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