Last week we had Gregory Tan, a digital analyst from Ogilvy, discussing his career path and the importance of internships.
This week, we’ve got Lauren Gray, a PR student and intern, whose blog Social PR Lifestyle! has taught me a lot about personal branding, PR internships, portfolios and online networking.
Q1. First thing’s first, tell us a little about yourself.
Well I’m Lauren Gray and I’m a senior Communication Major with a concentration in Public Relations and Minors in
Leadership and Marketing at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, NC. Public relations, marketing and social media are my main interests. PRSSA, cooking, traveling and reading are my passions. My friends & my brother are probably the most important to me, but I’m crazy about my dogs as well.
I’m the new PRSSA National Vice President of Public Relations for the 2011-2012 year, an intern with Social Fresh, A&O Public and the WCU PR E-Marketing Department, Director of PR & Marketing for SGA and a News Writer and Social Media Coordinator for The Western Carolinian. I work a lot, but I love what I do!
Q2. You seem to be juggling a lot of roles presently, i.e. Editorial Assistant Intern at Social Fresh LLC, News Writer and Social Media Coordinator at The Western Carolinian. Not to mention your study workload. How do you cram it all in? Do you sleep at all?
Time management! Seriously. It’s a common word, but I really put it into practice every single day. Get Google Calendar and Google Docs – it really saved me. I honestly schedule out everyday, back-to-back hours from about 9 a.m. until at least 9 p.m. Yes, I work longer than that too. I have a different schedule every other day to change things up a little bit, but I like to know when and what I will be doing so I know I can get everything done.
Contrary to popular belief, I do sleep [I really do!] I average about 5-7 hours of sleep a night. Is that the best? Probably not, but it’s working for me now! I also invest in a lot of coffee.
I sometimes live in my office [one of three as well] as my best friend says, but I get a lot accomplished and I get everything done.
I’m really busy a lot, so I have to also schedule in time for my friends and my boyfriend. Some people may think that’s ridiculous, but I really do have to set times for people here and Skype chats with my friends across the country! I do make time for the people in my life. They are very important to me!
Q3. What’s your current internship like?
Which one? Haha!
I really love all three of my internships. They have been extremely valuable to me and provided me with numerous opportunities.
I just started with A&O PR, an arts focused PR agency, this week so I’m pretty excited about that! I will be doing social media and client management for them.
With Social Fresh, it’s something new everyday. I have a lot of responsibility from managing several blog contributors, finding links for Facebook and Twitter, helping with the Social Fresh Facebook and Twitter, helping manage InvestinSocial.com and anything else that needs to be done! I’m taking on more tasks with Social Fresh as well. It’s been a great experience!
For the WCU PR E-marketing internship, I manage the official WCU Facebook and Twitter pages, which has been a HUGE learning experience for me. A lot of people look to these pages for the latest WCU information and updates. I really learned how to deal with negative feedback quickly. Through this internship, I’ve definitely seen how important it is that news is updated 24/7 and that people want information immediately.
Q4. In your opinion, how important is an internship for a PR student as part of their career?
Extremely. More important than your classes, in my opinion. My classes have been beneficial, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve definitely learned the most when I was pushed into real-world experiences.
There’s nothing more eye opening than when you are in a real-world situation making decisions and getting real results. It’s your responsibility and reputation at stake.
You want to be able to have experience through an internship to show that you can put what you’ve learned in the classroom into real practice. You can learn all you want to, but are you obtaining that knowledge and putting into real skills?
Having internships also shows potential employers that you have experience and you have materials to prove you have done something and learned something. I suggest having at least two internships in various organizations, agencies, companies, etc.
Q5. How do you go about networking? Are social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter critical to your relationship building?
I do most of my networking online through various social media sites.
Twitter and LinkedIn have been the most critical to building up my network of connections. My blog has been a great resource for networking as well!
The Twitter chats have been the most beneficial to me. I learn so much on a weekly basis from my favourite chats like #PRstudchat, #u30pro, #pr20chat, #brandchat, #careerchat, #PRSSA and more! It’s a lot to keep up with, but there is so much information and dialogue in each chat.
I love LinkedIn because the discussions are also a great place for learning. It’s more than 140 characters and real conversation happens through these discussions. It’s also a great place to recommend people and find other connections through mutual friends. I’m really getting more into LinkedIn.
Facebook has been getting better for networking through the new group format. You can catch my conversation on a daily basis through the #PRstudchat, PRSSA and #u30pro groups on Facebook. A lot of conversations, questions, discussions and more go down in those groups.
I also attend quite a few conferences a year. Last year, I went to PRSSA National Conference in D.C., the ECU PRSSA Regional Conference, PRSSA National Assembly, Social Fresh Tampa, and a few more. Conferences are a great place to connect with people who really feel your passion for the industry!
Q6. And lastly, what’s the most important advice you can offer to a PR student looking to move into an intern position?
If you are looking for an internship position, start building your online reputation or “personal brand” and start making connections.
Don’t just talk to people just to talk to them or build followers, really connect with people, remember people and talk to people. Stay in touch with them!
Start putting your materials online in an online portfolio ASAP. Start a professional blog about topics, trends, questions, etc. in your industry or about your interests.
Get involved! Start talking to other students, interns and professionals online. They are there to talk to and connect with people as well. Get involved in the conversation through hash tag (#) chats and different discussions on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and other sites.
Get involved with your industry and what’s going on. Stay up-to-date on the latest news and trends so you can discuss them in an interview or online through social media platforms.
Don’t be afraid to apply for positions across the country! Be open to the possibility of a virtual internship. I really think you can learn as much from a virtual internship as an office internship.