How NOT to choose an internship site

Depression. young attractive woman with an awful migraine

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto

It is that time of year again! Spring interns are happily learning the ropes of their new “job” while those interested in a summer internship are looking to be “hired.” So, a few words of encouragement for those seeking an internship experience.

As the current internship coordinator for our Public Relations program, part of my job is to make sure students complete the internship application. One question on the application asks students to indicate his or her future goals in the area of public relations. Ideally, what students want to do will align with the internship sites they place on the application. Key word–ideally. Of course there may be instances where what a students wishes to do is not available in the immediate area (e.g. Entertainment PR, International PR, etc.). Despite, students should still look for an internship site that will offer transferable skills, not just one to complete for credit sake. So, as you are on the hunt for the “ideal” internship below are some ways to NOT choose an internship site.

1. Choosing a site based on name alone. 

Of course some organizations are more well-known than others; however, this shouldn’t be the only reason to accept a site. A well-known organization name is not always synonymous with a structured internship program or ideal/acceptable experience for your degree program.

2. Thinking your experience at a site will be the same as your friends experience. 

You will be walking into an active job site–things change. The people may have changed, the clients may have changed, and, of course, you are not exactly like your friend. It is always ideal to hear others experience, but do not assume your experience will be exactly the same.

3. Relying on the internship description alone. ASK Questions!

An internship description is a general guide with respect to what the site supervisor anticipates you will accomplish. Things change. Ask your potential site supervisor about specific projects they are currently working on and projects they think may come later on during your internship experience.

4. Accepting an internship because it is available.

There are times when this will work in your favor, but do not always count on it. If, after talking with the site supervisor, you do not think the potential site will offer transferable skills for what you want to do, then do not accept an internship offer from the site. However, you will not know if the site will allow you to build any transferable skills if you do not ask. Inform the site supervisor of what you would like to do to determine if there are activities you can participate in at the site in your desired area. So ASK! You may be pleasantly surprised.

What do you think? Do you agree with this list or are there others I have missed? Let me know in the comments below.


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10 Skills/Traits Site Supervisor’s Seek: The Internship Experience

Last month a colleague and I, along with three Internship Coordinators from two additional universities, had the opportunity to speak with the Savannah Marketing Group regarding requirements for our respective program internships. The hour long lunch meeting jogged some ideas regarding information I would like to distribute to Internship Site Supervisor’s that work with our students. But that’s another blog post.

During this meeting there was an exchange of information regarding each area’s program expectations with respect to potential internship sites, along with expectations from Internship Site Supervisor’s that may “hire” our interns. In the end, the following skills and traits were listed by these potential Internship Site Supervisor’s as desirable in an intern. As you read this list keep in mind that the work sites represented in this group range from broadcasting, communications, architecture, assisted living facility, accountant, etc.  Also keep in mind that this list is in no particular order.

10 Skills/Traits Internship Site Supervisor’s Seek

1. Strong writing skills

2. The ability to multitask

3. Takes initiative

4. Has website skills and/or graphic design skills

5. Is creative (within the brand)

6. Able to assist with, and at times, create and execute events

7. Feels comfortable contributing ideas

8. Understands and can effectively utilize social media

9. Has photography skills

10. Has research skills

If you are a site supervisor, or have held an internship position, are there additional skills/traits you would add to this list?


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Fall 2013 Internship Meeting

flier final 2011

In case you haven’t seen the printed bright yellow fliers, consider this your personal invitation to the upcoming fall 2013 internship meeting on Tuesday, September 3 at 6:30 p.m. in Veazey Hall. This meeting is for students interested in completing a public relations internship in spring or summer 2014.  At this meeting questions about internship applications, contracts, securing an internship site, and more will be answered.

An internship meeting is held at the beginning of each fall and spring semester. Just make sure you attend an internship meeting, at minimum, one semester prior to the semester in which you anticipate completing an internship. View additional internship information on our website!

See you there!


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