By: Rhiannon Breheny (Communications Executive)
5 highly accomplished University of Texas upperclassmen spoke during a Texas Public Relations Student Society of America internship panel to a group of 67 students on October 26, 2023. The panel included Texas PRSSA members Grace Einterz, and Melanie MacDonald and executive board members Juliana Stanford (Vice President), Rory Schoech (Special Events Executive), and Samia Tasnim (Mentorship).
The five individuals expanded on their intern experience in the PR industry and gave their best suggestions for members to land their dream internships. Below are the top 10 takeaways from the panel:
Utilize Moody resources: Several members found their internships through the Moody Career Fair and Handshake.
Have an elevator pitch and printed resume ready at the career fair. Walk in ready to sell yourself and never underestimate the power of a handshake and eye contact, says Stanford.
Tasnim emphasizes the benefit of Handshake, she has found the majority of her roles through this interface.
Be persistent. It’s easy to give up after not getting an interview or the job, but if you’re passionate about a company don’t give up and continue showing them you’re interested. Einterz gave examples of her persistence, as a Masters student in Advertising with interest in Public Relations. She is a strong advocate for following up and reaching out.
Do your homework. Always come to interviews prepared with as much information as possible about the company you’re applying to. For example: who their clients are, what their values are, why you want to work there, etc. Tasnim and MacDonald shared anecdotes and emphasize heavy research before an interview.
Be professionally aggressive. Bet you’ve never heard those two words used together. When doing pre-interview research about the company it’s also a good idea to research the people interviewing you, if possible. In interviews, don’t be afraid to mention you saw they also studied ___ and were involved with ___. Ask them about specific experiences or how their experience in ____ leveraged their position at ______.
Look over buzzwords on the application. A helpful tip students learned during this panel is to paste the application job description into a word cloud generator and tailor your resume using the most used words within the application, Schoech suggests.
Show them your value. During an interview, it’s your job to help them envision what it would be like to work with you. Show them what value you would bring to their company, what it would be like to have you in the office, etc.
Stanford always asks her interviewer what they are looking for in their ideal candidate and after the answer, she replies back with how she would fit these parameters.
Write a thank you note. Always. Writing a thank you note, whether handwritten or via email, can go a long way post-interview. Be sure to thank them for their time and maybe even highlight something valuable you took away from the conversation.
Internships are learning experiences. You aren’t supposed to know everything. Do not forget you’re there to learn and expand your professional toolbox, so don’t be afraid to ask questions if you’re unsure about a task, MacDonald asserts.
Consider an internship a long term interview. Now that you have stepped your foot through the door - you are not done. The duration of the internship gives not only the company a chance to see if they would bring you on full time but you the chance to see if this structure of organization would be one that you would work for. Use this opportunity to show your best elements while also uncovering the details of the workforce you have entered.
Be yourself. All of the panelists would agree that interviews can be STRESSFUL, but they want to meet the real you. You can also view this as an opportunity to identify whether or not you would like to work for this company as well.
About the panelists:
Grace Einterz is a second-year Master's of Advertising student focusing on PR and brand strategy. Currently interning at ECPR Texas and this past summer, interned with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas. After graduation, Grace’s goal is to pursue a career in sports and entertainment with a long-term goal of becoming a publicist.
Melanie MacDonald is a junior pursuing a bachelor's in public relations with a minor in business. She was a marketing intern at Habitat for Humanity of Williamson County and is interested in pursuing a career within the marketing or entertainment sector.
Juliana Stanford is a junior public relations major. She started as an intern for Texas Lifestyle Magazine and is now a full-time editorial contributor, started as an intern for Quispicanchi Project in Peru (a nonprofit) and is now the co-founder and coordinator of the Untold Stories of Companionship blog. She just wrapped up an internship in the communications and investor relations department of Texas Instruments and focused on Fortune 500 events and TI's external presence. Now, Stanford is working as a commercial real estate brokerage intern with Franklin St. as they launch their Austin branch. She aspires to live and work internationally for a company with a strong foreign presence and core values.
Rory Schoech is a junior public relations major pursuing a minor in entrepreneurship. She is currently the social media manager for Safe Horns, a non-profit promoting safety on and around the UT campus. She recently completed an internship as a Social Media and Publicity Intern for Fons PR, an entertainment PR firm, during which she worked for SXSW. Long-term, she has an interest in working in entertainment, fashion, and lifestyle.
Samia Tansim is a junior pursuing a double major in public relations and Arabic, as well as a Bridging Disciplines Certificate in Digital Arts and Media. Currently working as a Marketing Intern for HDR and a Communications Assistant in the Texas Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering department. She aspires to work in the film/entertainment industry and has a deep interest in exploring the cross-section between engineering, communications, and culturally inclusive outreach.