As spring semester nears, more and more of my underclassmen friends are starting to panic about internships.
Being so overwhelmed with the post-grad job search, it’s hard for me to remember that I was the same the way last year. I wound up with two offers, one with the corporate communications department of a Fortune 500 company and one with a global PR agency.
And I chose the agency. It turned out to be a great career decisions.
It was a crash course in PR.
I thought coming in with a public relations major I would understand how to do most things. Maybe I had never worked for clients like the ones I was assigned, but I had at least done basic PR work.
On one level I was right. I knew most of the PR terminology and the basics of pitching, writing, etc.
But there were also a lot of things about working at an agency that I had to learn on the go. Sure, I had done SWOTs and audits in class but it was nothing like the research I had to for clients with quick turn arounds. I had never done a real campaign from scratch like I would for the summer intern project.
Even comparing this summer’s experience to the PR campaigns class I took this fall at school, I’m glad I had the summer experience. While the class I took stretched out a campaign over a semester with a group of 20, my summer project team was much smaller and much more intense. It gave me an idea of what a campaign looks like in the real business world. It sounds so cliche and obvious, but what you do in school rarely fully emulates how things work in a real job.
I would’ve certainly learned a lot working in-house, but working at an agency gave me a more diverse set of tasks. Although some agency interns might be more limited in what they work on, my supervisor was always proactive in making sure I had the chance to work on different types of projects. I also experienced what an entry-level position would be like since I was given the chance to take on several Assistant Account Executive duties, like daily media monitoring while my team was transitioning staff.
If you’re thinking about an agency internship, I can’t guarantee you’ll love it like I did. But I do think an internship at the right agency can make a world of difference in preparing you for your career in public relations.
And now to plug my former employer:
I really do recommend Ogilvy Public Relations for any current juniors( application info here). And if you have any questions about my experience as an intern in the New York office, feel free to email me at email@example.com.
You won’t be fetching coffee at OPR (unless it’s for yourself). All of the interns in my cohort had the chance to do real client work and were valued members of their client teams. And it’s seriously a fun place to work. I know every company tries to say it’s a fun place to work, but I can vouch for Ogilvy. The Chocolate Factory might be in the middle of nowhere ( relatively speaking for NYC), but it’s kind of its own miniature town with 11 floors of all Ogilvy-owned companies. OPR even has its own fun committee called the “Take Five” committee.
I hope this post has helped any PR students wondering about whether or not to apply to agency internships. Feel free to comment with questions!