Internship experience is undoubtedly an essential asset for recent graduates to have if they want to get their foot in the door of the public relations industry.

At my university it was even a compulsory requirement of my course to complete a minimum of a month’s worth of work experience.

While most internships are unpaid and can often involve less than impressive tasks such as grabbing coffee or compiling activity reports, they are not to be underestimated as they are an invaluable tool to gaining experience and contacts within the profession.

Without a doubt, I believe completing four internships whilst at university was a key factor to my landing a PR coordinator role before I finished my studies.  

I learnt a lot from the months I spent at various agencies, both big and small. They helped me to develop the practical skills necessary for an entry level role that I simply could not have gained through university study alone.

Here are my top five tips I learnt from my experience for making the most of your own internship:

Get more from your internship

1. Don’t be afraid to ask questions

The office will understand that you’re still learning, so if you need them to explain something to you or you don’t understand, tell them. It is better to risk sounding silly then it is to make a mistake on a task and do it wrong.

2. Keep busy

Often if you’re interning at a larger agency with a formal internship program that handles multiple interns at a time, it may be necessary to create work for yourself. These types of offices can be very hectic with tight deadlines and staff may not always be available to assist you. In this instance, it is best to ask an employee who is free if you can help them with a task or even suggest one to them. This way you will appear eager to work and will show the company that you have initiative.

3. Attend as many meetings as possible

Ask to be included in brainstorms sessions and any meetings, these are chances to sit back and learn from your mentors how they do things. Attending client catch up meetings for example are particularly useful as you can witness how account managers handle client expectations and nurture their relationships with them.

4. Learn from every task

You can learn things from even the most menial of tasks. In the PR industry, interns will often be given the more mundane tasks such as updating media lists or organising media clippings. Interns should not see these as necessarily meaningless responsibilities. Scanning through a media list for example will help you boost your knowledge of the media, which is a foundation PR skill: you must know the media you are pitching to.

5. Keep records of your work

With permission, any work that you do for the company can be used for your portfolio to be taken to job interviews to showcase your expertise and experience. Recruiters and hiring managers will be impressed if you already have a body of work to present and even more so if you possess actual media coverage to prove it.

- Elyse