“The basic scheme is quite simple – that people can learn through their everyday experiences to become who they want to be.” This quote on reflective practice by Christopher Johns I identified to hold true from my internship experience with the QUT Work Integrated Learning Program.
From late February to June this year, I applied my classroom knowledge to real-world clients at Brisbane Public Relations agency KDPR through QUT’s Work Integrated Learning Program (WIL). Having no previous work experience in Public Relations, I was eager to get my hands dirty and use my skills in the real world. I didn’t know which sector of communications work I wanted to delve into, but I knew I wanted to learn as much as possible and that a small agency would allow me the greatest exposure to a diverse workload and the chance to shadow the agency Director and Senior Consultants.
To kickstart my learning, I scanned the LinkedIn profiles of PR professionals who hold my dream positions at agencies such as MCPR and AMPR, sussing where they’d gained internship experience as emerging professionals, assessing KDPR to be my launchpad to the real world. A small creative and strategic communications agency, KDPR crafting client stories offering an array of communications services. A team of six led by Managing Director Kristin Devitt, KDPR has over fifteen years’ communications experience across corporate, nonprofit and government sectors.
From an initial (very hopeful) phone call to discuss potential opportunities and email exchanges to written approval from my academic supervisor and an internship offer, it was an exciting and straightforward process. Fast-forward to my first day at the KDPR Office, launching headfirst into the role, splitting my time into tasks which varied from the first to hundredth hour. These extended from basic secretarial tasks, client research and media audits to directly pitching to media, blog writing, drafting media releases and editing media kits to achieve client objectives.
Whilst I did not directly partake in client discussions, I was present in client and work-in-progress meetings, note-taking and gaining an in-depth understanding of PR agency practise in-action. Clients I worked with included Lime, American Chamber of Commerce, Netball Queensland, YourTown, Kids Helpline and Adani Renewables to name a few.
Being a part of the team during Lime’s safety crisis in New Zealand and Brisbane lent me a birds-eye-view of professional crisis communications and reputation management in action – also teaching me how to manage the phone ringing off the hook with media calls too! I gained great understanding of agency practise during this time, being challenged by the current news cycle and public happenings, giving me real-world exposure to the impact of public opinion in an organisation’s licence to operate and viability during turbulent times.
The real-world focus of QUT Business School’s subjects such as PR Planning, Issues, Stakeholders and Reputation and Global Public Relations Cases prepared me to understand different business sectors and reaching organisational target markets. To keep atop of my practise, I frequently referred back to the QUT PR Style Guide and previous course textbooks to ensure best-practise writing, and trawled through online news like no tomorrow. As an emerging practitioner in my final year, I still have theoretical and practical skills to further develop. That being said, I hope to always keep learning and building upon my skill set in such a rapidly changing and ever-evolving industry.
My advice to QUT Business Students is to please take advantage of the career opportunities on offer whilst studying. I sound like a broken record, but the chance to develop your professional skillset, network and gain course credit whilst doing so has truly prepared me for the workforce and a future in strategic communications. I believe it is advantageous to everyone. From here, I aim to continually learn from my everyday experiences, complete my studies and take on each opportunity that comes my way! If keen to follow my journey or connect with me on my professional journey, reach out to me on LinkedIn!