A reflection on interning in PR

While I certainly had the capacity to complete the tasks given to me during my time as an intern in the PR sector, there were certainly times where my ill-informed understanding of the professional workplace may have set me back. Such things as effective communication, knowledge of industry trends and people, and overall professional independence come to mind.

Effective communication is key to any professional field — and is certainly central to the public relations industry. As an intern I learnt both the importance and necessity of effective communication skills. Online communication (use of emails) were at the heart of exchanging information between fellow employees and clients. Unlike previous experiences with emails, it was paramount that each email was read over, and would be positively understood by the receiving end. Successful ‘emailing’ as part of professional communications is something that I will certainly take with me in my career and is something vital to how you are perceived and presented. Previously thought of as a useless skill, I now know its value and will continue to learn how to communicate effectively with potential employees and/or clients through ongoing experience.

Another learning curve for my professional education was having the required knowledge of industry trends. During my time as an intern this came about through the use and understanding of social media. Like most people my age, my capacity for social media is quite high, and I like to prize myself on my social media skill set. However one aspect of social media I was not thoroughly exposed to was how to manage a social media community. This activity requires more than a well thought out ‘post’ but requires the capacity to engage and converse with consumers/customers/users, and to do so without hurting the client’s brand. The World PR Report 2015 states that when looking at skills that will be most relevant for PR executives over the next decade, social media community management was at the top of the list with 39.7%, so it certainly is an area I must continue to focus on, and will continue to do so through personal online media, and further professional use of social media.

The ability to be independent in a professional environment is somewhat daunting as an intern, as it is your primary goal not to let anything go wrong on your behalf. However, it is in binary conflict with the desire to impress by taking initiative and acting on your own accord. An article in the Harvard Business Review states: “Two key aspects of autonomy are having the ability to make meaningful decisions in work and then feeling confident that — barring serious errors — those decisions will hold.” During my internship there were times where taking my own initiative may have caused (small amounts of) chaos and I did not take action for a lack of confidence. However, as my intern experience drew to an end, it became clear when and where I was able to be independent. Professional independence is vital to my future career, as it will show my capacity for step up and potentially lead. My confidence in believing in my independence in a professional setting will only increase through further experience and stepping forward as a leader or creative thinker.

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