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Weber Shandwick Seattle is proud to bring back its intern blog post series that aims to help young professionals land and make the most of their PR agency internships. In our first series, interns gave the inside scoop on What They Didn’t Tell You about careers in PR. This time around, our rock star interns will take a look at how PR professionals can come from a variety of backgrounds. Below is the fourth post in the series.

So far, my fellow interns have shared how their non-public relations backgrounds have proven useful in breaking into the business.  But what about those of us who are PR graduates and  gave sweat, blood and tears into obtaining a PR degree? Well, sit back and relax while I try to provide insight and tips into how my experiences as a PR graduate brought me closer to snagging the ever-elusive PR internship.

Flip those burgers, baby!

Never underestimate the worth of work experience –even from non-PR related jobs.

Can I tell you a secret? I only held one internship position before landing this gig at Weber Shandwick, and it wasn’t at a global agency either. Sure, I logged some PR hours with the local stormwater services program creating a campaign to reduce pet waste around the city, but I spent most of my time in college waitressing at a local restaurant. Not only was I able to keep my student loans down, but I gained valuable experience as I got promoted through the ranks and became the training manager. Though you may think it doesn’t look as refined on a resume, showing a solid work history demonstrates to your interviewer that you are A) employable and B) have the work ethic of a pack mule. It even gave me an invaluable chance to develop my future PR career.

Always put your best face forward

Opportunities hide in unexpected places.

One night while working at said job, I had a table with this incredibly kind and outgoing couple. I chatted with them throughout the evening, and eventually our chat went to my major. As it turns out, the gentleman knew the CEO of a PR firm here in Seattle. The couple said because I made such a positive impression, they would put in a good word for me and then gave me his information. I am now LinkedIn friends and keep in touch with said CEO. You never know when opportunities will arise so always put your best foot forward, and never leave home without a business card.

Let your freak flag fly

Regardless of your resume, no one wants a robot on their team.

It’s totally normal to be nervous when communicating or interviewing with a perspective employer, especially if your first time in a PR agency is at the interview. However, it’s important to remember they are people just like you and are looking for someone to join their team, not just their company. So throw some spunk in there! Don’t be afraid to show them your personality- quirkiness and all. Even if you don’t have the most action-packed PR resume, personality and charisma hold a huge amount of weight when it comes to hiring decisions. I can’t tell you how many jobs I’ve landed or people I’ve connected with directly because I was remembered as the “goofy girl with the big smile.” Your list of credentials may be short, but the impact you have on people doesn’t need to be.

Don’t be afraid to get lost

There are a million directions to take your degree –none of which are wrong.

When I first declared my major as public relations in college, I selected a political science minor out of genuine interest and the inclination that I wanted to become a lobbyist. A year later after taking an environmental science class and reinventing my own lifestyle, I found my passion in health and environmental communication. But what does that really mean? Admittedly, I was overwhelmed with the possibilities of pursuing such a passion, and I’m still working to develop my skills by exploring other realms of the PR field. That’s the absolute, sheer beauty of public relations, especially if you are backed by a degree to match! There is a niche just for you and your unique passion. Technology, global health, politics, entertainment, sports… It’s like a career buffet in this business. Don’t get stuck on the details. Dive in, and let yourself be wonderfully lost in this field. Eventually, you will find the direction that is perfect for you!

If you are left with wanting more, check out 5 Preparation Tips for the PR Intern Hopeful!

Author—Britney Johnson graduated from Washington State University and is currently an intern at Weber Shandwick Seattle. You can find out more about Britney at her LinkedIn profile.

Photo courtesy of Luz Adriana Villa A.

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