By Jake Stevens
For many of us studying public relations, spring semester is synonymous with crunch time for securing our next summer internship. Regardless of degree progress or work experience, finding the right internship can be challenging, but it’s an increasingly important part of landing your first “real” job upon graduation.
Whether you’re a seasoned intern looking for your next gig or a first-time internship explorer eager to dip your toes in the PR industry, these tips can guide your search and help reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed that often accompanies this process.
If you want to join an agency, the internship search may be relatively easy for you. The best place to start is by researching some of the most prominent PR agencies in your area, or in the nation, if you hope to work with large-scale national or international clients.
You should consider your own values, then read about the agency’s values, culture and leadership using resources like the agency’s blog and “about us” webpages, testimonials from its clients, and coverage of its work in media and trade publications. It’s also a great idea to check out what team members are saying about the agency on LinkedIn and job search sites like Glassdoor.
Be sure you’re comfortable with the agency’s current clients and past client work, too. If an agency works on political campaigns and you’re apolitical, it might not be a good fit, right?
Taking those factors into account, select the agencies that most closely align with your values and interests, and start the application process. Ta-da! That’s all there is to it … unless agency life isn’t for you.
If you want to intern at a business or nonprofit, starting your internship search can be a bit more daunting thanks to just how broad this task can be, especially if you’re not yet gunning for a spot at your dream job. Here are a few tried-and-true methods for streamlining your search:
- Search by geographic region. If you love country music and nightlife, why not
look for summer internship opportunities in Nashville? If your best friend lives in
Manhattan, what do you have to lose from exploring open positions in New York City?
Almost every major metropolitan area in the U.S. is home to a number of corporate
headquarters, and the odds are high that no matter what city you choose, there will be
organizations looking to hire PR folks. The obvious pitfall of this method is the cost-prohibitive
nature of moving to a new city, even if it’s just for a few months.
- Search by role. Organizations will often specify exactly what type of work an
internship will entail. For example, a job listing may indicate “PR Intern – Media
Buying,” or “Communications Intern – Social Media.” These role descriptors can help
an internship-seeker zero in on opportunities that are more closely related to their
long-term career interests and aspirations. Conversely, they may help you identify roles
you’re not interested in, which can be just as important.
- Search by organization. Perhaps you’re not quite sure what you want to do, but you
have a strong desire to contribute to an organization close to your heart. That
organization’s “careers” webpage is your best bet for finding open intern roles. If
you’re not finding what you’re looking for there, you may be able to reach out to PR
leaders within that organization, or rely on your network to help you get a foot in the