What To Look For In An Internship

Are unpaid internships better than paid internships? Is it better to work in an agency or a corporate setting? What kinds of opportunities will provide the most experiences?

During the internship search, there are many different ways to gain public relations experience. Whether you’re working for a corporation, agency or nonprofit, internships are not likely to be the same and there are opportunities to develop a wide range of skills. However, not every internship is created equal and it can be hard to decipher which programs are built give you the most opportunity to develop your skills.

In 2007, a PRSA task force was created to recommend guidelines and standards for public relations internships. The result was the PRSA Internship Guide, which encompasses recommendations, case studies and advice for internship providers and students. This task force comprised PRSA leaders at all levels and included PRSSA representation. Below is a list of guidelines for internship providers recommended by the task force. This list outlines the key principles of top public relations internship programs.

  1. Internships should provide robust practical experience for student.
  2. The most successful internship programs include an orientation or an on-boarding process.
  3. The internship program should establish a detailed job description and assignment.
  4. Providing students with a mentor can help a student become more productive quickly.
  5. Experiences should be long enough to ensure learning and reinforcement for the student and benefit to the provider.
  6. Internship providers should make open to interns the same training, networking and continuing education opportunities available to employees.
  7. The best internship providers establish a relationship with key universities, colleges and other institutions, and with PRSSA to recruit students with leadership talent.
  8. Increasing the number of ways internship opportunities are promoted helps providers recruit the best talent available.
  9. Most of the best internship programs compensate students in some fashion.
  10. Increasingly, internship providers sign a legal agreement required by the university, or sometimes by the provider itself, covering liability.
  11. The best internship experiences conclude with a formal final evaluation of some kind.

This list of recommendations was created by evaluating some of the country’s top internship programs at corporations and agencies. There are still good internships that do not meet all of these criteria, but the most important thing to remember is that the internship needs to work for you.

What do you think? Are there internship programs out there that meet these criteria? Do you have anything to add to the list?

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