By Greta Banks
For most of us, summer is spent working to fill up our résumé and our bank account. If you are lucky enough to have a job or internship in your field, congratulations! However, if not, there’s no need to worry. There are lots of ways to develop public relations skills and experience while working your regular summer job.
Find a remote internship
There are so many openings for remote internships that you can do from home, outside of your regular job. Online job boards like Internships.com are a great place to search for these types of opportunities. While you may not have a PR internship lined up for this summer, there are plenty of remote positions in marketing, social media and design that you can do to develop industry skills.
Remote internships may also be more enjoyable than other forms. According to data collected by TinyPulse, remote workers tend to be slightly happier and feel more valued than the overall population of workers. Remote internships also provide you the opportunity to cultivate skills unique to the format, like time management and working independently.
Contribute to an online publication
Writing skills provide a great foundation for a career in public relations, so having your work published is a great way to showcase your abilities. It also affords you an outlet to fine-tune your technical skills, and to practice the more challenging aspects, like clarity and storytelling.
Browse different industry publications, like PRSay, Progressions and Platform Magazine. Read some of their pieces to understand their style and voice. Learn how to submit contributions to these publications, and pitch something of your own. Once you’ve gotten your work published, make sure to include it on your résumé and link it on your LinkedIn page so that potential employers are able to see it.
Start a blog or social media account dedicated to something you’re interested in
Blogging is a great way to develop your personal brand, which is especially important for PR students. It’s also another great way to practice writing and creativity, which are both must-have skills for PR professionals, according to Guardian Careers. A good blog can be about anything you’re interested in; in fact, it will be more successful if you can connect with what you’re writing about. Look for tips online about how to build a successful blog.
Feel like blogging isn’t for you? Try another platform. Social media is another good way to highlight your personal brand. By making a dedicated account for a topic you’re interested in, you can also demonstrate your ability to use social media strategically, which is vitally important to public relations. Whether it be dogs or food, being deliberate in your actions and demonstrating a deeper understanding of the platform will be a valuable experience.
Sure, you aren’t getting paid, but there are plenty of benefits to volunteering. To start, it looks good on your résumé. In addition to the experience you gain, you also demonstrate that you are motivated, caring and hardworking. According to this Forbes article, it also increases your chances of finding a job. In addition, you can fill any skill gaps you may have by volunteering in an area where you need more experience.
Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have a PR internship this summer; the opportunities to work on your PR skills are endless.
Greta Banks is going to be a senior at the University of Alabama where she is majoring in economics and public relations. She is a public affairs intern in the Houston office of H-E-B. This post also appears in the current issue of Platform Magazine.