The 2013 Communications Intern

While we recently posted on the current meaning of social media, we’ve also got a new perspective on the 2013 intern. In the coming year, interns – from public relations to social media and graphic design positions – should look at their internship search and their experience in a new light.

1. Change your way of thinking.

After completing two communications internships, one of which turned into my current public relations assistant position at Kimball Communications, I suggest a new way of looking at internships.

Think of an internship as a highly important class in college or as the new “grad school.” Communications majors do not often go to grad school after college – they go to work. But, first, you have to pay your dues. If you think of completing an internship as taking an educational course that will help your career, and you plan for the investment accordingly, it won’t seem like just an extra “thing” that you have to do on top of your undergraduate classes. Internships are unfortunately added expenses, but they are necessary in today’s job market.

And, don’t just think of internships as resume builders; they give you an opportunity to start building the skills to break into the communications industry. It’s up to you to take advantage of this. Ragan’s PR Daily suggests ways to do so in these 50 tips.

2. Understand what you’re searching for.

When I was pursuing internships in undergraduate school, I discovered two types of internships: 1) Those that offer a-part-of-the-team experience and 2) Those that hire interns to work from the bottom up – which isn’t necessarily negative.

If you know your top goal is to work in a highly competitive corporation or industry, then running errands or faxing media alerts is sometimes just a stepping stone in that particular job. You have to start somewhere if that you want to go into a specific field.

However, if you have no preference for an industry and are looking for a general communications internship, then search for one in which you will gain quality experience. Don’t settle for an internship where all you do is get coffee if you don’t want to be sitting at the receiving end one day.

Simply put, decide where you want to end up and search for the appropriate internships, with the right people, to lead you to that goal. Also – be prepared to change your end goal on the way. As many have said, internships are sometimes more about what you don’t want to do than what you want to do. For specifics on landing an internship, Ron Culp, PR expert and professional director of the graduate PR and advertising program at DePaul University, offers advice in his blog.

3. Prepare to be well-rounded.

While some communications internships may have a title, not all internships are specific to that title. Interns today can specialize in a certain area, but are still asked and expected to fulfill other projects. So, be prepared to schedule social media posts as an event planner or edit a video in between drafting an article.

Also, get used to the idea that PR agencies are going partially or fully virtual, and so are internships. The renowned Internship Queen Lauren Berger gives the positives of virtual internships in this article.

More importantly than the work itself – students or post-grads need to absorb their overall time in the office. These experiences introduce the language used in the field and the different types of office atmospheres (we prefer a casual environment here.) This understanding of office cultures is all a part of being a communications professional, and it will help prepare you for any type of job you go after post-internship in the 2013 PR and social media world.

Here at Kimball Communications, we’re looking for our 2013 graphic design intern and we look forward to your applications.

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