Seventy-five public relations students will undertake internships this year. As the 2016 program kicks-off, two 2015 interns share their experiences.
The internship is a final year capstone course within the Bachelor of Communication (Public Relations) program.
It requires students to complete 100-hour placements, with on-the-job mentoring and feedback from supervisors.
Public relations interns also complete a project where they tie together their placement with their own interests, values and goals. RMIT Senior Lecturer Philippa Brear works within the Public Relations program.
“We want our final year students to see themselves as emerging professionals,” Brear said.
“These placements and projects are integral to their transition to industry.”
Students Lucy Seng Hpa and Abrar Abd El-Migid took part in the internship course last year.
Seng Hpa interned at the Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre, which undertakes world-class mental health research, aiming to improve the lives of people living with mental illness.
Seng Hpa's interest in the Centre partly arose from her personal experiences as a carer. But she was also motivated by the genuine social importance of the Centre’s work.
During her placement, Seng Hpa became fascinated by how the Centre communicated with its stakeholders.
In focusing on how the organisation articulated its identity and activities, Seng Hpa's interests turned to not-for-profit branding.
“I became interested in finding out more about how important good branding is for not-for-profits and how it affects the organisation,” Seng Hpa said.
Through her research, Seng Hpa observed that branding and communication are closely aligned in the not-for-profit sector.
While branding is as valuable for not-for-profits as it is for corporations, Seng Hpa learned that better foundations and frameworks are needed to improve not-for-profit branding.
“I’m interested in pursuing a career in this field, and my project gave me some insight into not-for-profit branding, plus the value communicators can bring to these organisations,” Seng Hpa explained.
“In the future I hope to be an advocate for better mental health research and services.”
Student Abrar Abd El-Migid wanted to complete her internship at Mango, a communication consultancy, because of its award-winning reputation in public relations, social media, sponsorship and experiential marketing.
During her placement, El-Migid worked with Mango clients that included a number of well-known brands.
With a long-standing interest in health and wellbeing, for her internship project El-Migid fused this personal passion with professional priorities.
She decided to look at how people care for themselves in the workplace: her research focused on sustainable work practices and work/life balance or “working within your means”.
El-Migid surveyed a group of PR practitioners for her project.
“These issues can be daunting and empowering,” El-Migid explained.
“My research found that while PR practitioners are aware of the importance of work/life balance, and the ramifications of overwork, sometimes other things take precedence.
“Maybe it’s meeting deadlines, or it can simply be the love of the job.”
Survey respondents agreed that even small measures help with balance at work.
“Some ensure they leave their desk for lunch; others walk across the office to discuss something, instead of always emailing,” El-Migid said.
“Based on my research, I’m more motivated than ever to take responsibility for my own health in the workplace. I want to build a long term career.”
Story: Philippa Brear