PR intern: 5 challenges I faced in my internship

Here are some things they don’t tell you in school or at the daylong employee orientation session.

As rewarding as your internship can be, there are challenges to be aware of when joining a public relations firm as an intern. Here are five:

1. Knowing your boundaries. By the time you approach your internship, you typically grasp many basic PR skills. So, what do you do when your boss spends two hours explaining something you spent an entire semester learning, or does something that’s been drummed into your head as being incorrect? When to speak up to your boss or stay silent is an important skill you’ll pick up during your internship.

2. Coming to terms with the lack of pay.
One day, as I was sitting at my desk working on an assignment, I realized I’m making $2.50 an hour to do something that in five months I’ll be doing for $35,000 a year. Unfortunately, this is something you cannot control. Just accept that you need the experience to make money later.

3. Maintaining a professional relationship with the opposite sex. The company where I’m interning recently hired an outside agency for a project. This agency has an employee who continually made romantic advances at me to the point where I felt uncomfortable. After reporting the issue to my boss and the agency, he was reprimanded. Then I was informed that I needed to monitor my behavior with male employees, as being too friendly might lead them to believe you have alternative motives.

4. Adjusting to different writing styles. One thing I’ve learned as an intern is that everyone has a different idea of how much detail should be put into a story and how it should be worded. At first, the adjustment wasn’t easy, but you will eventually gain the skills to quickly pick up the format your boss prefers.

5. Job hunting.
The thought of graduating and finally earning that college degree is thrilling—until you begin your job hunt. Entry-level positions are few and far between, and even most entry-level postings that I’ve seen require at least two years of experience. All that I can say is to get yourself out there as much as you can and cross your fingers. Good luck!

Christina Starr is a senior at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She will graduate in December with a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a concentration in public relations. Connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter via @c_c_starr. A version of this originally appeared on the blog PR at Sunrise.

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Topics: PR

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