The Importance of Internships and Gaining Relevant Experience
As a University of Iowa senior quickly approaching graduation and in search of a job, I’ve come to understand how important securing internships, as well as pursuing internship opportunities throughout my four years of college, has been.
Today, most organizations require applicants to have held a minimum of one or two prior internships to be considered, internships that are relevant to the company’s mission or ones in which you gained and exercised skills that are of interest to the company.
Although most college students don’t enjoy working during the school year or summer months, as they’d rather be travelling or hanging out with friends, it is a great time to gain hands-on, valuable work experience. Internship experience will not only help you stand out against a pool of 50 other applicants, but also help you develop into a more capable and confident professional.
My internship with Amperage has proven to be more beneficial to me as a young public relations and marketing professional than I ever expected coming in. A well-structured and comprehensive program, you can expect to learn and acquire many practical skills at Amperage, while working under the guidance and mentorship of sophisticated public relations, branding, marketing, fundraising and business professionals.
As a public relations intern, I’ve had the opportunity to help conduct media relations and pitch local media; create and edit social media calendars for clients; write and distribute press releases; attend video production shoots for various marketing campaigns; contribute to creative brainstorming sessions; review branding platforms and marketing plans; learn how to build media lists using programs like Cision and Vocus; and everything in between.
All of these tasks have helped better qualify me for entry-level PR and media positions because they’re responsibilities you can only gain in a real work environment, not in the classroom. You can learn how to write pitch letters and press releases in school, but in this fast-paced industry, you aren’t receiving letter grades for your work. You’re trying to secure media placements and coverage for clients that will ultimately boost their profit margins and improve their reputations.
So here is my ultimate suggestion to freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors in college: Get out beyond the classroom and apply yourselves. Optimize your resume and apply for internships or leadership positions that are relevant to your area of study and expertise. Expand your knowledge by collaborating with and supporting professionals in a challenging work environment. Not only will you be more highly prepared for the work force, but you’ll also grow your connections and receive networking opportunities like no other.