An internship is a must for all public relations students. They provide great opportunities to gain experience and do some networking, and an internship will hopefully help you land a job in a tough job market. The real-world experience gained through an internship gives you an edge over the competition for jobs. The best public relations internships let you work on real client campaigns and acquire real coverage for clients.

Many public relations firms begin accepting summer internship applications in January, and by May they’ve selected their interns. A typical public relations agency internship lasts eight weeks. Let’s take a look at some tips that are sure to help you land that dream internship.

Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA)

Public Relations Student Society of America provides internship listings and allows you to post your resume. You can search for internship listings by date, location, organization, or keyword. Posting your resume allows prospective employers nationwide to consider you for internships. You must be a PRSSA member to apply for the internships.

Career Services Office

Career services office staff members at your school are sure to be extremely knowledgeable about internship openings. They can also help you create an effective cover letter and resume.

Alumni Office

Many colleges have databases of alumni who can help you find an internship. Volunteering at an alumni event provides valuable networking opportunities.

Virtual Internships

Virtual internships in public relations are sometimes offered to students living outside of a public relations agency’s region. A virtual intern may perform tasks such as monitoring media coverage, building and maintaining media lists, and tracking media/speaking engagement placements as well as researching, developing, and distributing media materials. Some virtual interns are even given opportunities to pitch to specific media outlets. Interns communicate through Skype, telephone, email, and texting.

Create Your Own Internship

Contact a company that you’d like to work for, even if it doesn’t have an internship program. Visit the company or call them and ask if they’d be interested in hiring an intern. Visit the company’s website and find the name and email address of the appropriate person. Send an email explaining why you want an internship and how you can benefit the company or organization. Make sure to demonstrate your strong interest in the company.

Propose a specific area of interest or project you want to pursue. Typically, internships created for a specific individual are unpaid, however they often provide greater dividends because you’re able to shape the parameters of the internship.

Telephone Inquiry

Making a pitch for an internship via the telephone gives you an edge on the competition. Be very clear about how you can help the company, and show some enthusiasm. Be sure to follow up with another telephone call; the follow up call shows a strong interest in the internship and a passion for the nature of the work.

Resume and Cover Letter

A great resume is a marketing brochure. It highlights your relevant accomplishments and should include your job experience, previous internship experience, education, major, and your special skill sets. Include a favorable performance review from an internship if you have one. Get letters of recommendation from your public relations instructors. And above all, show some passion for public relations!

In your cover letter, write a compelling opening summary emphasizing how you would contribute to the team. Place the details most relevant to the internship near the top of the resume. Focus on any college projects that relate to the knowledge and skills required for the internship.

If you have minimal work experience, emphasize the education section of your resume. Highlight volunteer work even if it’s not related to public relations because it shows transferable skills valued by any company. Focus on how you demonstrated dependability, dedication, excellent service, creativity, and enthusiasm.

Tailor your cover letter specifically to the internship. Many employers won’t continue to read an internship cover letter if it comes across as a template. Mention the skills you’ll bring to the internship. Express your interest and enthusiasm for the company.

Respond to the information in the internship position description. Learn what the company wants from the intern and show them you can meet their expectations.

Public relations internships help employers identify and recruit talented, motivated employees. After you obtain the internship, treating it like a job increases your chances of receiving a job offer after the internship ends.

Brian Jenkins writes about a variety of job-related topics, including careers in public relations, for The Riley Guide.  Brian has a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of California, Santa Barbara.