The life changing internship in PR and comms

22 June 2011 By Northern Lights

The life changing internship in PR and comms image

NafisaBy Nafisa Shafiq

The new Northern Lights Interns will be starting next month (congrats to ‘fab four’!) and unbeknown to them, they will be embarking on a rollercoaster ride – the kind that you queue an hour for, scream throughout and then at the end of it all, want to go on again!

A year ago, I took part in the internship – I call it the life changing internship!

After finishing my exams in May, I was offered a marketing position in a well known food manufacturing company (not name dropping but my client list included M&S, Sainsbury’s, Nando’s etc). The job was to start in July and my love for challenges and new opportunities made me apply for the Northern Lights PR Internship – the plan was to gain some real life experience before I start my new job and also show my new manager that I’m driven, passionate and so forth.

So, what happened to my plan?

In the space of three weeks I worked on projects for Hallmark, Northern Rail and Bradford School of Management (a dream come true for most grads!) I networked with people such as Andrew Palmer and Justin McKeown – individuals that I may never have come into contact with. And, I learnt from industry experts such as Karyn Fleeting and Jane Hustwit.

Seriously, it wasn’t just a crash course in PR but also a course in business and life!

I did go onto start my new marketing role and I immediately knew my heart wasn’t in it. Yes, I’m a foodie and I love branding and developing products, but working in comms gave me a buzz! That’s what I wanted to do!

I decided to leave my job and pursue a career in PR.

Over the last year I have completed numerous internships; I have worked for free, commuted for over two hours a day, worked long into the nights and on the week-ends – all to develop and hone my PR skills.

And gosh, how it was worth it! Last week, I was offered a role at Edelman Digital (I accepted and start next month!)

I honestly believe that this may not have been possible without the internship and without the Northern Lights team (including all contacts) support.

And so, my three tips for the new interns:

  1. It’s three weeks.  They will fly by, so use them to your advantage. Learn from each and every person that you meet and use what you learn!
  2. Give it your all! Be professional, polite, outstanding etc. You’d be surprised what and how much people remember about you
  3. Don’t dismiss anyone! This is something that Victoria taught us in our networking session. It’s something I have since remembered and truly believe in -each and every person that I met through the internship has over the last year helped me in one way or another (can I just say thank-you to you all)

And of course enjoy the experience.

These are my tips for the interns. Is there anything that you think I’m missing or any other advice that you would like to give to the ‘fab four’?

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Written by Northern Lights


  • Hiya I’m looking forward to starting the internship as PR is something I’ve never considered going into before, but after reading a bit about it and reading this blog I can honestly say it could be a career I’m considering once I graduate, I think the internship will hopefully broaden my networking and communication skills in general

  • Hi Nafeesa – your new role sounds great and thanks for the tips- I’m sure they will come in handy. We have just completed our first week and it was fun and hard work – we even had to bake a cake on our first day (!)

    What will your new role involve? Is it B2B or B2C?

    Also wanted to ask if you had tips for the presentations we need to do for clients?


  • A cake on your first day? That sounds fab! How was it? And what did you learn from the activity? (Farrah, how did this help you with developing your communication skills?)

    My role involves a mix of both B2B and B2C. I’m mainly looking at how digital and social media can be integrated into a PR strategy – exciting and very different from anything I have done before!

    Your presentation for clients Firstly, I recommend that you keep things simple. What I learnt from Northern Lights and the other places that I have worked is that you don’t need to spend loads to be successful – consider things like community events, workshops and interaction on a one to one basis.

    Secondly, I’d recommend that you think about the overall business before suggesting something. Remember, the projects that you do are real projects the businesses will most likely use aspects of your proposal (or even all of it!) So think about your suggestions and look at how they will impact different departments and people in the business. Look at how realistic your ideas are and how they will ‘fit’ with the company.

    And finally, for your presentation – think about your audience. Consider the roles and responsibilities of the individuals and tailor what you say. Your proposal doesn’t have a limit and it will probably cover a range of things, but your presentation does have a limit, so think about the audience and question one another whether the things that you say are relevant for individuals and are they interesting (people usually switch off if they are not interested in what you are saying!)

    Let me know if these tips have helped and whether you need any other advice. And best of luck for it! You will all be fab!

  • […] not have otherwise considered working in PR, into a long term career in the industry in the UK. One of last year’s interns moving to London for a job at the world’s largest independent PR agency Edelman is a clear sign […]

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