Landing A PR Internship
While searching for an internship, I was intrigued by Matter’s witty, active and engaging digital presence. I explored the site, eventually finding Maria, a Matter Vice President stationed at Matter’s Boulder (BoCo) office. With nothing to lose but a little time and dignity, I sent her an email proposing an informational chat about Matter and the greater PR industry. Fortunately, Maria was receptive to the idea of a conversation.
I spent the week leading up to our call studying the Matter website. Highlights included reading Portland-office blogs and watching Ellen and Michelle Obama deliver a massive plug for CVS. By the time the phone call came around, I was well-versed in Matter buzzwords and prepared a short-list of questions. Maria gave me great perspective and advice while I asked my strategic questions. I concluded the call with a request for further introductions in the industry, and a promise to stay in touch.
Two months later, Maria invited me to apply to an internship opportunity that opened in the Matter BoCo office. She remembered my persistence and personality from our previous interactions which helped me land the job. My internship with Matter has been an incredible work experience – from the people and company culture to the interesting clients and work we do for them. I’ve already learned a great deal, starting with the lessons I encountered before I even walked in the door.
Five Important Lessons
You are your resume (and cover letter, and application, and…)
As a student, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of your first experience in the professional world. Between drafting the perfect cover letter to polishing your ideal resume, many students forget they are the most important part of their application. When I went to the interview, I strived to appear just as polished as my resume and even-more well versed than my cover letter. While it’s important to accurately describe your abilities and skills to employers on paper, your personal positioning doesn’t end there.
Put a face to the name.
This year I discovered a rare privilege and valuable strategic tactic: the informational interview. As an eager student, I reached out to as many people as I could – seeking practical advice and mentorship in the form of a semi-causal conversation. Positioning oneself as an earnest, curious student or aspiring professional is a sure-fire way to gain the attention of a potential employer, or perhaps someone who can make valuable introductions to additional industry folk. This is a great way to get to know potential mentors and gives you a leg-up when you decide to throw your hat in the ring.
Asking the right questions.
You’ve spent hours studying the company website, analyzing and synthesizing everything from the creative reels to client case studies. The time arrives: You sit down for your final interview and your hopefully soon-to-be-employer hands you the 50-question potential employee written exam. Get an A+ and congrats! You’re a Matter Intern.
In reality, there’s no test. Shocking I know, but potential employers like Matter prefer to sit you down and get to know who you really are. You’ll be vetted for confidence in ability, skill and your largest asset within the communications industry: your personality. So, how can you best strut your stuff and show off that hard-earned due diligence? Use your research to ask strategic questions. Show the person across the table that you’ve done more than just scratch the surface of what’s out there on their company. They’ll be impressed, and when they’re impressed, you’re more likely to be hired.
Persistence: gentle yet firm.
Persist and you shall prevail. I’m not advising you to harass your potential employer via email, but a ‘gentle stalking’ can be considered brilliant when it comes to following-up on professional communique. Craft a thoughtful thank you an hour or two after the meeting. Write a follow-up at the end of the week. Still no response? Wait three more days, and fire again. Suffering dignity? You’re too young for that! Too prideful? You must not want this bad enough. Aim to strike the happy medium between respect for your recipient and aggressiveness in achieving your goal; your potential employer will see gold.
Attitude is everything!
Here’s a line from my favorite poem, “Attitude” by Charles Swindoll: “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.”
Swindoll points to the fact that while many things in life are out of our control, how we react and adjust our own person will determine how far we go. When you start to eye potential internships, attitude is everything. Take pride in yourself; in the documents in your portfolio; in the resume and cover letter you meticulously drafted. Be prepared to do it again. And again. And again. Use sheer will to turn your goal into reality, and never fear failure. Personally, I’ve learned that the regret of failure is nothing when compared to the regret of never having tried at all. I find that even when I fail, I’ve learned enough to make that failure worth it.
These five lessons are the ones that stuck with me most after reflecting on my personal internship journey. As of June, I will be going on three months as a Matter PR intern – a position in which I have yet to stop learning, experiencing, connecting and growing. Ready to begin your journey? Check out our careers page.