Since beginning my summer internship here at the end of May, I have learned more about the public relations industry than in my three years as a public relations student. I’m not saying that my university has not prepared me well for this industry, but there are so many aspects in this field that I simply could not have learned in a classroom setting.
Fully immersing oneself is the best way to learn. Observing client meetings, drafting client documents, watching my drafts go through rounds of copyediting, building media databases, and other tasks, have all contributed to a much-needed agency experience. I thought I knew most of the responsibilities that public relations professionals do on a day-to-day basis – but boy was I wrong.
“People-skills” are a huge characteristic that every PR person needs. Public relations is not a strictly desk and computer job. We are constantly interacting with clients and media and the professional language is something I can only learn through experience and practice. Learning how to professionally communicate is not something that a professor can teach you, but rather, it’s something that I have started to pick up while observing my coworkers and have begun practicing on a daily basis.
Public relations is strategic. You can’t just randomly throw anything at the media and hope for successful coverage. There is a date and time and place for every press release, media blast, launch announcement, proactive campaign, etc. We are always trying to succeed for our clients and, therefore, a lot of planning, editing, and strategizing goes on behind the scenes to make sure everything is perfect.
Although, I can’t say that everything I’ve done since the start of my internship has been perfect. It’s actually been anything but that. I’ve made mistakes and have experienced times when I am extremely confused, but isn’t learning the point of an internship? I have built upon my mess-ups, incorporated feedback given and applied these things to my later work.
Ask questions. This is easily the most important thing that I have learned. I’ve quickly come to the realization that I don’t know everything there is to public relations and there is still so much to learn. So as I’m entering the home stretch of my internship, I need to learn as much as possible from my colleagues before I actually enter the “real world” upon graduation from Penn State University next May.