Now that you’ve escaped the days of grammar tests, presentation skills and writing class, you’re eager to enter the work force and test the waters at what you’ve been cramming for the past few months or years.
I’ve had two great internships, one in corporate and one in agency. They’re the most crucial element to where I am today. I always knew I wanted to do an internship, but one of the biggest challenges I faced with internships was deciding what route to take: agency or corporate.
In school, there was always a huge distinction placed between agency and corporate PR work. Agency would often be associated with terms like “work-life balance,” “long hours,” while corporate work was synonymous with “boring” and “dull.”
There are several avenues you can take in the industry, but the only way to know which you’ll like the most is to test them out and see which option is a fit for you and your lifestyle.
Throughout your internship process, one of the biggest tips I received for future success is to write down everything you do. Keep a document of all the tasks you successfully completed- from media lists to pitches and events. The more detailed the better. When you’re applying for your next job, if you’re able to quantify your experience with examples and numbers, the interviewer will no doubt be impressed.
After completing two internships, both of which I loved, I took the agency route. With a roster of diverse clients, I felt it would make me a more well-rounded public relations practitioner. However, it’s important to remember that PR isn’t a one-way road; there are endless opportunities to wear different hats or try out a new specialty.
Getting the job
Turning your internship into a job can be an unsettling and awkward discussion but is incredibly necessary. It’s easy to get intimidated by an employer, especially when it comes to asking for a permanent position, but you’d be surprised by how much people want to help you in the industry.
More often than not, the internship doesn’t provide you with a job after graduation, it didn’t for me. But it opens the door to other opportunities through the invaluable experience and networking you’ve *hopefully* been doing.
If you don’t land the job after the internship, having a stellar recommendation letter in your back pocket will set you apart from other candidates when applying for jobs. Even if a job doesn’t immediately arise, take the plunge and take another internship role!
Finding the right fit
With so many agencies based in Toronto, it’s difficult to gauge company culture in an interview, but it’s so important. Agencies pride themselves on their culture, and it’s a crucial factor to determine whether your values align with the companies. One of the first things I looked into during the interview process was the staff turnover rate – this is a key signifier if there’s a toxic culture.
Agencies also have different working environments, some much more collaborative than others. Some agencies will have open concept offices so that collaboration is natural. Others follow a much more traditional structure that could signify independent work. Depending what kind of environment you strive in, this could help you find the right fit.
PR is constantly changing – new trends are emerging, new faces are on the rise and the media landscape is in constant flux. It makes for a job that allows you to continue to learn every day and grow with the industry.
My main tips for PR students entering the industry: take as many internships you need to in order to feel ready; never stop networking; work hard to find the right fit for you; and most importantly, never say no – you’re always learning.
You can find Courteney on LinkedIn HERE.
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