Category Archives: Internships
This semester I am ecstatic to be an account supervisor for Boston University PRLab, the nation’s oldest student-run public relations agency. I couldn’t be happier to have an amazing client, be part of an awesome e-board, and be working with a great team of account executives. The past few weeks have been both exciting and a little scary. My initial enthusiasm did not make me impervious to self-doubt. Uncertainty began to settle in. What if I mess up? What if the client doesn’t like me? What if my team thinks I’m incompetent? For any other students who are also feeling nervous for an internship or leadership role, I have these few pieces of advice to offer.
Trust your capabilities. They picked you for a reason.
When I first got the position of account supervisor, my first thought was “Yay!” My second thought was, “I don’t know what I’m doing.” Don’t sell yourself short. If it is the first day at an internship or job, trust that you know what you’re dong (or at least that someone else trusts that you know what you’re doing). Whether you were hired by an agency for an internship or selected by an advisor for your position, someone picked you for the job. They think that you can do it which means you probably can (with a lot of hard work and a little help).
Use your support network and ask questions.
I am extremely lucky to be working with a team of awesome agency leadership, a stellar faculty advisor with years of experience, and friendly and enthusiastic fellow account supervisors. If you have a question or doubt at your internship or job, ask someone. He or she would much prefer to answer a redundant email than have you do something wrong.
Organization is essential.
Create a to-do list that you update frequently and a calendar that you stick to. Seeing tasks written down on paper (or typed into a smartphone app) makes them seem more manageable. A calendar will help you think ahead, which means you won’t be taken by surprise when deadlines approach.
I still feel a little nervous about being an account supervisor, but I’m looking forward to what the semester has in store. Don’t let new challenges intimidate you, if you manage your time and use your resources wisely, you can tackle anything your job or internship throws at you.
As Boston University students, we are extremely lucky to have the opportunity to study abroad. From my experiences in London the past few months, I have learned how experiencing another culture is a valuable experience. As part of the London PR Internship Program, I have been fortunate to live in beautiful South Kensington and delve deeper into the PR field through classes and my internship with Sound Advice Group, which has been nothing short of fascinating.
Sound Advice Group works throughout the music business covering live events for the rich and famous, managing Irish pop-star Imelda May, and producing Cornbury Music Festival (which this year includes the likes of Kacey Musgraves and even Sporty Spice)!
With London’s many similarities to metropolitan America, I have found most PR principles to be easily applicable to British practice. Writing press releases, handling social media, working with advertisers, and networking all apply to PR in London, with a little twist. Although it is similar, there are still some key differences and selling points that make studying abroad worthwhile.
You become familiar with the work culture overseas. Since many PR agencies have overseas offices, often in London, it is vital to understand the nuances of British corporate culture to build effective communication. For example, it is not unheard of to hear office banter, gossip and jokes. Hierarchy is also not as strong in UK offices as it is in the US. Also, London is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world with nearly 30% of the population coming from outside the UK. There is no better way to genuinely understand other cultures than to live among them and see their way of life.
PR is much more business-oriented. In England, instead of PR being separated in communication schools, like BU’s structure, it is often taught in business schools as part of marketing. In fact, I learned about the foundations of Integrated Marketing Communications and PR’s purpose in the model from my PR core class professor whose background is solely in business and marketing.
International connections. PR is all about networking and building connections. You never know whom you may meet in London through your internship. Even though they may be living overseas, you can build off connections they have in the US or who knows, you may even decide to return to the UK for work one day. Do not close any doors; you never know when it could help you out!
A unique internship experience. Because BU’s internship program gives you a placement, they may offer you a company or agency that you may not have known about or considered before. Many people on the program, as well as myself, were placed at agencies that are not household names, but this does not mean that they are not unique hands-on learning opportunities. In my office I sit alongside my supervisor, the CEO, and I am always included in office discussions and decisions. Internship experience at smaller, lesser-known agencies can be beneficial to your growth as an aspiring PR professional since you are usually given more responsibilities. Also, what’s more unique than actually joining the London morning work commuters!
Last week, a professor of mine organized a panel to speak to the class about internship experience. The panel was comprised of
upperclassmen studying public relations who also held enough experience to try and advise future interns. They each had great advice for fellow students of public relations looking for their first internship.
To begin the discussion, panelists discussed smooth navigation of the interview process:
A common consensus was that the first internship is the hardest to get. In order to be successful, hopeful candidates must do their research and be persistent. Furthermore, the power of networking should never be undermined and may very well lead to getting your foot in the door. Make use of contacts that you have made as they are there to help you. It is wise to start building a network of trusted professionals now, as you’ll likely never be in a place with this many future public relations professionals and journalists again. Years in college are crucial because your classmates may very well form the foundation of your contact list. Above all, panelists stressed that capability is crucial. Connections and contacts can only help those in a position to be helped. In other words, if you can’t get the job done, why would they help you get it in the first place?
After wrapping up advice on how to successfully prepare for an interview, speakers advised on how best to succeed inside the interview:
Walking into an interview without some specific knowledge of the company is a mistake that is all too easy to make. Taking the time to research the company’s culture, clients and mission may end up being the difference between getting hired and never hearing back. However, research and preparation shouldn’t lead to entering the room with a script. Being yourself and sounding confident are important because if you sound rehearsed, the interviewer will be able to tell. After the bulk of the interview is behind you, it is good practice to ask questions since employers want to see that you are genuinely interested in the tasks they will have you perform if hired. A final important detail is to follow up with the person who interviewed you with an email, phone call or hand-written note. The more personalized, the better; but don’t overstep boundaries of appropriateness.
Final bits of advice from the panel focused on how to succeed once you’ve been selected as an intern:
Once you’ve been hired by a company, it is necessary to begin to understand the corporate environment that you have been placed into and how to interact with fellow interns and superiors. If you end up feeling the pressure on the first day, this is normal. It is important to remember that everyone starts somewhere, and not to freak out as long as you adapt over an appropriate period of time. Keeping this in mind, it is important to ask for help when you need it. Your superiors cannot read your mind, and should not find out that you needed help after you’ve already messed up an assignment. When receiving advice, take notes so that your boss won’t have to repeat what they have said. Internships are designed to introduce you to your field of interest, and you should gain valuable experience from them. Dont bother your boss, though, to the point where they are unable to work efficiently. Additionally, it is important to keep networking in mind when getting to know the other interns at the office. They can become your future network, and you make the most of this opportunity.
After receiving all of this valuable advice, the class felt more confident to start searching for internships. The process can be very competitive, and it is important to utilize the advice of those who already have a foot in the door because that’s exactly where you’ll want to be.