At our New York-based PR agency, we revisit the topic of the PR intern each spring to find ways to improve the experience for our agency and its intern employees. We look for certain qualities in interns and have structured a very successful summer program for PR students that has resulted in several hires here and elsewhere. This year, we thought it might be helpful to provide a portrait of the ideal intern, who in that perfect world shows all of the following:
Keen interest in the industry. From the first interview to their last day in the office, we want to see interns who read PR blogs, want to be part of new business pitches and thirst for more knowledge about how PR fits into clients’ business strategies.
Love of, and aptitude for, writing. We have exacting standards when it comes to writing. Obviously a young college student doesn’t come to us fully formed, but we do seek those who can demonstrate basic journalistic writing ability. We then pride ourselves on offering lots of opportunities to hone their skills.
Rabid devotion to pop culture. Many the successful PR campaign is borne of a combination of client news and something fascinating going on in the world! We encourage interns to be as up on Supreme Court decisions as they are on the World Cup or the latest from Jay and Bey. You never know where a great client idea may come from.
Industriousness! An intern “standout” will always be the individual who comes looking for work, cheerfully stays late if necessary, and offers a creative or unique solution to a problem. These are some of the qualities PR clients look for in an agency as well.
No fear. Some of today’s college students have been done a tremendous disservice by well-meaning yet overly involved parents. This sometimes results in timid kids. PR is not for the timid! We seek young people who are unafraid to pick up the phone (yes, that ancient instrument for talking!) and who can handle constructive criticism from us and even outright rejection from others. Preparation for the real world is supposed to be part of every intern experience, after all.
Personality. No, we don’t mean the dreaded “people person,” but we need to see a spark and a sparkle that tells us an intern is creative and curious and a team player. Isn’t that they kind of person you want at your office?