Much has recently been written about the “fairness”, “legality” and “reality” of unpaid internships. Many opinions have been shared, many have debated both sides of the issue and many simply do not agree on whether unpaid internships should remain a reality or not.
This very debate came up in a blog I created with 2 fellow “intern” friends: The Eternal Intern. Whereas I believe that unpaid internships raise additional “financial” entry barriers for many, my friend Rose believes that on the other hand, unpaid internships remove entry barriers into difficult to “break into” industries…1 blog…2 opinions.
One thing is for sure, in order to break into any industry today one needs experience — especially if one wishes to break into the PR profession.
Our blog can give you an idea of how important experience is. The blog retraces our story: the tale of three incredibly talented, multi-lingual, over-educated, over-internshiped, twenty-something interns, who have yet to find what they call “Eternal Employment”…a full-time job.
With more than seven PR/Communication internships in the luxury industry under my belt, I know the value of experience and how fierce competition can be. As The Eternal Intern exemplifies, young graduates with Masters Degrees and rich Resumes also have to fight their way to a full-time position.
With that said, and finally with the perspective of “Eternal Employment” at the end of the internship tunnel for us, here are 5 tips we recommend to land “eternal” and “blissful” employment as soon as possible.
1) Focus. Having a clear idea of what it is you want to pursue as a career is the most important step from the get go. Do your research, talk to professionals in the industries of choice and figure out what it is that will sincerely make you happy as a professional. Remember that “work” takes up a huge amount of time in one’s life – ensure that your choice of career is one that you will be willing to perform for the next 10-15 years to come.
2) Network. Once you have done your research and decided what industry you would like to focus on (PR perhaps?), do more research and try to find key industry players in your community. Try to set up telephone appointments or meetings to hear their experiences and to show them how motivated and determined you are to break into the PR world. PR is all about networking, meeting new people, creating new relationships, so the earlier you start the greater contacts and opportunities you will ultimately have.
3) Resume. Build your resume by getting your foot in the “professional door” as soon as possible. Any experience is good experience – just ensure you are able to link it to the PR industry and that you are able to get meaningful experience out of it. Be wise in choosing your internships – yes a big company with a big name is great for a resume, but will you gain the greatest experience there vs. a smaller company? Weigh your options wisely.
4) Network yet again. You’ve established a legitimate resume. You have a number of PR/Communication experiences under your belt. Now is time to continue networking (something you should never stop doing in fact!). Try to reach out to a more established pool of professionals, big cities, larger enterprises – don’t be scared, you now have the experience to be competitive in such a market.
5) Never give up. This is one of the toughest industries to not only break into, but to survive in. With hundreds of thousands of young graduates and young professionals vying for positions in the PR world, you will have to build some very thick skin to manage to put up with the ups, the downs, the criticism and the compliments that this industry will undeniably bring to you. Be brave, be strong and most importantly be confident. With important internship experience on your resume, good networking skills, a number of quality references and a confident character, we have no doubt that “Eternal Employment” is right around the corner.
(Flora is one of three self-described “talented, chic, fabulous, multi-lingual, over-educated, ambitious, twenty-something interns” who discuss their full-time job pursuits in their blog, The Eternal Intern. Flora, Ophelia and Rose don’t disclose their last names, but I still sought this guest post since their experiences are relevant for many fellow interns).