Archive for the ‘Portfolio’ Category

A fellow Kent State journalism student, Marissa Ring, just completed an independent study this summer focusing on public relations internships, which are a requirement in our PR sequence. One result of her research was a list of FAQs that I found particularly helpful to PR interns at Kent State and elsewhere. She interviewed a number of interns in order to provide insightful answers to the questions, and I asked her for permission to post them on my blog to further all of your future internship hunts and experiences. Note: I left out a few questions/answers that were only relevant to Kent State students.

My internship coordinator at Kent, Michele Ewing, has also written on the subject from both the intern and supervisor perspectives. If you have  additional tips, please share! I would love to hear stories about good and bad internships from both the interns as well as their supervisors.

 Frequently Asked Questions for Public Relations Internships

Compiled by Marissa Ring, Kent State Journalism Student

  • What should I keep in mind during my internship?

    As you begin your internship, you may feel overwhelmed by projects and deadlines.  There are a few helpful hints to keep in mind. Remember that your internship is an extended interview process that will affect your future in the job market.  The professionals you come in contact with during your internship may be a good reference after graduation. This is especially important, as an increasing number of employers require on-the-job experience for potential hires. Also, if your employer is impressed, they may offer you a job. This is also a great time to be collecting samples for your portfolio so make all of your work count.

  • How can I make a good impression on my employers and succeed in a professional work environment?

    Show up on time everyday with a good attitude, ready to work.  Accept any projects that come your way.  Be a perfectionist, even on projects that do not seem like a big deal.  Ask questions and make sure you understand what your employer expects out of you.  Be persistent in everything you do and ask for coaching.

  • What kind of experience will an internship give me?

    Completing an internship is a good way to apply what you are learning in classes to the real world and practice being a professional.  For example, you will gain knowledge about dealing with reporters, conducting interviews and behaving in a professional setting.

  • How can I monitor my progress throughout my internship?

    Update your resume as you complete projects and tasks.  Keeping a blog or journal throughout the duration of your internship may prove useful to you personally and may be something to show potential employers in the future.

  • Should I be okay with running errands such as getting coffee during the majority of my internship?

    Although this may be okay initially or occasionally, you should make it clear that you want to work on projects that fit with the curriculum you are studying.  It is a requirement that at least 75 percent of the work you complete during your internship be work that you would do in a professional PR setting.  This may include tasks such as creating website content, writing, researching, etc.

  • Should I keep copies of all the projects I complete?

    No matter what the size of the project may be, make sure it is an example of your best work so that you can use it in your profile and future interviews.


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frustrated-girl.jpgThis was a stressful week at Kent State with what seemed like midterms underway, but the underlying complaint I heard from PR friends— that all the intense projects, hard work and sleepless nights will never prove directly useful in our careers— got me thinking.

I know it’s not that anyone thinks that what they’re learning will never come in handy… we wouldn’t be paying for four+ years of college if that were true. However, I think the cynicism comes into play when the only reason behind completing four major projects in one week appears to be a good grade. As I’ve had to tell myself before, the stress and hard work will pay off in the long run, but it’s nice to sometimes see immediate results.

I have had recent success in this area, and I think (hope) that this personal experience is worth sharing with other students fighting the desire to just call it and start the weekend early.

During my media relations class with Dr. Jeanette Drake last semester, our final project was a media kit equipped with news releases, fact sheets, feature stories, personality profiles and pictures. We were told to choose a client that could actually use the project. Many students dismissed this suggestion, a decision I believe resulted from a complete doubt that a client would actually use their work. It’s a classroom project. It’s just for a grade. It’s not real.

Not so!

I chose the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life of Kent State University as my client, killing two birds with one stone since I had volunteered to be the PR chair for the event this year anyway. I spend a gigantic portion of my life researching and interviewing the client and writing the materials, and to be honest, I avoided the dreaded ‘just let me turn this in and be done with it’ mindset because this wasn’t just a grade, this was going to be an experience.

dks-shirt-article.jpgI got up the guts to send one press release out, which resulted in front page coverage in the Akron Beacon Journal and a television spot on 19 Action News, and I just pitched another idea to The Daily Kent Stater, which got coverage, and the reporter even used information from my fact sheet. Score!

Hopefully this doesn’t come off as bragging, but as an example of how classroom projects can actually be useful in creating portfolio materials and gaining experience. Too many students make the mistake of thinking an internship is the only way to apply the classroom to the real world. That’s not the kind of thinking that makes PR such a fast-growing field.

In any case, the weekend is almost here. I’m planning on celebrating.

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I really don’t consider myself an ‘interview guru,’ but since I’ve had some experience, especially as of late, I thought I’d chime in with some dos and do nots. In my last post, I mentioned how to send out ainterview.gif killer application… in fact I handed you the phone with a call asking you to schedule an interview.

You didn’t think I’d leave you hanging, did you?
The advice that I’ve used myself on several occasions came from a session I attended at the 2006 PRSSA National Conference held in Salt Lake City last November. Jennifer Brown of Limitedbrands, Janeen Bullock of Connect Public Relations and Cathy Morley Foster of Fleishman-Hillard spoke on ‘How to Build a Career, Not Just Get a Job,’ and the career strategies they offered work just as well in internship settings.


  • Plan and prepare: If you did your research before sending out the application in the first place, you should know some background about the company, possibly the person interviewing you, and whether or not you are truly interested in the job. Use that information to help you come up with questions for your interviewer. (Yes, you are allowed to ask questions too. In most cases, it’s expected. At the very least, it’s a great way to impress your future employer with your interest in the company.)  
  • Dress to impress: Cliché phrase, and yet I’m still surprised when an interviewer comments about that last person he or she interviewed that wore jeans and flip-flops. We should all know better by now, but before you ever think of second-guessing yourself, leave the party hair, dangly earrings and casual attire at home. Someone once said, dress for the job you want, not the job you have. If you want to represent your clients in a professional manner, consider how you’re representing yourself. 
  • Create a portfolio and leave-behind: Even if you only have class projects or a few clips from print beat reporting or a short, unpaid internship, create a professional portfolio of your work. Pat Catan’s and other art supply stores offer portfolio cases in all shapes and sizes for different display options. Use your portfolio as a talking point to further demonstrate your skills and the results of your work.


While your portfolio is helpful in showing that you have some experience, your interviewer is not going to take the time to read every piece you created to assess your strengths and abilities. Set yourself apart from other interviewers by creating a simple folder of work to leave behind when you are finished with the interview. You can include different writing samples, an extra resume or even a list of references with names and contact information. This will ensure that the interviewer has samples of your work on hand, and it also shows that you are taking the interview seriously. (more…)

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