How Important Are PR Internships? Very.

DSC_0214The other day I got a note from Devon, the Spring intern. She was telling me how her summer and fall were shaping up work-wise and thanking me for the opportunity to work with me and learn on the job. Devon has lined up internships with two PR firms and is on her way. I’m so excited for her. Devon composed a letter for our readers and I wanted to share it with you.

My Internship Experience at Mopwater and MLMG

How much do you really learn when you copy your notes off a powerpoint presentation?  A lot of students sit at their desks, staring at state-of-the-art projectors on the wall, without even attempting to grasp the concepts that their professors are trying to share with them.  There is only so much you can learn from inside a classroom.  Real, hands-on experience is the only way to learn the ropes of the industry and get a head start on your professional career.  This became apparent to me during my first public relations internship.

In the classroom, I had written countless press releases and public relations documents for fictitious companies.  In most cases, just writing the average inverted pyramid style news release was enough.  As a student, it was easy to write a press release without worrying about the outcome.  I mean, who was going to get hurt if I got a B instead of an A on that one assignment?  The company did not exist and therefore they suffered no economic loss or failure due to my inability to sell their product or service.

My internship with Miller Littlejohn Media Group opened my eyes to the real pressures of the industry.  I immediately panicked after I got my first assignment to write a press release for Amanda’s event in January, Twitch!: Public Relations in the Age of Social Media. This was no longer a press release that would be read only by a professor; instead it had to grab the attention of every journalist who glanced at it.  I remember the first draft I wrote was plain to put it nicely.  Amanda met with me after I sent her the first draft to explain the undeniable importance of an “angle”.  “If you want a journalist to read what you have to say, then you better be giving them something that is essential to the lives of their readers,” she told me.

This was just one of the many invaluable lessons I learned while working for Miller Littlejohn Media Group.  Sure, I had been told this in the classroom, but I never saw the consequences.  The business world was no longer an image of my imagination, rather I was part of it and Amanda and her company were depending on me to complete certain tasks and to complete them well.

While working alongside Amanda, I gained knowledge of the skills necessary for the job, as well as how to find and keep a job in public relations.  Most importantly, she taught me the importance of being able to sell “me”.  While selling a product is extremely important, you must first prove that you are a valuable asset to a given company or firm if you want to survive and thrive in the PR industry.

Personally, I never learned these lessons from sitting in a classroom.  The knowledge I have gained from working for a real company is the reason for my current success. I know that my education and my career would not be where they are today if I didn’t have this internship.  I am grateful for the opportunities Amanda gave me and the lessons she passed on.  If I could give any advice to other students out there, it would be to dive in head first and learn the industry from someone who has mastered it.

Follow Devon on Twitter

Looking for a PR Internship? I am always looking for a few resourceful, mature, hard-working, social media savvy interns in various locales. Email info (at) millerlittlejohnmedia (dot) com for more information.

Want more great advice for your PR career? Order your copy of the Mopwater Manual.

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