It’s not always easy to land your first PR agency gig without resources, connections and having fulfilled an agency internship (or two, or three…) first. Working in an agency requires a lot of intangible skills – such as initiative, agility, accountability and work ethic – that compliment more technical skills like writing and strategy. This is why Dittoe PR has long invested in its intern program and has become one of the most competitive and coveted PR agency internships in the Circle City.

We’ve evolved our program and processes over the years to curate an internship program that ensures every aspiring PR pro has a chance to experience real, client-driven work and strong company culture. A well-run internship program provides a stronger talent pipeline – not just within our own internship pool, but by increasing our visibility with our interns’ network of professors, classmates and peers.

1. Put time into that first impression.

There is nothing quite as deflating as walking into your first day on the job (or in this case, internship) only to find it’s nothing like you expected. Spend time setting the tone at the start of your internship program to ensure interns understand your company and culture and how they fit into the mix. Our co-internship coordinators put emphasis on a well-rounded onboarding experience that involves everything from meet-and-greets with the entire team to tool and skills trainings and beyond.

2. Encourage and provide mentorship.

Every intern is assigned a mentor who can help guide them through their time as an intern at our agency. Interns have one-on-one meetings with their mentor to ask questions, discuss feedback, share ideas and explore conversations on PR and the workplace. If they’re struggling, this provides an open forum to discuss and find ways to lift them back up. If they’re thriving, we consider new challenges and opportunities for them. This added layer of connection often encourages our interns to connect with other team members in a similar way and thus build their network.

3. Don’t let them sink, but definitely let them swim.

You don’t know what you don’t know, and in PR, the best way to learn is to actually experience the work directly. We make our internship program emulate real work for real clients. There are no made-up projects “just because.” Our interns are able to work on projects that directly affect the results we garner for our clients – something we hold very highly at our agency. Another unique variable of our program is that interns have the opportunity to work alongside supervisors at all levels – from our account coordinators all the way up to our vice president and partners – so they are able to learn from PR pros at various points in their careers.

4. Give (and get) all the feedback.

“Here we grow” is a core value at Dittoe PR, and we prioritize giving constructive and productive feedback to our interns for the entirety of their time on our team. This includes direct and specific feedback on a project, as well as general professional feedback that will help them succeed in the workplace. On the flip side, create a two-way street for communication and ask for their feedback. What we can do more or less of? How can we improve the intern experience? Let them feel heard.

5. Help them forget they are an intern.

It’s important for interns to feel a part of your team. This helps them build community in the workplace and feel more invested in role on your team. More so, include them in non-work conversations and experiences (i.e., happy hours or team outings). Company culture is one of the most coveted characteristics of someone’s career, and Dittoe PR has cultivated a pretty darn good one, so we do our best to showcase that experience to our interns every day.

6. Don’t hide them from clients.

A few years ago, we added another layer to our intern program – assigning each to a “dedicated account.” For the duration of their internship, interns actively support one designated client and are also able to participate in internal and external meetings for the client, handle select communication to the client and more. This gives very tangible experience of what it might be like as an ongoing member of an internal client account team. (It’s also great practice for our entry-level role!)

7. Prioritize hiring efforts and networking.

Our team often participates in agency tours with college groups, sets up at campus events to meet prospective team members, presents on panels for various college courses, and more. This effort exposes us to a large talent pool, creates connections with respected college professors and career contacts, and increases our talent pool each semester. In addition to building awareness of our agency and internship program, we open our applications and begin interviews early, which results in star talent joining our team.

Interested in exploring internships with us? We are currently accepting summer internship applications until Feb. 21. Find more info here.