Experience, it is the word on every public relations student’s mind. It’s internships, leadership roles, writing samples, interview techniques, and elevator pitches. You know experience is important and so you spend every spare moment researching internship positions and forgo sleep to edit your cover letter. It pays off, and you finally land your fist internship position. Now you may be asking yourself, “What do I do now?” You’re not the only one.
I’m an account executive with PRLab, Boston University’s student-run agency, and this has been my first public relations experience. I was anxious and a little terrified that I would mess up at first, but now my apprehension has receded. Here is some advice I have for public relations students who may be unsure of themselves in their first PR position.
- Trust your gut. You may not have a lot of experience but you know a good idea when you see one. If you have a viable suggestion for your client or team, don’t be afraid to share it. Even if they don’t use your idea, your contribution shows that you are a valuable member of the team.
- Clear communication is key. Don’t be responsible for a miscommunication amongst team members or with your client because you skimmed an email while in line at a coffee shop and replied without reading it thoroughly. Take the time to make sure you understand exactly what your client is looking for and ask for clarification if you are confused. After a meeting or phone call with your client, it’s a good idea to send them a follow up email outlining everything that was discussed. It’s an easy way to make sure everyone is on the same page.
- Proofread like it is your job (because it is). You will do a lot of writing for your client. Whether it’s a tweet, a blog post, a press release, or an email, reread it. Double and triple check that everything is correct. As a communication professional, you will be held to highest expectations when it comes to grammar and spelling.
Keep in mind that an internship (especially a first internship) is a learning experience. No one expects you to have all the answers. So pay attention and work hard and you’ll get the hang of it in no time.