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What to Expect When Applying for a PR or Marketing Internship

Mar 10, 2017 1:56 PM / by Phil Carpenter

Our team interviews numerous candidates every year for internships with PAN. We’re principally looking for recent college grads who are interested in giving agency life a shot over the course of three months. At the end of this period, if the intern has done quality work and has proven to be a good cultural fit, the odds are good that we’ll offer that candidate a position to join us full-time. It’s a good arrangement for all – PAN gets a chance to see the recent grad in action, while she has the opportunity to get to know us up close and to determine whether we’re the right fit.

intern_interviews_PAN.jpgSource: pexels.com used under CC license.

When interviewing prospective interns, I’m often asked, “So what are you looking for in an intern?” Here are the top seven attributes that will help any candidate stand out:

Smarts/Achievement

Show us you’re sharp. How will we know? Did you earn academic honors in school? Did you pursue a tough major – or did you double major? No, we’re not interested in your SAT scores and we don’t care whether you went to a local state school or an elite private school, but we do want to see evidence that you’re a bright, driven person and that you made the most of your time in college.

Leadership

If you’re successful at PAN, over time you will be leading account teams and eventually, you’ll manage others who, in turn, lead teams. As a result, we’re interested in ways in which you’ve shown your leadership skills while in college. Have you led a school group, like a club or a Greek organization? Did you emerge as a leader in the part-time job you held while at school? Have you regularly served as a project lead in classes you’ve taken?  Show us how you’ve motivated and led others.

Grit

In Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, author Angela Duckworth examines the impact that this critical character attribute can have on life success. PAN loves grit. How do we sniff it out? Maybe you’re the first kid in your family to have attended college. Perhaps you’ve taken on some tough summer jobs (paving highways in the 100-degree heat of a California summer could be even more interesting to us than a comfortable internship at your local newspaper.) Maybe you took on financial aid – and are paying for those student loans yourself as you work your way through school. Got chutzpah? We want to talk to you!

Appetite for risk

Marketing and PR are not for the meek. We’re intrigued by candidates that have shown willingness to take risks in life. What experiences illustrate such bravery? Did you take classes or pursue extracurricular activities that took you outside your comfort zone? Did you study overseas, immersing yourself in a new language and culture? Did you transfer schools when you realized that your initial college experience wasn’t all you’d hoped for? If you’ve been courageous, then tell us how.

Writing skills

Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But it is distressing how many marketing people you’ll meet in your work life who are mediocre writers. At PAN, we can teach you to write a phenomenal press release, a pithy tweet or a concise blog post. But before you join us, your writing fundamentals must be strong. How do we find great writers? Sure, we’ll have you take a writing test. But we’re also looking to see if you majored in something that required you to write on a consistent basis to perfect those skills. Perhaps you focused on PR or Communications, but it’s just as likely that you majored in a subject like History, Political Sci, Art History or English. Our most successful interns have been those who were already strong writers before they ever came to PAN.

Curiosity

Marketing enterprise technology or a new healthcare technology product is different than promoting consumer based products. We operate in categories that take some work to understand. To be sure you have the chops to dig deeply into an area that may be new to you, we’re looking for evidence of intellectual curiosity. Did you take some unusual classes (e.g. abnormal psychology) just because they intrigued you? Did you double major in two significantly different fields (e.g. Marine Biology and Latin American Studies)? We love curious minds, so show us yours!

Public presence

In our world, you’ll spend a lot of time sharing your ideas with others as your career advances. You’ll make a case for your point of view in team meetings. You’ll pitch prospective clients. You’ll brief a CEO on a social media plan for her company. So, we’re looking for people who are “good in a room.” How will we know? Did you sing a cappella? Were you a theater geek? Did you work as a campus tour guide or as a host at a local restaurant? Any of these would signal to us that you’re comfortable in front of an audience. It’s not like we require an audition video … but if you have a YouTube clip to share with us, be bold and send it.

Some of PAN’s most successful team members started with us as interns. Now you know the things we look for as we evaluate prospective candidates, and if you think that PAN could be a good fit for you, then come talk to us!

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