It’s that time of the year again! If you’re a college student you’re most likely dusting off that business suit mom and dad said you absolutely needed and if you’re an employee you’re combing through cover letters and resumes looking for someone to catch your eye, preferably someone who spelled your name right in their cover letter.
So, the million dollar question, drumroll please, how do you stand out and land that Public Relations internship? We’ve got some great tips right from both ends of the interview table. Our current (and fabulous) intern Monica has five great tips that helped her earn her way into our Public Relations firm for not one, but TWO semesters and yours truly will give you the top five things I look for in the youngest and newest addition to our team.
Monica’s Tips on Knocking an Intern Interview out of the Park
1. “I’m Ready!”
There are ways to let you’re interviewer know you’re enthusiastic and ready to get to work on some of the less glamorous tasks that the internship requires. After the interview is over, be sure to ask questions about the tasks you’ll be performing. I recommend, “What does a typical day look like for someone in this position?” This lets an interviewer know you have a great work ethic.
2. Make a List and Check It Twice
After researching the company and deciding that it is a good fit for you, make a list of things need to bring to your interview. Extra copies of your resume, cover letter and writing samples are a must, but refer to the internship description to make sure you’re not forgetting any important requirements. Having these materials, along with several references on hand shows the interviewer that not only are you prepared, but confident and enthusiastic about the position.
3. Timing Is Everything
You owe it to yourself to arrive to your interview on time! There’s no shame in planning out the logistics of the interview days in advance- this includes transportation, and directions. It’s hard to make a great first impression if you’re frazzled after missing your train or getting lost!
4. To Tweet or Not to Tweet?
While public relations and social media have become close friends; having hundreds of followers on Twitter hardly classifies you as a social media expert (much to my dismay). Your boss doesn’t care that it’s Harry Style’s birthday, so unless you use twitter to engage with influencers in your field or showcase your creative, concise and office appropriate writing skills, its’ probably best to leave your twitter handle off your resume.
5. Be Interested and Interesting
You may be asking yourself, “Monica, how can I possibly be interesting in such a serious setting?!” Although they may seem formulaic, an interview is nothing more than a conversation. I recommend finding a way to talk about your interests when you’re answering those tough interview questions. When asked the question “How would your experience help you in this internship?” I mentioned the event planning and communication skills I had learned from serving as my sorority’s Alumnae and Foundation Liaison. This sparked a great conversation with one of my interviewers. Find common ground with your interviewer by using your extracurricular activities, hobbies and interests to talk about your experience- and don’t forget to include an anecdote from your conversation in a Thank You note!
Paloma’s Dream Intern Interview (in addition to them wearing the business suit)
1. You really want to be a part of the team.
This doesn’t mean you skip into the conference room playing the kazoo, although that would certainly make you stand out. When I say excitement, I mean I can see how much you want this internship and that you are eager to learn from us. When I ask if you have any questions for me, you fire back with well thought out and appropriate questions. I want to see that you’re sitting in front of me not because you need the credit or because your student advisor harassed you to find an internship, but because public relations excites you and you can’t wait to start building a media list! Ok, the latter is a joke, but I think you get the point.
2. You’re personable.
Being that PR and events go hand in hand, there are a lot of events to be planned and staffed. I need to be able to see that I can have you call vendors and invite guests and they would be happy to work and speak with you. I need to be able to see that we can have you at the check-in table of an event and you’ll be polite and friendly to every single guest and handle it with grace when someone isn’t too thrilled that they aren’t on the list.
3. You can tell me why.
Of all the PR firms in Boston, why Regan? Did you pick us out of a hat? Do you like being near the water? Or did you research the company and our client list, and see a fit for yourself? I would like to see that you chose Regan for a reason and that you did your homework to come to that conclusion. If you truly don’t want to intern somewhere, you are not going to get the most out of it.
4. You want to be involved.
Obviously, meeting you for the first time in an interview I will not be familiar with your work ethic, but I should be able to tell from your resume and the experiences that you share with me that you enjoy being busy and you’re not afraid of working hard. Perhaps you’re the editor of your school paper or the captain of a sports team or you volunteer. All of those things require additional time and effort on top of your course load and, possibly, job and to me that is impressive. I’m looking for someone who not only can handle the workload, but is ready and willing to challenge themselves.
5. Don’t let me forget you.
When the interview is over, that doesn’t mean your time to make an impression has run out. I know it’s been said over and over again, but a timely, handwritten thank you note does not go unappreciated. If I told you you’d hear from me by Friday and its Tuesday, don’t be afraid to follow up. It shows me that you really want this internship and you’re not going to let it go that easily. Speaking of not hearing back, if I email you and offer you the internship, a quick response also shows me you’ve got a death grip on this internship. These days it’s probably safe to say everyone has their email on their phone so there really is no excuse to not hear back from you for days. Completely understandable if you are weighing your options and need some time to mull it over, but just let us know that.
I’ll leave you with this final tidbit; your internship is what you make of it, it’s up to you what kind of experience you walk away with.
Please feel free to put these tips to the test with Regan as we are still looking for fall interns! Please email KFoley@regancomm.com with your resume, cover letter and writing samples if you’re interested.
-Paloma Richards and Monica Almeida, Team Joanna