Tips for PR Students: Work Experience [PART 1]
Anecdotally, I know this blog receives a lot of traffic from PR students and the most popular posts typically have a student or employability angle; so I’ve decided to dedicate the whole of October on SWT to PR students.
Each week I’m going to pen five tips around the areas of:
- Work experience
- Personal SEO
- Digital & social media knowledge
All four posts will contain, what I hope are useful tips on getting into the fast-paced, competitive and exciting world of PR.
Why am I’m doing this now? Mainly because September is the busiest time for students with so many things competing for their attention, and in my own experience October is the month when life begins to settle down and enable students to focus and plan for the journey ahead. For those who are interested, I’ll also publish the hugely popular list of PR graduate schemes at some point in November.
Back to the tips. I plan to keep each tip to a sentence or two, but do leave a comment below if you’d like more explanation on my reasoning or would just like to discuss further. However, do bear in mind these are only my views, based on my own experiences.
By penning these posts around different, but overlapping themes I hope to spark some ideas amongst PRs of the future and maybe even equip them slightly better for the world of agency life.
After all, the modern day interview no longer begins with a handshake, but a Google search.
Work experience – hit the ground running
1. Get agency experience
This tip always causes a stir! Earlier on in my career the biggest barrier to me landing an agency role was a lack of agency experience. I may have ticked many of the boxes, but this was a big gap on my CV. The truth is some agencies are unwilling to spend the time training someone who doesn’t have agency experience. Use days-off, holidays or whatever you can spare to gain agency experience (often an internship) as soon as you can.
2. Write for publications
A lot of PR is still written communication, so seek out every opportunity you can to write. This will improve your writing skills, give you experience of writing for different audiences and if it goes well you’ll even get something published.
3. Get a mentor
I feel lucky that every place I worked at the start of my career there was someone who I considered a mentor. Some were formalised roles, most were not. When you land an agency internship get to know the Account Executives; they will be a goldmine of great advice, practical answers and can be outstanding role models.
4. Don’t work at just one place
If you’re studying for three or four years, you should consider this an opportunity to get as much, varied experience as you can. Use this time to get out of your comfort zone, learn from different people, sample different organisations and understand the differences between agency and in-house life.
5. Work hard and be ballsy
Working hard goes without saying (even if it means extra press clippings coming your way), but being ballsy is more difficult. At the start of your career it can appear intimidating to speak your mind and challenge senior colleagues, but provided it is done well and respectfully this will get you noticed. The industry thrives on new ideas which are borne out of discussion, not Groupthink.