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This post is part of our new blog series that will aim to help young professionals land and make the most of their PR agency internships. For the next few weeks, expect to find useful advice and first-hand experiences from our bloggers and very own whiz-bang team of interns.

It was my first day as a PR intern at Weber Shandwick Seattle and what was I thinking about? All the countless hours spent perfecting essays, practicing presentations and studying the history of public relations. Ok, maybe not…but all the lessons I learned throughout school have helped me in both landing this coveted internship and applying those skills now that I’m here.

Unfortunately, I attended a college that did not offer a public relations major. While I initially saw this as a disadvantage, I came to realize what a great opportunity this was for me—I was able to create my own mix of PR classes and experiences. Here are the three most useful things I learned from my college experience with regard to entering the PR industry:

  1. You don’t have to major in PR to become a “PR Pro.” That being said, you do need to take classes that will help you prepare for a future in PR. I majored in English and Communications and I can’t stress how important my English literature and writing classes have been in developing PR writing skills (e.g. press releases, pitches and, of course, the Holy Grail that is AP style). I’ve taken classes that maybe weren’t PR focused but still emphasized essential PR tools like interview techniques, public speaking and creative writing.
  2. Go outside the classroom. Just because you’re in college, doesn’t mean that you can’t learn outside of campus. I was able to intern during the school year by getting college credit for my internships. Many schools offer credit for PR internships and some now require students to intern in order to graduate. Another great thing about being in school is that there are countless resources available to students to find internships. Start your internship search at your college’s career center, check online to see if your college has an exclusive job site for students and alumni or visit Weber Shandwick’s job listing site to see if there are any open internship positions. As a current Weber Shandwick intern, I am able to get involved in the entire process of our PR efforts for clients from brainstorming to client calls to pitches and coverage. The opportunities and training I’m exposed to have reinforced and expanded my knowledge of fundamental tools in PR and broadened my experiences on a global scale.
  3. Get involved! A great way to start networking with PR professionals is by joining your school’s PRSSA chapter or other PR and communications clubs. More important than just joining is becoming an active member. Make an effort to go to chapter meetings, events and conferences because they’re great networking and educational opportunities. If you want to go above and beyond, join the leadership ranks of one of your school’s PR clubs.

Following these rules helped me land a great PR internship and made me realize just how important my experiences from school have been in getting here. It’s imperative to expose yourself to as many different opportunities as possible because they will help you build the foundation for great internship and career possibilities in the future. Best of luck in your PR endeavors!

Author—Annika Ekroll is currently an intern at Weber Shandwick Seattle. You can find out more about Annika on LinkedIn or follow her on twitter @annikaekroll.

Image courtesy of 04deveni.

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