How To Get a PR Internship/Job: Know Yourself
I had the opportunity to guest post over on Spin Sucks recently (big thanks to Gini Dietrich). My post, Curiosity: An Essential in Every PR Pros Tool Kit, focused on seeking your passion by fiercely pursuing the answers to all of our questions so that you can arm yourself with the information and experience to get to where you want to go. If I’ve learned one thing in life, it’s that we are very much drivers of our own destinies. While a lot of work is required, if there’s something you want it is likely you will attain it or something like it if you set your mind to it. While something that has been true for me, I’m beginning to think this way of thinking is more rare than I had originally suspected.
I’ve just wrapped hiring a social media intern. This experience has made clear a few things: 1) People are aimlessly applying for any internship these days, and 2) There is little research, care and preparation put into the process (Note: Not all candidates, but about 95%, which is a lot). Needless to say, I’ve been supremely disappointed by a consistent lack of applicants’ desire/ability to research and/or ask questions pertaining to what they’re applying for. Maybe I have unrealistic expectations. I’ve just never applied for a job before looking at the company website, understanding what they do, seeing if they were social – and even going as far as to ask my PR contacts what they know of the prospect – to establish if I was interested in and well-suited for the opportunity.
In a time when the PR landscape is changing considerably, there are fewer stellar opportunities for the up-and-coming young pro in a highly competitive market. I realize that this fact alone accounts for a surge of applications when an internship or job is posted, but please guys and gals – don’t let some of these challenges prevent you from doing the basics before applying and interviewing for prospective opportunities and staying true to yourselves in the process, okay?
Here are a few of my condensed (because this could be a REALLY long post) thoughts on how you can effectively apply and prepare for your interviews.
This post is really about knowing yourself, not about writing a good resume. While that is important (see below), it is by knowing what turns you on, why it turns you on and what you want to do with what turns you on (professionally, of course*smile*) that will propel you in this life. When you have this stuff figured out, presenting yourself everywhere (resume, interviews, in your relationships, etc.) becomes much simpler because you are operating with confidence – gained only when you’re sure of what you’re doing.
The pursuit of knowing yourself can be accomplished many ways. Perhpas we can go down that road some other time. In the meantime, start by seeking answers to the questions you have about everything in life (for more on this, see Curiosity: An Essential in Every PR Pros Tool Kit) . The common denominator in ‘knowing yourself’ is work. If you have done the work to figure these things out in tandem with some education (either self or academic), good things are likely to happen because you’re operating within parameters that make sense to your spirit. Doing stuff because we have to or should is fine to a point – and we need to put time in, etc. – but if it’s not enjoyable or teaching you something – or you just have no desire for it, then move on. Life is too short. Hoping this all made some sense. It is the only conclusion I’m left with after what I’ve witnessed.
It takes five minutes to uncover a lot of information that will 1) Validate your interest in an internship/job, and B) Arm you with all the information to walk in during an interview and knock your interviewers socks off. And really, I mean this – because few are actually doing it.
Do you care?
Ask yourself, do I actually want this job, or am I applying it because I have to? There is a big difference between wanting a job and needing a job, and your HR/prospective employment person knows the difference.
The Basics (Yes, I know this seems obvious, but it’s not – I promise)
- Read the job description.
- Look at the company website (Google is your friend).
- Get a feel for what prospective company does and who they are.
- See if they’re social and understand how they position their brand online.
- Ask any PR contacts (professors, mentors, PRSA people) what they know of the prospect.
- Establish if you’re really interested in and well-suited for the opportunity.
- Tailor your resume (which should be no more than one page) to the job.
- Have an awesome objective that articulates your value add to the company and shows personality.
- Write a simple cover letter that illustrates who you are and what value you’ll provide based on experience you have.
Thoughts? What would you add?