The CIPR Internship and Work Placement toolkit

With only eight weeks left at university, my hunt for a job in PR is fully underway. In the past three years, the need for graduates to gain experience in their chosen field has dramatically increased, but with this has come a number of issues.

The problems surrounding unpaid internships and work placements have caused major controversy during the past year, with Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg both supporting the move to fairer access to internships in a social mobility strategy.

Yesterday, as a way of tackling these issues, the CIPR launched an official guidance toolkit. Defining the various types of placements, setting out what both employer and student should expect from the time and with guidance on areas like pay and expenses, the document hopes to tackle some of these issues. The aim of the document is to support organisations in creating internships and work placements that will allow those wishing to start a career in PR to gain as much practical experience as possible.

During the past three years, I have been fortunate enough to gain a variety of practical experience in PR, with time spent both in-house and agency. Both placements, although unpaid, have been successful with no negative issues arising. However, I know from speaking to others on my course that this is not always the case.

Leaving university with no job to go to is a scary prospect to be faced with. Having the opportunity to gain practical experience during a six-week placement after graduating can give many students a helping hand. However, when faced with travel costs of £40 per week, little or no structured training from the organisation and duties above and beyond student capabilities can the placement really give students the vital experience needed, or does it only allow students with parental funding to flourish?

Hopefully, the document set out by the CIPR will help to diminish the chances of this happening and lead to a fairer and more  productive internship system.

I understand that, as a student, my perspective on work experience will be very different to people currently working in the industry and I would be interested in hearing what others think. To view the document in full, click here.

The real world of PR

This week was my chance to see exactly what the real PR world was like and it couldn’t have been any different to what I imagined!

On Monday alone I wrote and sent out a media invite, an article for the organisation’s website and two news releases for local media outlets and that was all before 1pm! In the afternoon I attended a local publicity event where I helped in raising the profile of the organisation by handing out leaflets and talking to passers by. By the time Thursday came round I was writing articles for the next match day programme and helping to organise a huge media event, planning who was going to be where and what was happening when! Never in my life have I had such a varied few days!

Those who know me know just how much of a routine person I am. Every week I do the same things at the same time, on a Thursday afternoon I know I’ll be in a PR seminar, on a Friday morning I know I’ll be in social media and on a Saturday I know I’ll be at work. Routine is what keeps me going, I am very much an organised person who thrives on working to a time scale, so to experience such a varied week and enjoy it is a great feeling!

In my opinion a work placement is one of the best things an under-graduate can do to gain some first hand experience of the career they hope to move in to. Not only does it give you a great insight into the actual industry, it also helps to put into context the skills you’ve learnt whilst at university, some of which you think are irrelevant now but when you get into a job will become an important everyday skill!

PR is nothing like I thought it would be, there’s definitely more to it than just writing a press release! There’s been many a time over the past 18 months when I’ve wondered if PR is the right career path for me, after this week I definitely know its where I want to be!

Thank you to Newcastle United Foundation for giving me the chance to experience what PR is really like and I look forward to working with them again over the summer for some more invaluable experience.