“Knowledge is not enough; Experience is essential”

Coming to Leeds to study for my Master’s degree within PR and Strategic Communication, I was satisfied with the extra student activities I had done when studying for my undergraduate degree. However, I quickly realised that the activities weren’t necessarily enough for actually getting a job. Speaking with my peers, their focus on getting credit for as many things as possible and not to mention the importance of doing – not just one, but several internships made me realise that I had entered a different world of expectations.

This blog post will be about getting an internship to become prepared for a career within the world of Public Relation and Communications. It will focus on tips given by a few PR and Communication professionals from different Yorkshire agencies.

Experience is everything

I recently came across a blogposton ratemyplacements.co.uk where the first line made a blunt impression on me: “For many employers, knowledge is not enough; Experience is essential.” I was very surprised because it’s not given that everyone gets a chance to do an internship or get job experience before finishing their degree. Not to mention that doing an internship back home in Norway was something not often spoken or thought of.

However, I must say that one of the reasons I chose to study at Leeds Beckett University was the ability to do an internship. My thought behind this was to have an advantage when competing against others for the same job. I came up with this plan because I was getting stressed when reading sentences such as “3-5 years experience”, or “at least5 years experience” when reading job listings. I knew that if I did an internship, I would at least have some experience to show for when applying for future jobs.

Writing the best cover letter

I thought that getting an internship was easy, but apparently, I was lucky because I’ve spoken to several others who haven’t even had a reply on their internship applications. Reading an article posted by BBC News, getting an internship is getting more difficult than ever, especially within IT, marketing and business. The three sectors are experiencing at least 100 applicants for one internship, one application more fierce than the other. I think this is sad since experience is supposed to be the alfa and omega when acquiring a job.

Last semester, Communication experts from Acceleris, FinnPR, Ilk Agency and Leeds City Council visited us to talk about how to write a cover letter for an internship and what they expected from an intern working for them, which I thought was useful when applying for my internship. Here is a list of their recommendations:

When writing a cover letter

  • Highlight relevant modules.
  • Relatable skills (blog, social media, etc.).
  • Examples on how youcan help the organisation.
  • Do research on the organisation and pick out one or two examples you really liked.
  • Have you volunteered to do anything? Write about it.
  • Important skills from previous work.

At the interview

  • Do research on the organisation before the interview.
  • Get familiarized with their recent campaigns.
  • Keep up to date on what is going on the PR atmosphere.
  • Show your portfolio.
  • Don’t be bullied into thinking you don’t know anything, be frank and say that you. “don’t know this, but my strength is within…”
  • Don’t lie.

Being an intern

  • Be proactive, don’t sit and wait to be given tasks.
  • Contribute where you can.
  • Make an effort to get to know your workmates.
  • Attend social activities.
  • Don’t be afraid of showing your personality.
  • Ask questions – you are not expected to be an expert.

Looking at these recommendations, I think that the following steps can make an equal difference when applying for internships as well as a regular job.

Not that usual in Norway – but equally important

When writing this post, I decided to ask my friend, Linn (who has also studied abroad and was on a job hunt a year ago), what she thought about the job-hunt-situation back home in Norway. Linn agreed that doing different internships in Norway was not as big as doing internships in the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe. However, she was adamant that having some kind of work experience was important, including an internship. Linn was on a job-hunt for a few weeks and considers herself lucky she got a job as quickly as she did. Moreover, Linn also said that she got a job because of her practical experience attained at University, which she attached to her application when applying for jobs.

There’s obviously a difference between Norway and the United Kingdom when it comes to the importance of internships, however, it’s equally important to have some sort of experience when applying for a job. I’ve come where I am today by being persistent and making the right choices for me, which is something I’ll continue when applying for jobs – and hopefully be successful.

 

– Helen –

 

 

 

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