Enthusiasm, Not Experience: What PR Agencies Look For in an Intern
If you’re searching for an internship, you’ve probably come across the reoccurring theme that companies often look for, or expect, previous experience in a professional setting. What? Isn’t that the point of an internship – to gain professional experience? Here’s the inside scoop: Although experience is always a plus and a resume booster, it’s not actually the end-all be-all factor for an internship candidate.
Enter: enthusiasm! From the beginning stages of the application process to the interview, being enthusiastic about the role you want and the industry you are in is crucial.
First, be enthusiastic about making a good first impression. Great manners, grammar and spelling, and timely responses are key during the application process – most of which will most likely be over e-mail. Taking the time to make sure your messages are free of typos and have the correct information shows the HR manager that you care about this opportunity. Your interview starts the minute your first interaction with the company does.
Step one, check – you secure an interview! According to Walker Sands’ Director of Employee and Client Experience, Judy Beecher, it is usually pretty easy to tell if a candidate will be a good fit or not. “The best candidates will be passionate about things they’re interested in – whether it be photography or a cause they volunteer for; they’ll show a basic knowledge of the agency, such as industries that clients work in and initiatives or projects the agency itself is taking on; and (you guessed it) they’ll be enthusiastic about beginning their career in public relations and communications,” Judy says.
Creating Your Own “Experience”
Although experience in an agency setting or doing work in PR is always a plus, it is definitely not necessary nor expected when interviewing for an internship. You can showcase your enthusiasm by being a self-starter and creating your own “experience” to stand out. Start your own blog about something you are passionate about or knowledgeable in – cooking, traveling, yoga, anything you have a genuine interest in. Offer to design the graphics/posters for a club or organization you are involved in. Become an ambassador for a brand you are passionate about and do creative work or social media promotion for them. Any project you start that encapsulates your vision, interests and passions and shows that you’re a self-starter is wonderful experience to speak to in an interview.
Most importantly, make yourself marketable. “Every agency looks for someone who is well-rounded,” Judy explains. “Show you care about your education and are doing well in classes. But, also make it clear that you have passions and goals, and that you have a fantastic attitude about pitching in, being a team player and becoming enmeshed in the agency’s culture.”
Feel like you have what it takes to intern with the Walker Sands team? Check out our internship openings and drop us a line!