Slamming down the phone, jumping in the air – the internship was mine.
Desperate to get my foot in the PR door and move to the big city, I’ve been excitedly taking up every opportunity possible to give myself the work experience edge over my peers and internships are the golden ticket. Deciding early on that my heart lies in communications for the housing and third sectors, Plum Communications & PR matched me perfectly. With clients ranging from property development company, Summerfield, to Spectrum Housing Group, I knew my experience with housing associations would be an asset.
Excitedly telling people I was to be an intern brought mixed reactions. Will you even be paid? What an amazing opportunity! But what about the long hours? What’s the point? – “Aren’t internships basically slave labour?” joked a colleague. Was it true? Had I just agreed to sell my soul?
Googling ‘internships’ didn’t put my mind at ease. Headlines such as ‘Internships; Big Break or Cheap Labour?’ and ‘Generation Intern – is it worth it?’ pop up everywhere but, on the flip side, equally as many articles appeared celebrating the value of decent work experience, and the untold opportunities and open doors internships bring. Quote upon quote from CEOs and MDs state the value of a job candidate that’s had an internship vs one without. “Internships are a debut performance to your career,” screams one article. (I best make sure I impress at Plum then!)
It has to be said though, in some respects I’m not your usual intern. After finishing a foundation course at Leeds University way back in 2011, I’ve since had two years’ experience in communications roles so I’m far from being a new graduate. My new year’s resolution was to fine tune my CV and be proactive, gaining more PR experience in the sectors I wish to work in. Competition is fierce, and simply having the grades and a previously steady job role doesn’t make the cut. I’m not complaining about this, I have the drive, an unrivalled work ethic and I’m happy to pay my dues to make it. I also really enjoy leaning more skills from new colleagues, companies and managers.
Going from full time work to an internship is a gamble, but I think it would be much riskier to rest on my laurels and hope a job will somehow find me, rather than actively pursuing what I want to do. It would have been more of a gamble if this internship wasn’t paid. I wouldn’t have been able to afford to take this opportunity otherwise, and I’m glad that Plum are one of the seemingly few agencies who follow best practice put forward by the CIPR and offer paid internships.
My first week’s experience of Plum has been brilliant and really encouraging. Contrary to popular belief about internships, I haven’t been lumbered with doing admin or making the tea (David makes all the tea). The members of the Plum team are really involving; I’ve been given lots of work where my strengths lie (helping our non-profit clients and doing lots of social media), and my many questions are all answered, talked about and explained. Karen has let me shadow her meeting clients and my favourite thing so far is that the team always ask and value my opinion on things. I’m sure the first week at Plum is a sure sign of what’s to come, and my time here this summer will be extremely beneficial and rewarding. Internships are a great way to experience a career before embarking on it, experiencing more about the role than you can ever be taught in a classroom and gaining invaluable experience and advice from new colleagues.
This article was written by Antonia Cross, PR and Marketing Assistant at Plum Communications & PR. Previously working in a communications role for a homeless charity and a housing association, she has experience in fundraising, PR for non-profit organisations and managing social media and website content. Read more about Antonia.