At American University, it’s common for students to balance an internship with a full courseload. But how do you get an internship in the first place?
- Perfect your Resume: I honestly cannot say enough nice things about the Career Center. If you’re looking to improve your resume or just would like another set of eyes to look at it, make an appointment with your career advisor!
- Put Together a Portfolio: Companies are taking a chance in hiring you for an internship so you need to show them you know your stuff! Start putting together a portfolio of your work. If you’ve taken Public Relations Writing, save the press releases, media alerts and op-eds you wrote. Those are perfect for your portfolio! Have you been involved in PRSSA and have an event program or design to share? Many of my interviewers have been in PRSA and are always excited that I’m in PRSSA, it’s a great conversation starter. I purchased a portfolio binder from Office Max and I love it because it looks nicer than a regular binder & has an invisible sleeve on the cover that fits my resume.
- Do Your Homework: Research the company on www.glassdoor.com, LinkedIn and through a general Google search. Treat it as a project and take notes. If you know who is interviewing you, look them up on LinkedIn and learn their background to familiarize yourself with what the company stands and how you can fit in. Plus, they’ll be impressed that you know about the company. After all, you wouldn’t go through the work if you weren’t passionate about getting an internship there!
- Prep for the Interview: This is where your homework starts to pay off. You’ll almost always be asked “Tell us about yourself” so work on creating a 30 second elevator speech. Also, participate in a mock interview (once again, the Career Center will become your BFF) and write elevator speeches about the points on your resume. If you practice, the interview would go much more smoothly because you won’t be so nervous. Make sure you practice with a conversational tone, no one wants to hire a robot! Words of wisdom: if you fail to prepare, prepare to fail.
- Dress for Success: A first impression is a critical element of the interview so make sure you look presentable. Public relations is all about selling ideas & thoughts: learn to metaphorically sell yourself! Present yourself through your wardrobe as a mature, responsible and ready-to-work intern! Some companies are more casual or conservative than others so do some research on the company culture. If you aren’t sure, it’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed!
Armed with this set of tools, you are well on your way to landing your dream internship! Of course, everyone gets nervous but knowing you prepared well for this interview & a few deep breaths will put you at ease. Good luck!
Lauren Reddington, Publicity Director