In recent years there has been much discussion in the press regarding the exploitation of interns – particularly in the PR industry. With the job market growing increasingly competitive by the day, the PRCA even launched a campaign with PR Week lobbying to end the practice of unpaid PR internships.
Amongst all this negativity, however, here at Little Red Rooster we’ve long championed the value of our PR internship programme, ensuring every single student or graduate who walks through the door to the Coop is treated fairly, gains meaningful experience and, more importantly, enjoys their time with us. In fact, as part of our boot camp every intern will leave with either a solid job offer or a reference to take with them on their career journey (for example, thanks to their experience at LRR former interns have found full-time work at major fashion houses such as Mulberry and Roland Mouret). In fact, almost 50% of our current team started out as interns – four of which have been here over two years, while our Izzy has grown with the company and been with us for almost five!
Unlike most London agencies, our interns don’t find themselves cowering in the stock cupboard or consigned to the kitchen making endless cups of tea (even though we do drink plenty of it). Our placements are hands-on. Because, after all, we’re an agency that works incredibly hard – but does so as one team.
So, while you may find yourself packing the odd sample to send to a Vogue stylist from time to time, you’ll also be drafting blogs and basic press releases, preparing press clippings and client emails, and even helping out at major events such as our infamous Summer Showcase. There’s no denying we’re an incredibly fast-paced and dynamic agency, but we believe there’s no better way to learn. We provide our interns with a comprehensive overview of not just our clients and the way we work but the industry as a whole – and what to expect as they progress throughout their career.
With this in mind, we’re incredibly proud of our track record and the fact so many of our former interns are still with us and are now vital members of the team, leading major accounts such as Smeg and Ted Baker. It always helps junior team members feel encouraged about a company that treats its employees fairly, and also knowing that even senior staff have been in your position.
Applying for your first role in PR can be frustrating, but if you want to get ahead in PR, at first you have to get in. So be prepared to work hard. Be enthusiastic. Be clear about your agenda and explicit in your ambition. Build a thick skin. And do whatever you can to assist your team and your colleagues – notice one of your peers constantly staying late? Offer to help, rather than shooting off out of the door bang on 5pm. It goes a long way, and we can assure you it doesn’t go unnoticed.
Many agencies purposefully don’t pay their interns, instead rather seeing them as free labour – and there’s some argument to be had that everyone has to start somewhere. But don’t resign yourself to spending two years unpaid. Look for agencies that offer fair pay – it’s likely to give you a good indication of that it’s actually like to work there and how the staff are treated (you can find the PRCA’s full list of UK agencies which pay their interns here).