An Undergraduate’s Journey for Real-World Experience – Internships

Written by Rose MacNicol, PRINZ Student Ambassador

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In 2015 PRINZ introduced a ‘PRINZ Student Ambassador Programme’ to increase engagement with students and, in addition to the Graduate Member class, give them a membership pathway. The programme gives students a head-start in the industry, encouraging them to participate in the PRINZ community. This blog post is written by Rose MacNicol, PRINZ Student Ambassador at Massey University, Wellington.

As a soon-to-be graduate, I remember hearing a guest speaker at one of my second year lectures saying, “although achieving a degree is a great success, you can’t forget about the importance of gaining real-world experience within the industry.” Sure, I loved developing campaigns and media releases for my public relations classes, but I never really thought of applying these to the real world.

My first experience with an internship was a bit of a flop. This was due to the fact that I didn’t receive a lot of guidance which left me spending way too much time staring at a computer screen with no idea what to do. I decided half way through this internship it would be mutually beneficial for both the organisation and myself to break it off.

Although a bit hesitant of going back to gain experience in the workforce, I entered third year and discovered a new internship opportunity at the Ministry of Social Development. I worked in the Central Regional Office of Child Youth and Family for three months. I worked on many different stories and uploaded them to their intranet, interviewed people, and attended local events. I worked closely alongside the communications manager and developed a number of skills and become a confident member of the office team.

Keen to meet more people within the industry and gain further experience, I applied to become a PRINZ Student Ambassador. Successfully achieving this role, I was introduced to a mentor who provided me with the connection to another internship focusing on social media which was an aspect that hadn’t been covered in my previous internship.

The following are key tips which I have learnt from my experiences with internships. These can apply to both PR practitioners within organisations and interns themselves:

  • Network: This is crucial, as soon as I entered first year the necessity of this skill was drilled into me. Talk to everybody, and put yourself forward for as many networking events as you can. You never know when or where the next internship opportunity, or keen student may be lurking.
  • Mentor-Student Relationship: Getting to know each other and communicating regularly avoids feelings of isolation which may be felt by the nervous intern. Informal morning catch up meetings give both the intern and the mentor a chance to let each other know how they are doing, and what needs to be done.
  • Be Eager: As an intern, be open and keen for every opportunity. For the organisation and intern it is vital to not be afraid of learning new things, even if they may be different to what you’re used to.
  • Ask questions: Understanding how the office works, what role each team member has, and knowing they are on the right track with their tasks is vital for an intern. The old phrase, ‘no question is a dumb question’ is key to a successful intern experience.

Picture Credit: iStock – Getty Images

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