Launching your PR career—5 reasons why you should intern at a PR agency

by | May 14, 2020 | Analysis, Public Relations

Accepting an internship for the first time is intimidating–especially at a PR agency, where the clients and workload may be unpredictable.

Some might question why they should join a PR agency to gain real-world experience, rather than look for an in-house position at a company they’re interested in. While both experiences offer great benefits, especially being able to work with a company you admire, interning at a public relations agency gives you the opportunity to build a unique set of skill sets you otherwise would not be able to gain from an in-house internship.

This article has no intent in discounting the advantages of an in-house internship, but merely highlighting the reasons why young professionals should choose to intern at a PR agency.

Internships are a great gateway for students and young professionals to get their feet wet before they enter the real world. It’s also a great way to show future employers your experience and capabilities. Here are 5 reasons why you should intern at a PR agency and how it can help set you up for success:

1. Strengthen your multitasking skills

What are the qualities employers look for in an employee? The answer might vary, depending on the company and work environment, but multitasking and time management skills, no doubt, will be on many lists.

PR agencies have a fast-paced work environment. Oftentimes, interns might find themselves juggling multiple tasks for different client accounts at once. Some of those tasks are time-sensitive while others are time-consuming. It can be a struggle, at first, to balance between responsibilities and staying on top of things—but as time passes, you’re going to get more comfortable with multitasking and learn to be more effective at managing your work time.

Having that experience under your belt speaks volumes on your resume. Employers don’t just see PR agency experience. They see growth. They see challenges and you overcoming them. They see you advancing your time management and multitasking skills–checking off their mental checklist.

No matter what company or industry you end up pursuing in the future. They all have a few things in common, and that is the need for multitasking and time management skills. And a PR agency experience at the beginning of your career is going to prepare you and set you up for success in any hurdles you might face in your future career.

2. Bonus “crash course”

The best thing about interning at a PR agency is the diversity and the unpredictability. From IT to education, to hospitality and the government, PR agencies often work with a wide range of clients, helping you to learn to prepare for any task you might be assigned. But having an internship at a PR agency doesn’t just expose you to the PR and communications industry—it opens doors to a variety of worlds you may not have had an experience with.

While this may feel daunting, it is important to know that nobody in the PR industry is an expert on their client companies’ fields right off the bat. It takes time and effort to properly understand and research a field you have no prior knowledge or background in. You learn to ultimately take a “crash course” on another industry at any given moment. Being adaptable and a quick learner will only make you more desirable to future employers. But who knows? This might be of use for your career in the future or maybe just a conversation starter at your next networking event.

3. Get the inside scoop on public relations

One of the best things about internships is that you get to be surrounded by professionals you can look up to and who will mentor you throughout your experience. Interning at a PR agency allows you to work with many PR professionals with diverse backgrounds and these are the people you can learn from in the long-run.

Even as an intern, you get to see a lot of things that are constantly going on with the clients and the companies as a whole. Though you might not be directly involved with many of the tasks they’re working on, you can still get an overview about the different PR processes by seeing the many circulating emails every day—from the brewing of a company announcement to formulating a pitch, and from securing an interview to seeing the finished article being published. You earn a behind-the-scenes look at public, media and client relations—something not as easily learned in a college classroom or an in-house internship.

4. It will better equip you to work with different colleagues

Most people assume you are going to be working with a diverse set of colleagues in an agency setting. This is true—not only will you be put on different account teams where you report to one or more people, but you will learn to collaborate with a wide range of different personalities and various working styles.

Despite this different chain of command style, you are very likely to get experience working with someone who is very nurturing and is willing to guide you every step of the way. This is better than the alternative, where some interns experience minimal instructions and are expected to fulfill responsibilities.

It is important to remember that with life comes the reality that you’re going to be working with people you click with and people you don’t. Unlike school, in the workplace, if you don’t like someone or are not used to someone’s working style, you can’t just wait until the semester is over and say goodbye to your group members. In the workplace, you’re going to have to adapt and get used to working with people of different working styles. And working in a PR agency is going to help you prepare for that.

5. Grasp client relations skills

Not only will you face different kinds of colleagues in the workplace, but you will also meet different types of clients. While as an intern you might not have direct contact, you do get to see the email exchanges between your team and client representatives.

Because these clients work at other companies that might have different workplace cultures, and are likely from an industry that is not as versed in the PR and communications field, a barrier can be made between PR professionals and their clients. For instance, the point of contact from the client company doesn’t appreciate the weekly updates you provide and value, maybe they are not communicative about their company processes as you’d hope, or maybe they are doubting your team’s work or advice.

Having that experience of communicating with different kinds of clients allows you to learn to adapt your communication style accordingly and strengthen your emotional intelligence. Depending on the size and culture of the PR agency you are interning with, you might, or might not have the chance to directly be in contact with clients. Even if that’s the case, you still are able to look in and learn from how your team handles tough situations with clients.

Internships are a great way for college students and graduates to get organizational experience and gain real-world skills before they start their career journey. Interning at a PR agency allows you to hone sought after skills, such as multitasking, time management skills, and adaptability. While these skills can be easily gained from an in-house internship, an internship at a PR agency allows you to familiarize yourself with public, media and client relations as well as train yourself to become a quick learner.

Interning at a PR agency can be a daunting experience, but once you take the first step, you’ll enter a world of wonder and it can be the most rewarding start to your career.

Marina Li
Marina Li is a Public Relations Assistant Account Coordinator at Sage Communications


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