Recently I was invited to speak at the Council of PR Firms annual Internfest. According to a survey that the Council conducted before the event, 43 percent of the interns in attendance recently graduated from college – a trend potentially attributed to the recession.
The session was great and I could certainly relate with the recent graduates in the room. That’s because when I graduated from Penn State University in 1999, I also decided to take a post-diploma internship. Or, should I say, my impatience and fear of not finding a job encouraged my decision to take a post-graduation internship. Two weeks after throwing my cap, I tapped into my network from a previous position and locked in a Summer internship with Jackson Jackson and Wagner in New Hampshire.
I was excited for the opportunity – but maybe more so because they were giving me lodging on a blueberry farm (I love blueberries), where one of the principals of the company lived, and a car for the Summer. In hindsight, this seems a bit peculiar. At the time, all I could think about was that I was gaining experience, networking and developing mentors. And if a full time PR job wasn’t going to happen immediately, this was the next best thing.
So in just two short months, I gathered experience for my resume, attended industry events – including a political event for Vice President Al Gore who at the time had just begun to campaign for a Presidential nomination -- and overall continued to grow as a young adult.
Finally, after many emails through Monster.com and HotJobs.com – not to mention the hard copy resume mailings to prospective employers who posted jobs in the New York Times – I got a call for an in person interview at a public relations agency in New Jersey. This led to a whole new adventure in my first public relations job.
Here at CooperKatz, we work hard to make sure that our interns get a rich experience and lots of insights into the world of public relations. And we have been known to hire some of our interns as well. In fact, we recently welcomed one of this year’s interns, Leslie Stahl, to our team full-time as an Account Coordinator and are excited to have her on board!
I often like to go back to my alma mater, Penn State, and speak with current students about public relations. And I always talk about my post-graduation internship. If I could go back in time, I wouldn’t change one step of my early career, as it gave me the experience and confidence to keep going. The lesson here is to keep your eyes – and your mind – open and don’t discount an opportunity that isn’t exactly the path you thought you would take right after college.
(Image Source: © Palomar College)