The best way to get a head start in PR? Jump into the deep end with an internship

It’s been slightly more than a year since I first joined FleishmanHillard as a graduate intern in the week of my actual graduation ceremony itself, and it has been (and still is!) an eye-opening experience into the world of public relations.

Having joined on a whim to intern directly under the global crisis lead, I initially had no idea what to expect and what I should be taking away from the internship. After completing the six months stint, I can share that there are really only two key points to consider before taking on any internship: what is your Motivation and Expectation – or ME for short.

An internship is not indentured servitude. Six months is a significant investment of time to make when there are full-time positions available elsewhere, and knowing what drives you and what you should be getting at the end of it is a crucial point to consider when we are starting our careers.

So what’s in it for me?

Having a vague idea of a career in communications coupled with no inkling of which industry to ply my trade in meant that an agency setting is perfect. What I love about working in a global agency is the exposure to a variety of clients, and experiencing the ins-and-outs of being part of vastly different local, regional and global accounts.

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During my internship, I had the chance to work on not just crisis work, but also for corporate clients in property and human resources, finance and healthcare, not to mention the variety of one-off projects for other clients.  No two days are ever alike, and dynamism of each day is what is so exciting about working here.

Every account has its own set of challenges and the need to be able to switch on the fly – from intensive research towards a press release or byline for one client at one moment to engaging with media and share exciting developments the next to jumping in to help out with a crisis situation after – means that there really is never a dull day here.

Having the chance to be exposed to a broad spectrum of potential industries to do communications in and finding out which interests you is one thing, but what I really treasured was the breadth of knowledge that I was able to accrue. While most of us might eventually develop deep industry-specific expertise, the exposure and experience to different sectors is what will set us apart, especially when we can bring fresh perspectives to the table.

What can you expect?

On top of being able to work on a variety of accounts, the supportive environment while working for those accounts was the decisive factor for me when considering whether to stay with FleishmanHillard. Everyone is so generous with sharing their knowledge and wisdom, and there is so much that can be gleaned from the collective rich experiences in the communications field.

I have never once felt intimidated approaching my team leads or even the senior leadership for advice or their perspectives, while my opinions were respected and considered equally as well. There was never a sense that a certain piece of work is too challenging for interns to try, and I am deeply appreciative for the trust and confidence my account leads have in me.

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Since the majority of the office started out as interns, there is an innate understanding of the uncertainties and difficulties we face, best demonstrated by the patience on the part of everyone. Team leads and account members always take the time to provide valuable feedback as well.

FleishmanHillard as a whole also demonstrates its commitment to ensure the professional development of all staff, with regular trainings by the office tailored for junior level employees, usually via region-wide conference sessions led by the resident gurus of each office.

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At the end of the day

So what is your Motivation and Expectation? If you are driven by challenges and the prospects of fast-paced workdays and looking for a crash course in the communications industry, an agency is a perfect place to start out in. And if you are looking for exposure and experience on top of that, a global agency like FleishmanHillard would be one of the few places that can offer you that as well!

 

– By Patson Goh

 

Patson joined FleishmanHillard as a graduate intern in 2015, and is now an Account Executive with the Corporate, Finance and Industrial team. He also supports an enterprise technology account, various healthcare projects and the crisis practice.