What? You don’t have an internship this summer? That’s ok. You can still get some experience and make some connections.
I asked some of the PRos I know and here are the best tips:
Lisa Pulliam, Public Relations Manager, Western Oregon University: “Set up a job shadow. Especially if you’re a sophomore or junior and still trying to figure out if PR is for you. Most professionals are more than willing to spend a day or half-a-day with you to give you a taste of the industry. Think you might be interested in political work? Contact a local candidate’s communication director. Non-profit might be your thing? Lots of nonprofits have a PR/Marketing director and nearly all have a Development Director (fundraising). Even if you are interested in an entertainment PR or agency career, there’s someone in your area that does that work. It’s a great way to build relationship with professionals.”
Erica Harbison, Account Executive, Waggener Edstrom (Portland): “Go to the local city hall or your favorite charity organization and see what projects are in the works – maybe an event or volunteer recruitment effort – see if you can help them with PR/marketing. Even if you’re not doing a formal internship, you can get involved with projects on a short term basis – maybe write an article for a newsletter, create flyers to hand out or help them update their Web site. The organization will be appreciative – and you’ve got a portfolio piece to show for it.”
Laura Bishow, Account Executive, Maxwell PR (Portland): “Volunteer!” (pretty basic, huh?)
Set up informational interviews: Contact PRos (maybe even start with alumni) in your field of interest and ask for 30 minutes of their time. A conversation over lunch can give you insight into how to better prepare yourself for a career in that field and again, will help you make connections. After all, PR is all about the relationships you can build.
Talk to your profs: Yes, we have connections. And yes, we can help you. I promise.