By Talia Smith
It’s the PR major’s dream to snag a big-name internship over the summer, plop it on your resume in the fall and have a dream job nailed down by the time your graduate; it doesn’t always work out that way. Some of us spend the summer taking classes, traveling or working. There’s nothing wrong with that, and in fact, there are still plenty of ways to keep building upon your résumé and portfolio if interning does not fit into your summer plans. Here are some options to consider:
Create Your Own Blog
Writing consistently over the summer is a great way to practice discipline. If you can give yourself deadlines to meet, then not only will you improve your writing but you will end up with at least one solid piece to add to a portfolio. Employers like to hear that you write for pleasure because it’s an indication writing is more than a just requirement but it’s also something you are passionate about.
A few summers ago, I wrote a travel blog when I took a cross-country trip. I mentioned it in a cover letter which was later brought up in an interview. Mentioning my travel blog opened up a conversation which would not have otherwise been brought up in an interview, and the more conversational you can make an interview the better!
After creating a collection of samples from your blog, you can take your writing a step further and try freelance writing. There’s a bit more effort required for writing freelance, some trial, and error, but after all of the hard work you could end up with a published piece of writing that will hold weight in your portfolio.
First take a look at the writing opportunities offered on campus. There’s the Emerald, Spoon University, and Her Campus, to name a few. If you’re looking to make a little bit of cash, you could check out a freelance writing aggregator website which will post opportunities. If you have an idea for an article, you could approach a local publication and pitch them an idea. They might want you to write the story and often appreciate articles from a college student perspective.
Manage a Social Media Account
Do you have a family member with a small business? A friend who is an aspiring musician? Or are you a volunteer somewhere that is lacking an online presence? Offer to create or manage a social media account over the summer and see how many followers you can gain. Coordinating social media for someone will provide you with quantitative results to add to your resume and you can include the screen grabs in your portfolio. That’s a summer side hustle well spent!
Volunteer Design Skills
Do you have an eye for graphic design? There are plenty of nonprofits that could use your help designing flyers, brochures, posters, social media graphics and more. Whether you have access to Adobe InDesign or use the “freemium” design website, Canva, you can really make a difference to a local charity or fundraising event by offering your skills. At the end of the event, you’ll have a spread of pieces to add to your portfolio.
If an internship is not in the cards this summer, there are still plenty of opportunities to contribute to your portfolio and expand your resume. Each of these suggestions requires self-initiative which future employers will appreciate. While you’re hitting the books, traveling abroad or working at the pool this summer, see if you can arrange one of these side projects to keep adding to your repertoire of communication skills.
No public relations education would be complete without hearing about the word “portfolio” at least a million times. A strong portfolio and positive online presence are two important tools for PR students after graduation. But one more way important to catch the eye of potential employers is a blog.
I started my own blog, Coffee and Cardigans, in February 2012. Since then, I have learned important lessons in writing, editing, marketing, business tactics and brand management. I also have a work sample that I can share with employers. As a result, my blog presents a strong example of my interests, my expertise and my personality.
Managing a blog can demonstrate your writing skills, along with any design, photography and editing skills. It also builds upon them if you make blogging a habit. Updating your blog with fresh content on a regular basis also shows your ability to organize and dedicate time to a project.
Blogging is also a great way to expand and enrich your online presence. Add your name to a professional, polished and relevant blog that will be at the top of a Google search when employers search for your online presence.
Blogging can introduce you to the industry where you eventually want to work. Whether you want to focus on public relations in the tech industry or explore financial and investor relations, consider blogging in your area of interest! You can position yourself as an “expert” early, and the research will build your industry knowledge.
A blog also connects you to an online community. The blogosphere is a social place and it isn’t rare to strike up a few friendships while you are there. Networking online can be an effective tactic that can lead to connections in the real world as well. Once you find a niche, research other bloggers who write about your favorite topics.
As a PR student, managing my own blog has been an enormous learning opportunity. I honed my writing skills and voice, developed an editorial calendar, and learned to build and market a brand online. According to PR Daily, writing skills and strong work samples are a must in the post-grad job search. The easiest way for a PR student to earn those skills now? Get blogging.
Are you interested in becoming a guest blogger for the University of Oregon PRSSA chapter this term? We are looking for posts and articles on all things college, public relations, networking, social media and blogging, and more! Share your best stories, tips, interviews, and advice! Why should you consider becoming a guest blogger this school year? Let us tell you…
The ideal post is 300-500 words in length, free of spelling and grammar errors, and is of course, your own original work. Each post should include an applicable image or photograph. Articles and posts might be edited to best suit the UO PRSSA blog. Submit your post in Word Document or PDF format to PRSSA Public Relations Director/Blog Editor Callie Gisler at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Looking for other publishing opportunities this term? The national PRSSA organization offers several chances to publish your work. The PRSSA National blog Progressions tackles a range of PR, PRSSA, and professional topics, all written by fellow PRSSA members. Click here to learn more about submitting a blog post to Progressions. PRSSA National also produces FORUM, the official PRSSA newspaper, which is published three times a year. Click here to learn more about submitting a written piece to FORUM.
Questions or comments? An idea for an upcoming UO PRSSA blog post? Contact Callie Gisler at email@example.com. We would love to hear from you!