Thursday, July 22, 2010
Guest Blog: Lessons Learned as a PR Intern
I asked Elmira Karimzadeh, our intern at the Orange County Transportation Authority and recent graduate of Cal State Fullerton, to share her tips with other interns and their employees.
Elmira is an extraordinary professional -- mature and experienced beyond her years.
She is an active participant of our nationally recognized social media team and spoke on a Gov 2.0 panel with other regional and national experts on how to increase citizen engagement.
Check out this slideshow of her work with service dogs, her visit to Bravo's the Real Housewives of County and this audio interview interupted by reality show star Jeana Keough after an exclusive runway show with pop singer Livi Franc.
After hearing this audio interview with Elmira and checking out her six tips for a successful internship, please let us know what you think and share your own advice.
By Elmira Karimzadeh
My nearly two years at OCTA have confirmed my place in public relations.
Although school is valuable and necessary, hands-on experience is priceless. I have evolved from an intimidated third-year PR student to a confident young professional looking forward to my career in communications.
This rewarding journey has been challenging, thrilling and filled with lessons. These are my top six tips to maximize your internship.
1. Every successful writer has a great editor
When your boss critiques your writing, which is inevitable and eye-opening, pay attention. If you are attentive and ask the proper questions, the blood bath that has resulted from the overuse of red ink will mean more than just a bruised ego.
Learn from your mistakes, and be mindful of them with your next writing assignment.
2. Vary your writing -- don’t lose your creative edge
As a public relations professional, you’re a writer. At OCTA, I write a biweekly newsletter, press releases, facts sheets and advertorials, but I write on my off-time too.
Don’t allow your writing to become mechanical. A former professor once advised me not to limit myself to certain writing styles. Practice all writing styles- even those that are not relevant to your line of work.
I will never have to write a poem in my professional life, but that doesn’t stop me from doing so in my personal life.
3. Be proactive
A willingness to do extra work shows enthusiasm and positions you as a “go-getter.” When you have down-time at your internship, ask your supervisor or others in your department if there’s an assignment they need help with.
By asking for more work you showcase your abilities and kind gestures, of any caliber, will not be forgotten.
Be informed on current events. Know the trending topics in public relations. Articles in main-stream and trade publications are filled with helpful advice.
Case studies are a useful way to learn from the mistake of others. Being well-versed isn’t just beneficial to you, but it makes for useful small talk with other professionals. It’s a networking icebreaker.
Now that you’re caught-up on your morning read, put it to good use by participating in industry networking events.
Networking sessions are useful even if you’re not looking for an employment opportunity. It’s always good to meet other professionals who are contributing to public relations.
6. Continue learning
This next tip applies to life and public relations. Never close-off your mind to learning.
I’m a recent graduate and have much to learn about public relations, but I hope when I’m an experienced veteran – I’ll still be eager to learn about my field.