Q. As a college junior, I realize career-relevant internships are important. But I’m having trouble finding one that pays. And I can’t afford to not make some money this summer. What do you suggest? -AK
A. Paid internships in PR are hard to land for undergrads since many agencies prefer to hire recent graduates or grad students for these positions. If you have a specific PR career area of interest – event marketing, consumer, healthcare or financial, broaden your search to any job in these fields.
For instance, if you’re interested in the field of entertainment, seek out the many summer jobs at Great America and other major amusement parks. Even if the job opening isn’t directly related to PR, it still builds your resume by demonstrating interest in the industry. Interested in healthcare PR? Working for a local hospital, nursing home, medical clinic or pharmaceutical company will leap to the attention of future hiring managers.
Last year, I ran into a former student at O’Hare airport as she was promoting a new American Express Card. She was working for a promotions company for the summer (and making $6 more an hour than PR internships typically pay). A year later, I heard from her when she landed a corporate/financial communications position with a major agency. She credited the AMEX experience with helping launch her career.
With hundreds of individuals often applying for just one coveted PR position, be open minded about considering an easily explainable detour towards the job you eventually want. Just make sure the not-PR specific position logically builds on the personal narrative you’re developing for your desired career.