By: Jordan Ross
At Eastern Michigan University, and many other colleges and universities around the country, in order to graduate with a degree in public relations, you will need to complete an internship. The possibilities as to what you can do are endless, as long as at the end of the day what you are doing relates to PR in some capacity.
By undertaking an internship, a student gains valuable experience that can’t exactly be taught in the classroom. The great thing about an internship is that it can enhance all that is learned throughout a student’s studies, and prepare them for a life after college when they are out in the workplace contributing to the growth of the PR field.
Actually, finding an internship can sometimes be a tricky situation. As someone who’s been through it and had a heck of a time finding an internship, I’m here to give you a little advice that will hopefully calm any nerves you may have.
Don’t have any hard feelings.
Let me take you way back to December 2015, when I began to look for internships that would not only provide me with a lot of valuable experience, but also those that I found to be really interesting. I was browsing the website Indeed.com, which is an excellent tool for searching prospective jobs and internships, and happened to find an internship for the Detroit Zoo. I thought that would be the coolest thing ever! I applied once I saw it, and even emailed the coordinator because I was so eager to talk with her about this opportunity that looked so amazing.
One week went by…no response. A second week went by…still no response. I began to feel distraught and down on myself since I didn’t hear back from them. Was it something I did? Was it something I didn’t have that they were looking for? There were so many questions running through my head that I wanted answers to.
At the time I didn’t realize it, but I was not the only one who wanted this opportunity. There are people out there who might be just as or even more qualified than I was, and that’s OK! I kept faith that someone would give me an opportunity, and when they did, they wouldn’t regret it. After going through that experience, I can say that while it may not feel the best at the time, things do get better. Even if you don’t get the internship you were seeking, don’t take it personal. There are other fish in the sea of internships—I promise you!
Sometimes, it’s just good to be lucky.
Fast forward to summer 2016, and I still hadn’t found an internship. My goal was to find one before the summer since I’d have so much free time on my hands for activities, but alas I was unable to. Many people I knew had already secured their internships, and there I was still looking for one. To be honest, I was pretty bummed out and was not sure how I was going to get this internship that I needed to graduate. But somehow, someway, my luck changed one day by just doing what I did in my normal routine in the summer and going to work.
At my job, I help customers prepare for the events they have, and as a result, I have the opportunity to interact with many people. One day I happened to meet the principal of Washtenaw International Middle School. She asked me what my major was and I told her PR, and she told me that she just so happened to know someone who was looking to hire an intern. I hadn’t even said I was looking for an internship so it must’ve just shown on my face.
I don’t remember whether it showed on my face, but it was the most excited I had been in a long time. It just goes to show that you never know when opportunity will strike, so be ready.
Make friends—you never know when you will need them.
Shortly after I received my first long-sought-out internship opportunity, a friend and old co-worker of mine emailed me about another internship opportunity that he thought I would be interested in. I must say I was very interested in the opportunity. The only downside to this situation was that I was just offered an internship, and didn’t want to turn it down because it was my first opportunity. A few weeks before, I couldn’t find an internship to save my life—now I was having a hard time making a choice between two! Life just works in crazy ways sometimes.
Which leads me to my last quick tip!
Don’t burn bridges.
After much thought, I ended up accepting the second offer that I had received from my friend and old co-worker. Although I accepted another position, I still keep an open line of communication with the school that gave me my original internship offer. We agreed to still meet up every once in a while when our schedules align to have coffee and discuss things that both of us are working on. By keeping in touch, we both are able to develop a relationship that can last through the future. As I mentioned before, you never know when your friends may come in handy.
Just as no two people are exactly alike in this world, no two people will have the exact same experience in gaining their first internship. As someone who had a more difficult time than what they anticipated, just hang in there. Things have a funny way of working out over time. Continue to work hard and have confidence in your abilities. Once you get that call that the internship is yours, you will thank yourself that you did.
Jordan Ross is a senior at Eastern Michigan University majoring in public relations and minoring in communications. Jordan is in his first semester serving as the Vice President of Professional Development for EMU’s Eleanor Wright Chapter of PRSSA. Jordan is also a member of EMU’s Honors College and serves as the President of the EMU Student Center Student Employee Advisory Committee. You can find Jordan on Twitter @_JJRoss.