If your future plans include doing something in public relations, you will definitely need some experience before starting your career. I wouldn’t say I’m an expert in landing internships (I’ve gone through my fair share of rejections), but I have a handful of experience on my back. Today, I’m sharing with you my tips and tricks on landing the internship.

Know what you’re looking for

It’s hard to articulate what you are looking for in an internship position when you haven’t had much experience to go off of. Think about how you work in groups and in a classroom setting. Do you prefer working individually or with a group of people? Do you tend to take the lead? Do you enjoy unpredictability or would you rather have set day to day tasks? Do you like large classes or small classes? Asking yourself these questions will help narrow down your search. For example, if you prefer working with groups, look for an internship that will allow that interaction. There are many internships that require group case studies or allow you to work with a PR team directly. Do your research on the type of program so you know what you’re getting yourself into. Mention your research and the reason you specifically chose this company during your interview.

Research, research, research

I can’t even express how important this step is. Before your interview, research the company, in and out. Make sure you know what the company values and take note of some clients and case studies they’ve done. I also like to take a quick look at the company’s social media accounts. What works for me is writing out, on an actual sheet of paper, the clients and projects that interest me the most. If I’m doing a phone interview, I’ll keep that paper with me so I can mention these things in the interview. If the interview is at the office, I’ll study the sheet so I know what I’m talking about. Knowing about the company will you give you an edge over other candidates and will show that you care enough to take the time to stay up to date with what they are doing.

Your experience

Most employers will have you talk about your past experience at the interview. This part of the interview is so crucial because it shows the employer what you are capable of. Before the interview, make a list of all your past internships or other experiences that are relevant to the position. For each one, write a short description of your main duties at the job and then write down what you learned and took away from each experience.

For example, my first actual public relations internship was with Stephanie Krol Public Relations. As the intern, my main duties consisted of research for clients, building media lists and attending events. From this internship, I learned how to do one of the most important things as a future client executive in the PR world: research. This is where I learned how to use Cision and how to organize the things that I discovered to make it super easy for the client to understand. I was also able to practice my networking and communication skills at many client events.

For this part of the interview, many people will just reiterate what is on their resume. Employers are looking for people who take advantage of their opportunities and turn them into learning experiences for future reference; they don’t just want to know what you did, they want to know what you learned and you will you apply that knowledge in a position with their company.

Interviews can be very intimidating. The trick is to be prepared for everything. Have a friend ask you common interview questions and practice slipping in things you’ve learned about the company, from your research, in your answers. Be confident in who you are and what you bring to the table. And, follow the three tips above to help you feel more comfortable and prepared during the interview.

Did I miss any important steps in getting ready for an interview? What do you do to help you feel more prepared? Share your thoughts below!

– Sheena Lakhani, Loyola PRSSA PR Chair

(originally posted on lakhanisheena)

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