Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Step 8 - Tips for Finding a PR Internship

How to be a good internThe Hunt for the Unpaid Job

This is it! One of the most exciting posts to date; because Step 8 is all about getting the elusive internship. That’s right I will share some of my experience in finding an internship. And this is so exciting that it had to be written in 2 parts. The first part will outline where I looked and how I contacted people. The second part will cover the responses I received throughout, the decision process and provide some details on the internship I landed.

First, I will explain that this internship is not the “first job internship” that I dream of having when I graduate. It’s the unpaid, credit earning internship that you do while simultaneously taking 8 classes. Sound a little crazy? From what I hear it is quite hectic; with classes 3 days a week and an internship 2 days a week, which only leaves the weekend to take on another full-time job… Job searching. How many copies of a resume to personalize, how many applications to fill out, how many emails to write, calls to make, follow-ups, dead ends, interviews… And moments of frustration will I be able to cram in alongside the busy overloaded semester? Luckily, I have dealt with work overload before, I have mastered my “dealing with stress techniques” and I am ready to take this on. But let us back it up to September and the internship search process.

So months ago when I started searching for an internship I used the trusty Google to search for PR agencies. I used search terms like “communications agency”, “PR agency” and “marketing agency” and got quite a lot of hits. I made a list of PR agencies and marketing firms ranging from Toronto, Oakville, and Burlington to Hamilton. This was time consuming and in retrospect, probably not the best approach for finding an internship where I could only go in on Mondays and Fridays for 105 hours. That being said it was not a waste of time because I still have this magical list and plan on using it for my job search for after I graduate.

What I have to say about this approach is that some firms are difficult to search for and aren’t as visible online. This eliminates some great opportunities. The solution: build connections. I never thought I would have connections that led to a position and my network did not actually get me my internship. I just spoke to people in PR and learned about places I didn’t know about and added them to the contact list, this is one of the advantages of joining a professional association liked the CPRS or IABC as a student.

I also used Twitter to look of PR agencies. I followed them and checked out their websites. The key is to always look where they are located. The firm may sound great, but that’s pointless if they don’t have an office near you.
Internships Word Cloud

So I made a list. My tip is to use Google Bookmarks to keep tabs on this list. This way you can catalogue information about each firm and organize the list how you like. You will also have quick access to all the places at once to look up each firm’s website. You will also have the date you added the link and you can label things by categories including where they are located, what type of agency they are etc. This also means you won’t lose the information should anything happen to your computer because you can access the bookmark list from any computer. It’s a great tool.

Then came the part where I researched the firms. This was intensive as I dug deep in each places corporate website to learn more about their body of work, their niche, their team atmosphere, their culture and their history. Then I wrote cover letters for each place that suited me. To make things easier I used a base cover letter that I made changes to when I needed. Then I took my resume and transformed it for every firm as well. I will not lie this took entire days to do and I strongly recommend setting aside designated time to do this.

Also time consuming, keeping track of the emails I sent out and the responses I received. I will go more in detail about this in the next post, but I will tell you I quickly learned that when you check your email multiple times an hour you are being obsessive. Be patient and don’t panic if you don’t hear anything the same day or even the same week. Sometimes they just take a while to get back to you. But to keep you interested I will save the rest for the next part.
Continued in Part 2

P.S. The effort is worth it if you love PR.

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