As a college senior who has had various internship experiences, and as the current President of the Public Relations Students Society of America (PRSSA) at St. John Fisher College, a lot of what I do focuses on professional development and seeking out experiences that will benefit our chapter members—as well as myself.
Of course, being in a marketing and communications program, having internships under my belt before graduating and going out into the real world is highly recommended. When it comes to having a leg up on the competition, actual hands-on experience can make all the difference.
In job interviews, you’ll always be asked to talk about any experience you’ve had in the field you’re applying for—which can be challenging if you don’t actually have any. So here are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind when you’re hunting for internships:
Do apply early. If you’re looking to find an internship for the fall semester, start your search a few months ahead of time during the summer. Looking for opportunities early will mean that there are more options to choose from; it also minimizes chances of you getting stuck with something you’re not excited about, but had to take because you waited until the last minute.
Do ask for informational interviews. If you don’t know exactly what a position might entail or want to learn more about the kind of work you’d be doing, never be afraid to reach out to someone within the industry and/or position you want to get into. Professionals are always willing to talk about their career paths and help proactive students who show interest.
Do get organized and know your stuff. You may have applied for 10 internships, hoping to land one and gain some experience any way you can, but that doesn’t mean you’re automatically “in.” Do your homework on each of the companies you’re applying to—it will come in handy in the event you get invited in for an interview! Showing up prepared and interested will demonstrate that you actually care about the opportunity and truly want to be part of the team.
Don’t be afraid to try different things. As a student, you’re still learning about the different types of work you can get into. In the marketing and communications field alone, there’s so much to choose from. You don’t have to know exactly what you want to do when choosing an internship, but having different experiences is when you’ll learn what you do (and don’t) want to do.
Previous professional practice is a must-have, especially in the communications industry. Learning as much as you can, coming in each day with a positive attitude, and putting in the effort will make for a successful and worthwhile internship experience, and pay off when it comes time to look for a job in the real world.
By Allie Rudy
As I sit here staring at my vintage Underwood typewriter, my mind drifts back to a time revisited in Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece, The Post. Forgive me for being nostalgic, but with all that’s been happening in the world, a little fantasy time travel doesn’t seem like such a bad idea.
The year is 1971. A little girl pounds her index fingers on the manual typewriter in an empty newsroom, feet dangling from the swivel chair. The silence is interrupted by the staccato sound of the keys making contact with the paper, with a carriage return flourish at the end of each line.
She grew up the daughter of an old-school, roll-up-your-sleeves broadcast journalist. A booming baritone with an Edward R. Murrow appearance and delivery, he was the quintessential newsman on the brink of a seismic shift. News, at the time, had to be objective. There was no room for opinion; that was saved for the occasional editorial. Any hint of bias was taboo. If a reporter tried to become part of the story (or worse, became the story itself), that was a cardinal sin.
It was before Watergate, but after the race riots, women’s movement, and Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. assassinations punctuated the turbulent 60s. And in Washington, trouble was brewing.
In June 1971, The Washington Post received copies of the classified Pentagon Papers from a reliable source. Post reporters frantically gathered at editor Ben Bradlee’s house where they combed through their contents, uncovering the then-shocking revelation that presidents since Harry Truman had been concealing truths about the conflict in Vietnam—and lied to the American public about it for years. The Justice Department tried to stop the Post and its rival, The New York Times, from publishing the story, citing a violation of the Espionage Act and a risk to national security. Post publisher Katharine Graham, the first female American newspaper publisher, made a brave decision—risking everything—to publish the story. Ultimately, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the right to publish—a major victory for freedom of the press.
It was a pivotal decision—one whose echoes resound today. In the current climate of “opinion journalism” and “fake news,” it’s hard to separate fact from fiction. Stories are polarized depending on which news outlet you choose. As a result, many organizations are opting to share their own stories, and they’re doing it across all platforms—websites, blogs, social media, e-newsletters, podcasts, and more. Here are some tips on how to be successful in creating owned content:
In memory of Chuck Stevens, father, grandfather, retired executive news editor, WPIX-TV Channel 11, New York City, and longtime anchor/reporter WHEC-TV and radio, Rochester, NY.
A colleague of mine is a huge Syracuse University basketball fan, so much so that she came into the office decked out in her orange gear when March Madness officially kicked off. She asked me if I was planning to watch the game that night, which I was, and followed up by asking how I thought the Orange would fare against TCU*. I was concise in my response, saying that I thought it would be tough, but “as long as ‘Cuse can handle the ball and defend against the other team, they have a solid chance of winning.”
“You don’t know anything about basketball, do you?” she asked.
A beat passed before I replied, but by then it was clear that I, in fact, know nothing about basketball.
I originally thought it was my pause that betrayed me, but really, I betrayed myself when I opened my mouth. While my response may have been concise, it was generic. It lacked insight. I couldn’t help but think how a lot of PR practitioners have surely felt the same way at some point or another in their career.
Picture this: You start working with a new client or hop onto an unfamiliar account and need to hit the ground running. The problem is that this client represents a niche or complex industry, one you have yet to learn much about. Never mind, you think, I’m a pro and can dive right in. So you draft up a pitch and start going after key trade publications. You’re firing off emails left and right, and you’re feeling productive. Cut to the offices of Respective Trade Publication Times, where Bob Woodward (not that one) is busy writing a detailed, highly technical article. Your email pops up in his inbox and, by some miracle, he reads it immediately. He then scoffs and deletes your email without any hesitation. It wasn’t poorly written, Bob thinks to himself, but this person clearly knows nothing about my industry.
Had you sat down and taken the time to familiarize yourself with this industry, this scenario could have been avoided. Instead, you dove in too quickly without doing the proper research, and now Bob Woodward thinks you’re an idiot.
PR practitioners need to be experts in every field they represent. There’s no room for any sort of pseudo-expertise, so make sure you’re taking the time to properly and thoroughly research your client and their industry. It’s easy to get caught up in the tactics, but we all need to see the forest for the trees and keep the overall strategy in mind.
That being said, I still can’t tell you about the intricacies of college basketball. But that’s on me.
By Nick Guadagnino
*The colleague in question would like to specify that SU did end up winning that game.