A lot of students and people have asked me how I got a lot of experience in college.... Easy: I created a lot of the opportunities and offered my services for experience.
I went to a university in a very secluded area of North Carolina (seemingly) without a lot of public relations and marketing opportunities. I started out in PRSSA in August of 2009 and knew I needed experience.
I first kicked off my experience by getting involved with improving the overall public relations strategy for a local town. This was a long and very involved process and it kept me very busy. We worked for the town of Dillsboro and the mayor's office on different strategies. If your local town has a town office, which I'm sure it does, stop by and see if they need any help with any strategies or ideas.
Jack the Dipper is a famous and favorite local ice cream spot in Sylva, NC. When I noticed they didn't have a presence online, I stopped by and offered my services and gave them recommendations of my work. They hired me and I worked for them for a summer with their online strategy and they still keep it up today.
I've also been contacted by companies to work with them as an intern after they had seen my previous experience and noticed I had a passion for social media and all things digital.
How you can do this too:
1. Get involved.
3. Showcase yourself.
You have to get involved. You cannot expect someone to just hand you opportunities. You have to do the work and get started somewhere. Where you start doesn't always matter, but it is about how hard you worked there and what you can prove you did with what you had.
Get involved with organizations on campus, work with them on their public relations and marketing strategy and be effective. Start with your interests or groups you are already involved in. Don't know where to start? Talk to your professor or advisor or seek out your local PRSSA Chapter.
Unfortunately not all opportunities are paid opportunities... but you need experience. It is okay to hold multiple jobs and positions at once. If you do this, make sure you have enough time for your school work though. Only take on as much as you can handle.
When you get involved, a lot of it is volunteering. There are a lot of companies and organizations out there that need help. Seek them out.
After you've gotten involved and started to volunteer, showcase what you can do. Have the confidence to make suggestions and blaze your own path with the company. A lot of the digital and social media strategy may be new to some companies, so you become the teacher here.
Collect what you do and put it in your portfolio. Save the documents and put them in your online portfolio too. A resume is great, but your portfolio is the real star and shows you actually did what your resume says.
Getting internships and experience isn't always easy, BUT it is possible. Start off your winter break with making opportunities happen and seeking out new opportunities for the spring semester. It is possible!
Let me know if you have any questions or still don't know where to start.