How Intern Hopefuls Should Put the “P” in PR

Summer FellowTime flies by when you’re having (public relations) fun. Today officially concludes my first month as a research intern in Ketchum’s New York office. Despite being only one month into my internship, my Ketchum journey has been deep and dirty (and by dirty, I mean aggressive, hands-on, and involved).

If you haven’t read Bill Zucker’s blog post on his “accidental internship,” you should. As stated in his article, “The route to a dream internship can be a bumpy one.” This quote made me look back on my experience, and I can’t help but think about what a winding and exhausting time that was. Now, I’m sitting in an office chair, living in the results of my consistent efforts.

I suppose this internship is the metaphorical “destination” I’ve been fighting for – and the question of the hour is (drumroll please) how on earth did I get here?

Passion. Most obviously, I am passionate about the reason why I’m in this chair every day. PR is dynamic and seeing consumer interactions are intriguing. Those ever-changing elements within this field excite me. Nowadays, GPA and resumes may say something, but enthusiasm and experience mean something to employers.

Purpose. Okay, you love PR. Now tell me more. I moved around different departments at a small PR firm in Denver, Colorado to help discover my niche. I used resources, asked questions and narrowed my choices down. Employers like to see a sense of direction and purpose in your work. A simple “I like PR” is dwarfed by knowing first-hand the reasons your strengths align with a specific department.

Persistence. It’s possibly the most underrated element of the job search. I visited my favorite professor’s office for advice, practiced interview skills with my university career center, and distributed my resume to countless friends and professionals for feedback. I connected with employees in the Ketchum network who referred me to others and so on and so forth. I spoke with the leaders of some of my favorite campaigns and asked questions when I could. I applied to several locations and offices. I faced the humbling reality of rejection and ultimately felt the sweet solace of overcoming it. It’s an unbelievable feeling to know that I put in so much time and effort in my job search and, thankfully, landed at my goal—Ketchum.

Praise. Bill Zucker notes the importance of having a mentor and asking questions. That being said, it’s important to appreciate and give back to the people guiding you, no matter what happens. You’ve heard it before, but I can stress it enough—a personal hand-written thank you note goes a long way. Appreciation and respect will drive others to sing your praises, creating a circle of compliments that never seem to end.

These four P’s connect to an overarching theme—a willingness to recalculate the path, instead of canceling the route. It’s a matter of utilizing resources and absorbing messages along the way. So yes, Bill Zucker, the advice stemming from your internship 30 years ago is certainly applicable today (not just during the internship process, but also before it begins). The acceptance of an internship, no matter how it has been earned, is the start of bigger career achievements.

Jillian Voege is a rising senior at the University of Denver, Daniels College of Business. She is pursuing a degree in Marketing with minor studies in Economics and Statistics; backed by a zeal for consumer insights and industry trends. She is a summer intern for Ketchum Global Research & Analytics (KGRA), where she contributes to traditional and social research initiatives. Her interests include deep sea fishing, painting and spontaneous camping trips. Follow Jillian on Twitter @jvoegz.