Diary of an intern

How NOT to treat an intern.

Hot Tin Roof’s star intern, Hilary Gray, explains why she has found the experience valuable…

I have a confession to make. I am a news junkie.

I have always been fascinated with how the media works and how a story becomes a story. In PR, I found a career where I could put this obsession and my love of language to good use. However, although I was sure it was what I wanted to do, I had no first hand knowledge of how the industry works and what was involved in working in PR. Winning an internship at Hot Tin Roof has allowed me to learn on the job.

Graduating into the biggest recession since the thirties was not part of my career plan. It has meant that internships – a traditional route into PR – have become longer and more common and it is more difficult than ever to find a permanent position.

Hot Tin Roof allowed me to dive straight in at the deep end and I was given real responsibility within minutes of walking in the door. On my first day, I started working on a press release and after selling it in to The Drum and PR Week it appeared in print and online.

Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to practice writing press releases and receive feedback on my writing. I’ve also been able to speak to journalists and, although it was daunting at first, it has really buoyed my confidence.

Since graduation, I’ve immersed myself in the world of digital PR and the skills I’ve picked up have been put to good use at Hot Tin Roof. I helped launch the Twitter profile for the Three Harbours Seafood Festival (@3harbourseafood) and I’ve found online opportunities for clients to provide comment and publicise their brands. I’ve been able to share my knowledge with my new colleagues so we’re learning from each other.

I believe that digital PR is going to be key to the future of the industry and having embraced Twitter wholeheartedly, I am pleased to be one of the co-organisers of this year’s EdTwestival. As the official PR person for the event, I’ll be responsible for media requests as well as finding sponsors and raffle prizes.

I’ve started networking within the Scottish media and have built contacts at several PR firms. I’ve attended the Young Communicator events, run by the CIPR (and sadly discontinued) which enabled me to make contact with others at a similar level from agencies and in-house PR. Tonight I’ll be getting my networking head on again as I’ll be attending the inaugural Twitchicks dinner organised by Victoria Raimes of the Edinburgh Evening News.

Of course, long-term internships aren’t sustainable for anyone and at some point internships need to turn into a permanent job. I recommend trying to get a part-time internship that you can mix with paid work or even a short, weeklong placement. My internship at Hot Tin Roof has been very flexible and I’m pleased to say that it has improved my PR skills. It has allowed me to get my first press hits and helped me stand out from the crowd.

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