Opinion

An open letter from one PR industry intern to another

Freshly landed in Melbourne from his native New Zealand, wide-eyed PR intern Campbell Brown shares his advice for any intern in a similar situation.

Kia ora future interns,

This open letter is for you. Having been in your position, I know first-hand that being an intern is never easy. Then again, they say the best things in life never are, so I hope this letter gives you a bit of comfort.

This story starts about six months ago when I graduated with my bachelor degree in communication at Auckland University of Technology, packed my bags, and did what many of my Kiwi counterparts were doing – moving across sea and land to our closest westerly neighbour and arriving in Melbourne full of hope. I moved away from friends, family and most importantly, as a true millennial, my LinkedIn connections.

Great move, wise guy. But as the old saying goes: “It’s not what you know but who you know”. My who you know led me right to the front door of a fellow Kiwi, Dilworth old boy and director of Civic Reputation, Chris Newman.

At our first coffee catch-up, Chris provided me plenty of sound advice and direction a fresh-off-the boat guy looking to crack into the industry could ask for. A month later I got a call and an internship at Civic Reputation. With my pen, pad and “lowest ranking officer” badge on, I entered the world of PR.

This is where the advice part comes in – learn fast.

First impressions are everything, and starting off on the right foot is a great look for employers and a great way to establish yourself, especially in the fast-paced world of PR.

Anyone can set expectations for you but if you fail to meet your own then you’re in trouble. My first task, which I will never forget, was to research famous and well-known Australians for the National Australia Day Council (a topic of which I, as a Kiwi, knew little). I had to learn quickly.

My one forte, the skills I’ve learned in my many years of bartending – agility, superior customer service, attentiveness, efficiency – helped me. I must also add, fortunately for me the patient team at Civic Reputation were there to show me the ropes.

I started my internship with Civic only doing one day a week, hoping I might be able to gain a modicum of experience. With a bit of luck, and a lot of hard work, I converted my initial internship into two full days of well-paid casual work a week, which are a mid-week breath of fresh air before my weekends and long nights as a bartender begin.

I’ve done some work that I’ve been very proud of across industries I have known very little about and I’ve had to learn quick, but that’s what being an intern is all about – the opportunity to learn.

It’s important to remember that it’s ok to make mistakes, so long as you acknowledge them, rectify the problem, learn from it and move on. I wish that I had known that sooner. At the ripe age of 19, I entered my first corporate job and was told by the CEO: “if you’re not learning, you’re dying.”

If you don’t learn from your mistakes, you’ll keep making them. If you don’t strive to learn more, you stagnate. Strive to learn or wait to die. With the world getting smaller and smaller, I believe that this is the only way to live, especially for you hungry interns.

Good luck,

Campbell Brown

PR intern

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