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The New PR Rite of Passage: Post-Grad Internships

Dana Staton

Choosing to pursue a career in public relations wasn’t my original plan. I decided to attend Indiana University because of its outstanding journalism program; I was set to become a feature reporter. However, after taking a journalism ethics class, I knew that a newsroom wasn’t going to be the right fit for me. The idea of choosing a profession that can sometimes disregard personal matters and the potential effects of an article convinced me to consider other career options. It was during “Absence of Malice” that I had this epiphany, and I immediately switched my concentration to PR.

My direction toward this profession is similar to many ex-aspiring journalists. Whether they had a similar revelation or were driven away by deteriorating newspapers, this influx has brought new talent to the PR field. Recent graduates are entering an exciting, yet challenging time to work in PR. The internet has created endless possibilities to expand a brand’s reputation, and many in our age group have the first-hand expertise to run a successful social media plan. The catch is many clients are cutting their PR and marketing budgets, meaning fewer jobs and more applicants.

This increase has turned internships from first jobs to competitive, highly sought-after positions. Typically, the most a graduate can do is apply anywhere and everywhere, hoping one will ultimately lead to a full-time job.

Interning, although difficult, demanding and nerve wracking, does pay off. It familiarizes post-graduates with public relations and allows them to see whether working in PR is a right fit for them. To work in public relations, (as I so eloquently mention in my cover letter) you need to be a unique type of individual. Sure, most people believe they could do this. Writing news releases seem easy, and pitching to the media; it’s just talking, right?  Not quite. It takes someone committed to pleasing a client, dedicated to working over the agreed-upon hours and willing to kindly remind (or pester) media contacts, in order to get a result. This behind the scenes work entices me, and scares me a little, but I’m confident I have what it takes. As the newest intern to join the Walker Sands team, I am excited for what is to come.