Three Tips on Landing Your Dream Internship

By Megan Yoder
megankyoder@gmail.com

When it comes to landing a dream internship, most people think what they want is not within reach. Some feel they don’t have the skills needed or don’t fully understand the industry that they want to pursue. During my sophomore year, I knew that I wanted to gain experience in how to train marine mammals. Sounds crazy, right? Well, after numerous resumes, cover letters and interviews, I finally landed my dream internship working with marine mammals at Sea Life Park Hawaii.

My experience working with marine life was not only a dream come true, but gave me a strong skill set that was able to transfer over to my pursuit of public relations. I learned many skills that helped to prepare me for this industry, including: ways to be an effective communicator within a large team, how to produce and run a marine show with large audiences, how to multitask and prioritize, and lastly, that communication must always be clear and concise.

While your dream internship may seem out of reach, here are three tips to make your dreams a reality.

Do your research
Prior to applying to positions dealing with marine life, I spent countless hours researching to learn about each prospective employer’s culture, work environment and expectations of their interns. Understanding the specifics behind the industry allows you to gain insights about the position and helps you to discover if the field is right for you.

Know what it takes to achieve success
Sounds simple, right? Unfortunately, many students don’t follow this pattern and are then discouraged when they don’t land their dream internship. In wanting to work with marine life, I discovered that experience working with animals and excellent communication skills are crucial. To achieve my goal, I constantly volunteered at the local animal shelter and took many communication courses.

Network
I will say it again, Network! Connections are essential in landing your dream internship. I spent a lot of time networking with marine mammal trainers and experienced interns in order to understand the field. Having these connections became extremely advantageous for me, as they gave me insights into the application process, interview tips and, ultimately, helped me land the position I wanted.

No matter what industry you decide to pursue, these tips can help you to achieve your goals to make your dream internship a reality.

Follow Megan Yoder on Twitter @MeganKYoder

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7 Reasons a Journalism Major Will Make You Successful in PR

By Colleen Kennedy

When I started college, I knew journalism was the major for me – I wanted to work at a newspaper. However, after taking one of the University of Iowa School of Journalism and Mass Communication’s public relations courses, I quickly changed my career path.

Since then, I’ve often debated the pros and cons of being a journalism major with students who attend universities that offer a public relations major. When they talked about their various PR courses, I was jealous. But now, four years later, I’m happy for the solid foundation my journalism major gave me as I embark on my post-grad internship at a public relations agency.

Here are 7 ways being a journalist has benefited me as a young PR professional:

Writing concisely and factually—When reporters read media pitches, they want the facts written in an interesting, yet factual way. A background in journalism teaches you how to place important and compelling information in your lead. Additionally, people’s attention spans are becoming shorter and shorter—and they don’t want to read lengthy pieces.

Learning how to edit copy and use AP Style—Employers constantly discuss how many candidates’ resumes are not given a second look due to typos or grammatical errors. The same is true for public relations writing: Why would a customer trust your company or brand when your writing has errors? Also, being familiar with AP Style will help you write press releases that reporters want to use.

•  Knowing the importance of accuracy and ethics—During my reporting classes, we learned the Society of Professional Journalist’s Code of Ethics. With public relations scandals hitting the news frequently, defining the ethics of PR is an important issue facing the industry. Thanks to a familiarity with journalism ethics and media law, you will be one step ahead of your peers.

Being observant and knowing what makes a good story—Good journalists know the elements of a compelling story. This skill will help in public relations, because your media pitches and your news releases must be compelling. Being observant and able to gather facts to make a good story will help you write on topics that will interest reporters.

Learning how the media operates and what reporters’ needs are—After taking several journalism classes, I decided to spend a summer working at a newspaper, The Daily Iowan. While working in the newsroom, I learned the process of generating story ideas, and what information reporters need before agreeing to write a story. Now, as a PR professional, I can use my understanding of the reporting process to pitch to reporters effectively. I know that reporters need sources and are looking for different, creative stories.

Gaining the habit of reading global, national and local news—In my first SJMC class, Reporting and Writing, we had weekly quizzes on the New York Times and our local newspaper, The Daily Iowan. After the quizzes, I quickly got into the habit of reading both news outlets, as well as The Wall Street Journal. If you work in public relations, knowing what news is happening – and how you can use the news to help your client or company – is essential.

Writing in different formats and styles—In public relations, you can go from pitching media to writing a white paper to creating a media kit. Your writing must be adaptable.  First semester of my senior year, I took a course about blogging. I’ve also taken classes on reporting, writing for PR, and many others. The variety has helped strengthen my writing and made it adaptable – a skill that will help me greatly when I write for different clients at a PR agency.

Follow Colleen on Twitter @colleenrkennedy