Why New Graduates Should Consider a Professional Internship – and How to Land One

Ellie Hodgkinsby Ellie Hodgkins

You did it! You graduated from college. Now, to apply that degree in the field.

On average, 118 people apply for any given job and only 20 percent land an interview. So, how do you break through and rise above the rest?

While it might not seem like the obvious next step toward the marketing or public relations career of your dreams, a professional internship is a great option for you to continue gaining real-world experience and beef up your résumé while hunting for a full-time job.

Curley & Pynn’s professional internship has been the steppingstone for many recent grads on their journey to accomplished careers, including those who went on to work at a New York advertising and marketing agency, an international real estate development company and the Peace Corps, as well as a few who transitioned into a full-time role with the firm.

Here are some of the key things these professionals did to help them land a professional internship with Curley & Pynn and succeed in their subsequent careers

They perfected their résumés.

Review your résumé. Have a friend review it. Have a mentor review it. Have a stranger review it.

Seriously. There is no such thing as too many eyes on your résumé. You may have heard tips before – it should be modern, but not too trendy; thorough, but not too wordy – but content is king when it comes to showcasing your skills. For those fresh out of school, the ideal employment experience to list on a résumé is accomplishments from previous internships.

However, if your only work experience is in retail or food service, describe your responsibilities from each in industry relatable terms. Showcase the communications, collaboration, project management or other strengths you learned and could bring into the workplace. Employers understand that your professional experience may be limited, but want to know what skills you’ll be able to apply in support of business needs.

Oh, and don’t forget to proofread!

They submitted writing samples worth bragging about.

Writing is one of the top skills employers look for in our field. If they’re hiring, they need help immediately and want to know you will produce great work from day one with minimal training.

Even if you don’t have writing samples from a previous internship experience, it’s entirely acceptable to submit writing samples from your college coursework. We appreciate when internship applicants share a variety of writing samples that underline their ability to write with different voices for different mediums depending on the audience they’re trying to reach.

If you’re not sure which pieces to include in your portfolio, choose the top five you’re most proud of – especially if they have been published somewhere or received a good grade in class.

They showed initiative.

This guideline – so important, it’s built into Curley & Pynn’s Five Steps to Professional Success as “Anticipate … don’t wait to be asked” – applies to job hunting, skills development and internship training. The search for employment is not just about submitting a quality résumé and writing samples, but about following up and making meaningful connections.

Did you know that as many as 85 percent of job opportunities are staffed through networking? Your best chance of finding a job is by mixing at professional events, attending professional development seminars and seeking a mentor who already works in the field.

Being proactive is imperative to making a good, and lasting, impression. Any opportunity to demonstrate this soft skill can tip the scale in your favor.

They realized this was just the beginning.

Time for a reality check! Stepping across the stage at graduation is a significant accomplishment and you should be proud. However, keep in mind that earning your degree is just the beginning. You still have much to learn.

College courses prepare communications graduates for tactical work necessary in the profession. Can you write a press release? Can you draft a pitch? Can you manage a social media account? Check, check and check.

These lessons help you discover best practices for “what” you’re communicating and “how” to communicate with various publics. Only through hands-on experience and professional training will you truly understand “why.” In other words, professional internships like ours help you put theory into practice so you can fully understand the function and importance of public relations and marketing communications.

At Curley & Pynn, we strive to help student and graduate interns think strategically, so they understand not only the best approach for tactics, such as developing a news release, but why that news release is important to achieving a specific objective and how it relates to a big-picture goal for the organization.

This results-oriented, problem-solving experience is what will set you apart from other candidates when you’re ready to apply for jobs and why internship experience is a crucial step in the journey to full-time employment.

These are just a few top tips for landing a professional internship. For more about our internship program, visit www.thestrategicfirm.com/join-our-team/ or reach me at ehodgkins@thestrategicfirm.com.

Best of luck, grads! May your efforts be rewarded with the perfect career match.

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