Let’s Talk Internships

Internships

Let’s talk about APR internships…

Most of you know me as affiliate professor Peggy Howard, an instructor of public relations classes. You may not know, however, that I am also the coordinator for the internship program for the APR major. It’s the internship program that I would like to talk about. For some of you, the internship requirement may be a source of frustration or just a vast unknown.  Yet, scheduled at the right time in your education pathway, it will prove to be one of the most important classes of your academic career. Since understanding brings clarity, and usually acceptance, I have answered the Top Five most often asked questions about internships below.

How do I find an internship?

Laker Jobs is a good source for finding internship opportunities. Now is a good time to check for internships being offered this summer. Check back frequently. New opportunities are added regularly. Other sources are friends. Do you have a friend/acquaintance that has recently completed an internship? How did he or she find the internship? Is it an internship that might be of interest to you? Family is another good source of ideas. Family members may work for a company that is looking for an intern, or may have friends who know about an internship opportunity. Ask professors or your academic advisor. Do a Google search, and check out http://www.interninmichigan.com. Lastly, call a company where you would like to intern, and ask if they have an internship opportunity, or would like to. Many students have secured an internship opportunity by just asking for one.

How do I prepare for an internship?

Applying for an internship is the same as applying for a job. You need to have a resume and portfolio prepared for your job (internship) interview. Prior to the interview, develop goals you would like to achieve during your internship. What skills do you want to practice/hone? What work experiences are available with the internship? Discuss your goals/questions as a part of the interview process. There has been an increase in recent years of employers seeking interns to develop and/or manage their social media platforms. That’s good experience for students. However, there are other important skills to build in preparation for a career in public relations or advertising. Those include writing news releases and other communications tools, copywriting, design, planning, etc. The internship should provide you with a wide variety of experiences, allow you to develop portfolio items, and build the confidence you need for seeking a job in the career you choose following graduation.

Why did I have to complete two 300-level classes before applying for an internship for credit?

The primary purpose of an APR internship is for students to gain real-life work experience. If you haven’t completed skill-building classes offered at the 300 level, the internship experience will be diminished for you, as well as your employer. How will you be able to write a news release with skill and confidence if you haven’t completed the media relations writing class? Or write ad copy without first completing advertising copywriting?  There are two public relations classes (for those of you whose emphasis is public relations), and two advertising classes (for those of you whose emphasis is advertising) that are highly recommended for completion BEFORE registering for an internship for credit: CAP 321 – Media Relations Writing, and CAP 320 – PR Management and Cases. For advertising students, CAP 315 – Advertising Copywriting, and CAP 310 – Advertising Management and Cases.

What do I do to get approved for an internship for credit?

The first step is to secure the internship. Secondly, go to the School of Communications website – http://www.gvsu.edu/soc – and click on internships for students and review the information. Complete the Internship Agreement and submit it. You will be notified via email when your agreement has been approved. Keep in mind that there is no class to attend, just completing the internship is the class; however, you do need to register for the internship like you would any other class you are completing. Once your Internship Agreement has been approved, I will issue you a permit to register for the “class.” You must be approved, and register for the internship BEFORE completing the internship. Other questions? You can email me at howardp@gvsu.edu, or stop by my office during office hours.

Why does the APR major require an internship before graduation?

Once an internship has been completed, you and your employer complete on online evaluation regarding the internship. Students are also required to write a 1,000 word essay about their experience. There is a consistent theme in the hundreds of evaluations and essays I have read in recent years. Like, “this internship has prepared me for seeking a job after graduation. I am grateful that Grand Valley requires an internship,” and, “I wasn’t sure that I had chosen the right major until I completed the internship. Now I am anxious to graduate and start my career.” GVSU requires an internship because it is essential to your education and prepares you for a successful, fulfilling career.

Yes. Securing an internship can be a challenge, but consider it practice for searching for a job. Use it to stop procrastinating on developing a job-winning resume and portfolio. Look at it as an opportunity to practice your interview skills. Completing an internship is an important component of your APR major. Embrace it. Be enthusiastic. Make the most of it. It will be a decision that you won’t regret.


 

Post by: Peggy Howard, affiliate professor

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Peggy Howard is an affiliate professor in the School of Communications. She teaches public relations classes for the APR major, and serves as the APR internship coordinator. This is Professor Howard’s tenth academic year at GVSU. Prior to joining the GVSU faculty, she spent 20 plus years in health public relations and public relations firm work.
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