With graduation season on the horizon, many graduating seniors are already sick of hearing “any plans after college?” at social gatherings. For those looking for a public relations job, the application process can be a little daunting. Often, agencies are looking for new hires to have previous agency experience as well as one or more internships. Looking at the requirements section of a job listing is like getting up early to go to the gym before work – completely and utterly sole crushing. Despite what the dreaded requirements section says, it is possible to get hired as an intern or AC with zero experience and/or knowledge of PR besides what you’ve read on the internet.
I found myself walking into an agency for my first day as an intern with very little knowledge of PR, and while there were some ups and downs, I survived and have put together some tips for anyone who finds themselves in the same position.
Master tasks that everyone else hates
When you’re just starting at an agency, you’re going to have a lot of administrative duties. Instead of looking at these tasks as busy work, take advantage of the opportunity. You have to start somewhere and basic administrative projects are a good way to show you have a positive attitude and are willing to work hard. If you hear someone complaining about building a media list, volunteer to help out. They aren’t glorious, but a good media list is a cornerstone of a successful media relations push.
The same goes for media monitoring. Yes, it can be a slow process, but in the end there is no better way to become an expert in your clients’ various industries. You’re basically getting paid to get smarter which is super badass.
Do not be afraid to ask questions
This is sort of a cliché at this point, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. I had no idea what a briefing document was, what EOD meant or that “a lob” was a haircut, not the first step in an alley-oop or a really hip thing to call a lobster. It’s great when someone reaches out and takes you under their wing, but don’t be afraid to badger someone into being your mentor. The best part of asking a lot of questions is that you get a lot of answers, and these answers are coming from people with years of experience who are very good at their jobs.
The ‘fake it ‘till you make it’ technique can work, but is best left for those who are super into wearing fedoras and calling various pieces of art derivative. My advice: swallow your pride, ask questions and learn something new every chance you get.