Hands-on help to gain public relations skills
THINKING quickly and creatively, a high work ethic and outstanding communications skills are some of the prerequisites for a successful career in public relations.
But not all of these qualities can be acquired through tertiary study.
The University of South Australia has joined forces with companies in the Adelaide public relations industry to offer internships to students during their course.
It gives soon-to-be graduates the opportunity to gain the experience and confidence that will set them apart from others who are hoping to break into the industry.
All third-year students participate in the program, which runs for a minimum of three weeks and aims to provide students with the opportunity to develop their skills on the job, while bridging the gap between education and the profession.
University bachelor of public relations program director Dr Joy Chia said hands-on experience was an important part of the learning process and gave graduates a good understanding of how the industry worked.
‘‘The internship is providing an important bridge between education, the public relations profession and the community,’’ she said.
‘‘For students, it provides a key opportunity to fine-tune their skills and understand first-hand what it takes to succeed in the profession, while for the public relations profession it’s a pathway to develop important industry knowledge on up-and-coming professionals.’’
Public relations consultancy Michels Warren and the Adelaide Central School of Art are two of the first organisations to team up as part of the program and provide invaluable experience for UniSA student Chloe Ford.
Ms Ford has spent more than 120 hours at Michels Warren to provide pro-bono public relations support to ACSA – a not-for-profit higher education provider dedicated to providing training to aspiring artists.
Michels Warren managing director Phil Martin said there were real benefits for all involved in the internship program.
‘‘Chloe has been working under our guidance on a project for ACSA, which isn’t in a position to pay for public relations support,’’ he said.
‘‘In this way, the client is receiving professional communications services and helping to build their brand while Chloe is gaining invaluable real-world experience.
‘‘For our part, Michels Warren gets to work with emerging practitioners and with clients whom we normally wouldn’t be in a position to help.’’
For Ms Ford, the experience has provided her with the confidence to launch herself into the job-hunting process when she graduates at the end of this year.
‘‘It is rewarding to be putting into practice everything that I have been studying so hard for – and knowing I have a great group of industry professionals to back me up and guide me through the process,’’ she said.
‘‘As the first-ever graduates of the public relations degree in South Australia, the internship has provided us with the skills and confi- dence to embark on our careers full steam ahead.’’
The Bachelor of Public Relations course teaches students how to communicate in a variety of contexts and to research the effectiveness of communication.
It also helps students develop ethical and responsible professional skills for a career at a modern public relations practice.
The three-year course is taught through the University of SA’s school of communication at the Magill campus.
ON THE JOB: Chloe Ford tries out her skills under the guidance of Michels Warren PR’s Phil Martin and the University of South Australia’s Dr Joy Chia. Picture: ANDREA LAUBE