Elizabeth Christian Public Relations has had an extensive intern program since the company’s inception in 1995. For years, we had as many as four interns each semester. Several years ago, we modified our program and started offering one paid internship each semester.
As we all know, a proper internship program is a win/win for the student and the company. In addition to learning about your company, the student can learn a great deal about your profession and the industry. Interns may or may not be eligible to receive school credit, but they can always use their internship on their resume as relevant job experience.
Internships help fine-tune career interests. We have former interns who have segued into roles as PR practitioners working for other PR agencies, for-profit businesses, government entities and nonprofit organizations. Some of our interns have even gone on to law school. ECPR currently has a few former interns on staff including Kristin Marcum, Lia Pette, Whitney Herrick and Gabby Salinas.
What defines a proper internship?
While a student must have some relevant education, we make sure to offer our interns hands-on, practical training. They need to have ample access to staff members for questions or concerns. We give interns multiple opportunities to observe and assist (when appropriate) our staff members in various aspects of our work including press conferences, events and media interviews. All of our interns are also assigned a staff mentor to help guide them through the process and offer valuable advice.
How do you find a good intern?
We post internship positions on area-wide college campus websites, specifically in the College of Communications and even PR departments (if they have one). We also post on Craigslist and the PRSSA website. We use social media to help spread the word and generate interest.
Paid internships help attract quality applicants. I marvel at how many great, unpaid interns we have had over the years. However, the number of qualified (education and experience) candidates has increased tremendously with a paid internship offering. Paid internships are more competitive and attractive to students who need an internship as well as a paycheck.
If you do offer an unpaid internship, be sure you meet the legal criteria. More information can be found at: https://www.thebalance.com/new-department-of-labor-guidelines-on-internships-1986582.
More information on the ECPR internship program can be found on our careers page at: http://www.ecprtexas.com/careers. I’m happy to report that we have interns booked through Spring 2015.
A proper internship can be a valuable and rewarding experience for both the student and the employer!
Senior Vice President, Business Affairs
Elizabeth Christian Public Relations