By Colleen Kennedy, Inspire PR Co-Director
When I started looking for a public relations internship my junior year, I was completely clueless. I had taken PR classes and worked at a newspaper, so I thought it would be easy—all I had to do was send my resume to companies.
After talking to a family friend who worked in public relations, I realized some major flaws in my application process. One year and two internships later, here are some lessons I’ve learned:
• Every company should NOT be treated equally—When I first began applying, I sent the same resume and cover letter to every company. It’s easy to panic about finding an internship and start sending your resume to anyone and everyone. But the best applications are tailored to the company, and clearly demonstrate why you would be a good fit for the specific company.
• Never underestimate the power of personal contacts—As a graduating senior this year, I knew I wanted to work for a public relations agency in Chicago. To begin, I asked all my family and friends if they knew anyone in the industry. Surprisingly, I gained quite a few contacts at PR agencies this way. Reach out to your personal network to start, and you can gain connections and mentors who have experience in your desired career.
• Connections on LinkedIn are your connections to a job—LinkedIn is a great job and internship searching tool because you can search for your universities’ alumni at a companies. By finding alum, you instantly have something in common from the start. Focus on companies you would love to work for, and ask alumni why they like working there, and how they got their current job.
• Twitter isn’t just for posting what you ate for breakfast—When I first joined Twitter, I didn’t really see the point. Over a year later, I see the benefits of posting and following. Twitter is a great resource during your internship search. Many large companies or agencies will tweet about internship openings or upcoming deadlines. Also follow young professional networks, PRSSA and PRSA Chapters in your area, as they will also share information about internships, as well as career advice. There are many PR themed Twitter accounts that tweet job openings and relevant information and articles. Tweeting professionally is also always good to practice, you never know if the companies you are interviewing with might check your Twitter account.
Follow Colleen on Twitter: @colleenrkennedy