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Unfair Advantage

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August 2014 Articles:

Alumni Advantage is a newsletter for current students written by members of the National Professional Advisory Board and their colleagues. It provides insider advice, insight and inspiration so that when our graduates enter the real world, they are ready to rock it.

Don't Wait to Stand Out: 3 Things to Do Now to Land an Internship
by Christi Chesner, photo courtesy Christi Chesner
Christi Chesner

Christi Chesner

You know the drill. To land that full-time job in communication after graduation, internship experience is a MUST. But, how do you get your foot in the door while competing against students who already have full resumes? It may be easier than you think.

Here are a few things you can start doing this semester to make yourself stand out when it comes time to apply for your first internship or job.

  1. Be a Communicator for Your Organization
    Whether you're involved in a student organization or you have a part-time job at Chimy's, chances are you're connected to a group or company that would gladly accept your help with its website, social media, newsletter, video, etc. Volunteer to assist with communication and keep track of everything you do, particularly the results and impact of your efforts.
  2. Take Every Assignment Seriously
    When you have a lot on your plate, it's easy to forget that each project on the syllabus is about more than just a grade. A news release or ad worthy of a B in the classroom might not make it past your supervisor's desk without a few rounds of revisions in the real world. To make the most of every assignment, look beyond the textbook for real-world examples to guide the quality of your work.
  3. Build and Manage Your Own Brand
    One of the best ways to gain experience and position yourself as a great internship candidate is to take the time to work on your personal brand. You already know not to post things your parents wouldn't want to see on the Internet, but are you effectively using and managing your online presence to make yourself a more appealing internship candidate? Set up an online portfolio, use LinkedIn to start building your network, and leverage social media to follow and engage with professionals in your field. Prospective employers WILL Google you, and we'd much rather see your latest projects and interests than “no results.”

Whatever you do, don't get discouraged. Media and communication is one of very few career fields in which you can truly create your own opportunities to gain real-world experience as a student. Take advantage of it, and your internship application will definitely stand out among the rest.

Christi Chesner lives in Dallas and serves as director of account service for Lewis Public Relations, where she has worked since she graduated from Texas Tech in 2007. As a student, she interned at KETK-TV in Tyler, Texas, and Rx Mosaic Health, a pharmaceutical PR firm in New York City. Christi is the secretary of the Dallas chapter of the Public Relations Society of America and currently is pursuing her Accreditation in Public Relations. In her spare time, she enjoys running around White Rock Lake, traveling and sampling craft beers.