All That You Must Know While Doing an Internship

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Elsewhere in a Career Directory, you'll find resources to supplement your career counselor's advice. Here are some comments from those who've been there seniors or graduates who've completed recent internships and one experienced academic's perspectives. Then, we'll briefly profile Ketchum Public Relations' internship program:

Lisa Faust, senior, California State University/Chico; intern, Ketchum Public Relations "My internship has given me some real hands on experience, an understanding of agency public relations, the opportunity to be a part of some great projects and ultimately, a confidence in my abilities and potential. I was exposed to a wide variety of accounts and their respective needs.

Internships at Ketchum

An interesting article in the March 5,1990 New York Times cited a Harvard University study concluding that college students "do their best in courses that include frequent checkpoints, like quizzes, tests and oral exams...and at least some studying in small groups than in long solitary hours at a library."

Much of Ketchum's internship program echoes these principles. A few years ago, Ketchum launched a new, more formalized internship program that includes carefully structured weekly and mid term evaluations, informal study group meetings, a final "exam" project, and periodic "Breakfast Club" meetings with senior officers.

Interns are assigned to work with specific account executives on weekly assignments based on ongoing priorities, such as: media list development; writing press releases, brochures, or pitch letters; budget management; and coordination of targeted mailings. They'll be asked for weekly written reports evaluating the work and what they've learned.

This disciplined approach should enhance the learning process. At Ketchum, we see at least two additional benefits to a more structured intern program:
  • As stated earlier, we expect the demand for good public relations professionals to increase in the '90s, even as the supply of potentially qualified young people entering the marketplace decreases. With this in mind, it will become even more necessary to identify the best qualified people early in their careers.

  • By assigning clear cut supervision and development of interns to specific account executives, we'll also identify those AEs with management potential.
 These are the perspectives of one major public relations agency on what you can expect from an internship. Time frames and environments vary, of course. Major corporations offer challenging internships which may expose you to the day to day activities of senior communications officers who very often work directly for the company's chief executives. Nonprofit internships offer varied assignments with rewarding societal benefits.

No Guarantees Either Way

That's a pretty strong signal. But keep in mind that having an internship does not guarantee a successful career. Also understand that being rejected for an internship does not stain your record in any way. The internship selection process is extremely competitive. Ketchum alone examines close to 300 excellent resumes a year, directed to our nine offices nationally, from 30 top ranked colleges and universities. We can accept, on average, only 20 for each eight week summer term.

In summing up the whole career prospect picture, however, it must be pointed out that choosing routes other than internships to obtain working experience can also be very effective and have been for many of today's successful practitioners. Becoming an active member in such organizations as the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) or Women in Communications can also be of great professional benefit.

Within this Career Directory's pages there is a wealth of advice for all who are committed to a communications career. But the word on internships can be put very succinctly: Go for it RAYMOND KOTCHER is president and chief operating officer of Ketchum Public Relations. His primary responsibility is the firm's nine domestic offices in addition to the research, public affairs, creative, and financial functions. Working with the agency's chairman, David Drobis, Ray also helps set goals, strategies, and policies for Ketchum Public Relations worldwide.

Ray received his bachelor of arts in English from the State University of New York and master of science in public relations from Boston University's College of Communication. Following the completion of his graduate studies, he worked for Burson Marsteller before joining the Brouillard Division of J. Walter Thompson, where he rose to vice president and management supervisor.

In 1983, he moved to Ketchum Public Relations as vice president Subsequently, Kotcher joined G.S. Schwartz & Company as a partner and executive vice president and director. He rejoined Ketchum in 1986 as executive vice president and director of the New York office. He was promoted to regional director in 1988, chief operating officer in 1990, and added the president's title in 1992.


Ray serves on the board of Ketchum Public Relations' parent company, Ketchum Communications. He is also member of the executive committee and the board of directors of United Way of New York City, as well as the executive committee of the Boston University College of Communication.

SHARYN LERNER is Ketchum's corporate public relations specialist Her primary responsibilities include working with universities across the country and with Ketchum's nine national offices to coordinate and direct the firm's national internship program. She is also the editor of the company newsletter, manager of Ketchum's corporate advertising efforts, and administrator of the company's national professional development program.

Prior to Sharyn's promotion to her current position, she was an active account team member on a number of pharmaceutical accounts at Ketchum. Previously, she worked in the Training & Development division of The First Boston Corporation in New York. She also has experience as an intern for a CBS affiliate radio station in Binghampton, NY.

Sharyn graduated with honors from the State University of New York at Binghampton. She received a bachelor's degree in English with a concentration in public relations and advertising.

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