If you are like me when began as an Ad/PR major, you might not know what branch of PR you want to eventually end up in. This is why internships are so important because you can try different things to learn what you like and what you don’t. When I began my search for an internship, I was working at the local Goodwill store. It only felt natural to begin my search by asking if there were any internships I could do within the organization. I would like to point out that I really didn’t have much interest in working in non-profit, but then again I didn’t know much about it either. By taking a non-profit internship, I received tons of valuable experiences that I wouldn’t have been able to get in any other internship. This is what leads me to believe that every PR student should do take a non-profit internship before entering the real world. Here is why:
1. A learning environment
Non-profits tend to be a more slow-paced environment than an agency might be which makes it a great first internship (especially if you are nervous). Additionally, it leaves more room for learning experiences. For example, I started at Goodwill as a donations intern, but was largely interested in media relations, which at the time was mostly handled by the Chief Marketing Officer. After expressing that I would be interested in putting to the test all I had learned in my classes about media relations, she graciously gave me such opportunities. Biggest lesson here: always ask to do more.
2. More opportunities
Generally in non-profits, the Marketing/PR departments are no larger than a handful of people and those people generally have a lot on their plate. In my internship at Goodwill, if I was finished with my work I was assigned, I could assist other positions in the department. This allowed me to learn more about the different roles in the organization and the skills you needed to have to be successful. In 6 months, I had learned the role of the donations manager, graphic designer, community relations coordinator as well as the digital media coordinator role. In regards to value, this internship gave me the experience of four and that is definitely worth it.
3. Creative Challenges
It is no secret that most non-profits are working within a tight budget. You will often have to think outside of the box about how you are going to bring attention to your non-profit’s mission without spending a ton of money. This could look different in different organizations, but overall this experience can be so valuable to bring with you to a real life job. It is a tangible experience that you can bring you on the top of the applicant pile when applying for jobs.
Whether or not your goal is to eventually work in non-profit, having non-profit internship experience can be extraordinarily valuable. I would recommend every student, especially those just looking gain experience, to start with non-profit.
About Ashley Mamula
Ashley Mamula is Grand Valley PRSSA’s Chapter President and an Account Associate for GrandPR. She has a passion for thrifting, making her the perfect fit to be working as a Marketing Generalist at Goodwill of Greater Grand Rapids. As an advertising and public relations major, she loves learning about the latest PR trends.