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An internship with a high-profile agency is practically every PR student’s dream.
The chance to learn new skills and connect with important contacts makes reaching for that prime agency spot a major goal for a number of public relations hopeful, but sometimes, for whatever reason, that agency internship simply doesn’t come through.
No need to panic. There are alternatives, some of which many students don’t often think about:
University marketing: A university, just like any other business, needs to market itself. Campus recreation, the office of the chancellor, the athletics department, and campus publications all need interns to help with communications. Interns will learn all things social media, copywriting and marketing, and build their resumes along the way.
The university news service: PR pros need to know how to engage in media relations, and universities depend on a positive image and a good relationship with the press. Working with the university news service will give students real-life practice in interviewing, news gathering, feature writing, and, of course, pitching.
Campus media outlets: Most universities have at least one newspaper, literary magazine, radio station, and TV channel. Broadcasting skills are especially coveted in PR. The ability to shoot and edit video is increasingly important, since consumers are increasingly interested in visual content. Some universities even pay students who work in media, which is a plus.
The visitors bureau: This is not to be confused for a local rest stop where people passing through can pick up a map. In actuality, visitors bureaus promote municipalities and regions to investors and tourists using PR skills. Bureaus run websites and create brochures, which require compelling copy. They promote surrounding cities’ attractions and deal with the media, just like many PR agencies do.
Nonprofit organizations: Most local nonprofit organizations have shoestring budgets and have no one to lead communication efforts. Running PR for a nonprofit organization is a great opportunity to exercise leadership. A myriad of different real-world skills, such as campaign and event planning are used in PR for nonprofit organizations.
Other ways to gain PR experience include founding a PRSSA chapter or student-run agency. There are also university organizations that need someone to write copy and guide their social media presence. Having an agency internship is commendable, but it’s not everything.
Readers, what are some other non-agency internships aspiring pros could pursue?
Persida Montanez is PR director at Restore One (@RestoreOne), a nonprofit organization dedicated to eradicating human trafficking and exploitation. She also works as a teaching assistant at East Carolina University.