Expectations vs. Reality: What an Internship in PR is Really Like

From the beginning, I knew my internship with Curator was far from what I expected. I didn’t spend my days running errands around the streets of Seattle or brewing endless pots of coffee. Spending my summer with Curator made waking up at 7 a.m. well worth my time. I was more than an intern, I was part of a creative and collaborative team.

As I say goodbye to Curator, I want to break down my initial expectations for my first PR internship and compare them to what I actually experienced. Hopefully, it'll encourage you to intern for a PR agency and, if you happen to live in the Seattle area, intern for Curator. I promise you'll gain a wealth of knowledge you may not get elsewhere!

Expectation: I'll be spending each day doing the same “busy-work.”

Reality: While I did spend time every day on simple tasks like tracking media coverage, I spent the bulk of my days tackling new projects and tasks that directly impacted and benefited our clients. The PR industry is ever-changing and that was reflected in my internship because no two days were the same. I had to be ready to embrace constant change and willing to take on high-level projects I had no prior experience doing. As a result, I was able to do so much more and touch numerous client accounts. I wrote press releases and media alerts, researched influencers, crafted social media recommendations and created editorial calendars--and I'm only scratching the surface here. I could list many more projects.

Expectation: My co-workers will be too busy to give feedback or answer my questions.

Reality: Just because you're an intern, doesn't mean you aren't important to the team or have a voice in the room. The office is incredibly collaborative. Everyone is constantly communicating and working with one another to get deliverables out the door, while investing time in each other's career growth--including mine. With every project or task I was given, I was able to openly ask questions and my co-workers happily answered. With every project I completed, I was given feedback and constructive criticism, which helped me better understand my weaknesses and how to turn them into strengths.

Keep in mind, the PR industry is extremely detail-oriented, so having a group of individuals willing to share recommendations and feedback on work is incredibly important and the best way to improve your skills. 

Expectation: I will be spending the entire day writing press releases.

Reality: While the PR industry is writing-heavy, I wasn't solely writing media materials. Now, don't get me wrong. I wrote my fair share of press releases and media alerts, but I spent the majority of my time completing other writing assignments. From crafting calendar listings to editorial calendars, I touched so many different projects, which taught me how to write professionally, craft creative content and change my voice to best reflect the client I'm writing for and better connect with the intended audience.

I’m so incredibly grateful to have spent my first internship with Curator. I've never been surrounded by a harder working group of individuals. At the end of the day, I'm glad this internship didn't meet my expectations because I wouldn't have gained the knowledge, experience or skills I'm now taking back with me to San Diego. I'm happy that I'm able to walk away with more real-world PR experience than I could have ever imagined. Thank you, Curator!