University vs Industry: My experience before interning

When I left school, I had no idea what I wanted to do but chose Media and Communications, a broad undergraduate degree to keep my options open. The first year of the degree was a challenge as I struggled to connect with any of the content, as I found it hard to see how any of it would translate to the workplace.

However, in semester two of my second year, it was an introduction to public relations (PR) unit that really piqued my interest due to the practical structure of the tutorials and assignments around tasks that PR practitioners would undertake in their day-to-day.

And, now in my final year, I’m focusing on recruitment practices in the corporate sector in my critical research capstone unit. I have found working at Madden & Assoc (M&A) an incredible addition to my studies which has provided invaluable context and understanding of a specific workplace and industry dynamic.

Theory vs Practice: Building relationships and keeping the wheels turning

Today, I’m simultaneously, interning and studying public relations, which has built an effective bridge between the theoretical concepts offered at university and how they translate in practice.

Working at Madden, I have learned that you need to become an extension of the client you are working for to be truly successful in PR. This often takes a lot of time and conversations that might not seem directly relevant but are vital to understanding the brand and essence of the client. Relationship development is something that cannot be replicated through case studies or coursework.

Further, I have come to appreciate the importance of the unsung ‘backroom jobs’, which provide support and foundation for client service delivery. The interdependency of such tasks, be they great or small, are not practically explained or explored at university.

I now have a greater appreciation for how minor tasks such as media list updates and meticulous communications calendar upkeep galvanise and shore up quality outcomes for the agency further up the line.

Learning on the job: From media training to pitching stories

Above all, I have loved working in a boutique agency as it enabled me to work equally with all team members and learn from each of their own strengths and unique set of experiences. Every day I walk away with more skills under my belt, whether it be something as basic as a new keyboard shortcut on Excel, or something as complex as understanding the best way to pitch a cryptocurrency research paper to mainstream media outlets.

Being fortunate enough to accompany Managing Director and Founder Bruce Madden to one of his media training sessions was one of my key learning experiences. The session centred around the idea of being ‘spokespeople’, not ‘answer people’, and never to underestimate the power of three with communication! The value of the workshop was evident in observing trainees not only improve understanding but also skill sets in dealing with the media. Watching them develop their unique spokesperson style cemented the power and effectiveness of messages when framed correctly and authentically.

Overall, interning at Madden has shown me that industry and workplace experience is invaluable when looking to further knowledge and progress career contemplations. As I contemplate my future direction, I feel more confident in the value I have to offer having developed practical skills and an appreciation of the impact of effective strategic communication. Whether set on a chosen career path or uncertain like me, I would encourage other students to take up an internship to complement their studies and help them develop workplace skills and relationships.

If you’re interested in interning at Madden or would like to learn more reach out to info@madden.com.au