Breaking into the PR world can be daunting – particularly coming out of UVa where communications isn’t offered as a major. But during your time in Charlottesville, you’ve honed your writing, project management and research skills from one of the best colleges in the country. Packaging your experience in the right way and making the most out of your alumni network will give you a strong boost in the hunt for a PR internship.
1) Don’t be Goldilocks: Apply at agencies of all sizes – boutique, medium and large and in multiple industry areas. Internships are the best way to test the waters to find out not only what industry areas you enjoy, but also if you’d like to be at a scrappy boutique where everyone does a little of everything all the way up to one of massive global agencies with huge intern programs.
2) Work those alumni connections: Once you identify agencies you’re interested in, look through bios on the website and on LinkedIn to find a UVa connection. Make your email outreach to them personal and sincere. I was always happy to interview a fellow Wahoo and it’s a great conversation starter. If you’re visiting their city, offer to take them out to coffee and get to know them better, get tips and background on their company and see if they have any friends or former colleagues they can put you in touch with.
3) Experience counts, but it’s not everything: Pump up your resume to reflect how you helped managed your club sports team’s social media accounts or share how you drafted press releases at your art gallery internship. Sharing that you know the basics of helping build a brand and raise the profile of an organization is a leg-up.
4) Content is king: I’m always, always looking for strong writers. Our clients need content – social media copy, blog post drafts, e-newsletter templates – and our most successful interns are the ones who have the best ability to take complicated subject matter and boil it down into something short, snappy and easy to read. If you have writing samples that reflect that (please please no long papers), bring them with you or offer to email it after your interview.
LeeAnn Martin (CLAS ’06) is Vice President at VOX Global, a strategic communications firm based in Washington, DC.
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