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The Summer PR Internship: Best Practices

A summer internship can be a stepping stone to a brilliant PR agency career. We’ve hired some of our interns as full-time staff and are proud that our program helps identify future consumer and tech PR stars!

In fact, we’ve been spot on in selecting candidates who’ve provided real value to our company, and the feedback we get from these summer employees has been very positive as well.

As the newest crop of fresh-faced recruits comes aboard we’d like to share some of our best practices and strategies that make the summer PR intern experience beneficial for all.

Carve out discrete roles ahead of time. Determine a project roadmap with responsibilities and reporting structure as early into the internship as you can. Be very clear about start/end dates, office hours and expectations. Leave room for changes and course corrects, but the more “black and white” the assignment is, the easier it will be to create a successful routine.

Assign individual and group projects. At Crenshaw, we typically have three summer interns. We seat them together so they can brainstorm and collaborate. Although they will each have individual duties on particular accounts, we assign a group project to be completed during their tenure. Typically, this is a research, pro bono, or new business proposal that the group prepares together, or a company marketing assignment like an overhaul of our agency content. Young PR talent thrives on this combination of individual and team-building exercises.

Plan a field trip. Getting out of the office is a great way for interns to get to know senior staffers in a less structured yet still “educational” way. We like to provide an inside glimpse into key areas of importance for anyone considering a career in PR.  In the past, “field trips” have included coffee or drinks with a media contact, a visit to Conde Nast and other media outlets, as well as field research on client competitors! This summer will likely include a visit to a major NY media outlet.

Get interns involved in plum PR assignments. To augment the more rote, daily tasks of a PR intern such as media monitoring and list development, we like to involve them in some of the more exciting work we typically do. Summer interns are always invited to work on (and attend)  whatever events our company is planning – a technology expert panel discussion or new product launch, for example. We also help interns get real experience by shadowing a desksider tour, media training or broadcast interview.

Encourage intern feedback. At the end of the program, we look to our summer staff to tell us what worked and what could be improved. Much of the feedback we’ve received has helped us hone the “group assignment” dimension of our program which continues to be a winner with each summer’s new interns.

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