which takes a captivating look at how our habits and actions affect our creativity in different ways. In her book, Tharp explores the means by which we generate and express our creativity.
PN also encourages involvement in networking groups such as PRSA. I attended a June PRSA|GA Technology Special Interest Group luncheon on the launch of the Porsche Panamera, and how the company turned initial negative media reporting into the most positive media coverage of any luxury car in 2009. They gave away a free reporter-style test drive, but, unfortunately, my name was not drawn. Despite not winning the test drive, it was a great learning experience and an interesting event.
Another great networking event I attended on behalf of PN, was a monthly PRSA|GA meeting where speaker Gary McCormick talked about Partnership Development. McCormick, who I was able to meet several years ago when he spoke at a PRSSA event in Tennessee, works for HGTV and serves as the 2010 PRSA Chair and CEO. We caught up last Friday morning over coffee where he offered his advice to public relations interns (see video).
—Justin Grimsley, Porter Novelli Atlanta