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Jump in, the water’s fine!–Er, maybe not

3.8.09
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This question has been boggling my mind for months now. I am a week away from graduating, and I still haven’t found a definitive answer. Being a graduating senior is not the best place to be right now with the job market as it is. So I ask: Is diving in head first best idea, or should we just dip our toe in to test out the waters?

If you have not yet had an internship, I would say that an internship is the best option. If you have had an internship, but not with an agency, it can get tricky. And that is the position I am in right now. Let me take you on a ride on my train of thought to share my rationale:

Internship

  • PRO: If I intern at an agency and decide that a large agency is not the place for me, I won’t have to endure the  long-term damage to my emotions, ego or reputation.
  • CON: It could delay the number of years of professional experience under my belt.
  • PRO: No risk of getting laid off.
  • CON: The internship will most likely only last 3 months
  • PRO: Chance of being hired on full-time or of getting internship renewed.
  • CON: Hourly wage and no health benefits.
  • PRO: Treated as a learning experience as well as a job experience

Entry-level AE job

  • PRO: It’s a real job– this is real experience
  • CON: It’s a real job– play time is over
  • PRO: Salary and health benefits
  • CON: No Job security: I’m expendable, which means the first to get laid off.
  • PRO: More responsibility and accountability

Well the list can go on, but that’s just what I have jotted down. So, what have I decided to do ? I decided to take the internship route, unless my dream job came along (which it hasn’t). What do you think? Do you think I made the right choice? Am I wrong about any of the above? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Atlanta978 permalink
    3.8.09 3:43 pm

    I work at a smaller integrated agency and my job, in my belief, is more secured. We offer a variety of services at a cost lower than that of a large firm. I have been tasked with a lot of senior level tasks, more so than I would receive after two years at a large agency. I interned for the third largest PR agency worldwide, but it turned out it was not for me. The name though on my resume opened a lot of doors later on down the road. Food for thought. Good luck!

  2. 3.8.09 3:48 pm

    I would say you absolutely made the right choice. I would actually disagree with a few of your cons, like ‘It could delay the number of years of professional experience under my belt,’ in my experience, having good internship experience is often equal to entry level job experience (and sometimes better). I’m a few years into my PR career and would still reference some of my intern experience if I applied for a new job. And depending on the opp, it is a ‘real job.’ An agency internship during a summer in college was a complete, 9-5+ opportunity and gave me an excellent snapshot into what I was embarking upon after college. Internships are the best way to get your feet wet and a smart move in this economy. Good luck!

  3. staceystewpr permalink*
    3.8.09 4:55 pm

    I appreciate your comments and advice. In response to Atlanta978: I am glad to hear that you feel like your job is secured at your smaller agency because that was another question I had (if small agencies were having to lay off people, too). You did what I was thinking of doing by interning at a large agency and scaling down if I felt a large agency was not for me. It’s seems like it would be easier to to start big then go small, instead of the other way around.

    In response to Nicole: Thanks for your thoughts. I must admit, I was wary to put that con up there because I was unsure if that was true or not. In fact, an internship I interview for on Friday seems more like a “real job” than an internship (or at least the internships I’ve done so far). You offer sound advice. Thank you for your support!

  4. FeatureJ permalink
    3.8.09 7:25 pm

    I feel your pain. I graduated in May of 2008 and had two previous internships but none in at an agency. After testing out the job market all summer, I realized that if I truly wanted to begin a career in PR, I needed to get an internship at an agency. I successfully got an internship at one of the country’s top PR firms, and moved to Baltimore for three months. This was probably one of the best decisions for my career. Sure there are some downfalls, I didn’t get paid, no benefits, but that’s about it. The experience I gained here was worth it. I’ve been back for about two months and have had many interviews, although I have yet to except any position. I am waiting for my dream entry-level job, if ever there is such a thing. But, to make a long story short, I have found that most PR jobs require agency experience (ie. an internship). Therefore, I feel you made the right decision, just make the best of it, ask questions, volunteer to help with projects and most importantly, network. Good luck!

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