I had spent months before calling, emailing and essentially stalking every editorial assistant in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane and was over the moon when I finally got accepted by one of them.
As the coordinator of the Red PR work experience program, I have now sat on the other side of the fence can see some of the most common mistakes I fell into when applying for internships. I am also in the position to now see the attributes (and attitudes) that make students stand out and get hired.
So for university student hopefuls looking to do work experience, I have put together a list of tips for getting your foot firmly in the door and keeping it there as a PR intern.
When applying for the role…
- Do emphasise your professional strengths in your cover letter, as well as the skill set you will be able to bring to the team rather than what you hope to gain. A great internship will be a two way street, but this is your time to sell yourself not the other way around.
- Don’t forget to also discuss why you want to work at that particular organisation. Doing your homework here is a sure way to stand out here and show passion, enthusiasm and attention to detail.
- Do be prepared to answer questions about the company’s history and achievements if you get through to the interview stage. This is a standard question asked by intern recruiters to weed out those who have not researched the company so make sure that’s not you!
- Don’t ring ten times to ensure that your application has been received. Following up your application with an email or phone call is a great way to keep yourself top-of-mind however there is a fine line between polite persistence and pain.
- Do keep your resume looking impressive and clean by being selective about what you include. The sports you played and marks you got in Year 10 can probably afford to be left off.
- Do be creative in making your resume stand out and include some samples of writing.
Once you are there…
- Do wear clothes appropriate to the company. Every company has its own dress code and cultural attitudes towards appropriate attire. If you aren’t sure about what to wear, ask your internship coordinator prior to your first day to make sure you are prepared. No matter where you are working make sure you look neat, clean and sharp. If in doubt, play it safe for your first day!
- Don’t complain about working for free or being bored in a certain task. Companies invest time having interns there and ones that appear ungrateful do not last.
- Do show up on time and always call if you are going to be late.
- Don’t tell me you can’t come in today because you are tired or have a tennis lesson – in the real world, you can’t do that when you are employed.
- Do take initiative. Think about things you can do to further assist the team. Saving your colleagues time/stress is a great way to leave a lasting impression
- Do communicate with your supervisor. If there are certain tasks you particularly enjoy or would like more practice at, make sure you tell someone. You are here to get as much out of the experience as possible, so don’t let your talents go unnoticed.
- Do keep in touch. One of the most useful things about internships is the connections you make. After you part ways, be sure to keep your relationships by touching base every now and again. It’s a small industry and you never know who may be able to help you in the future. I stayed in touch with the editor’s PA at a magazine I interned at years ago and now she is the Beauty Editor and a great contact. I also stayed in touch with Red PR following my internship and I have been here 18 months now and loving it!