International PR experience – is it worth it?

In 2018, I interned at a social media and marketing agency in Shanghai. Many people (including my worried parents) questioned my reasoning for interning in a country so foreign to me, and I can now say that interning in one of the largest cities in the world was one of the best decisions I have made. The need for public relations expertise transcends languages and cultures. All companies across the globe continually need assistance with crises, media relations support, reputation management and so many of the services we offer as professionals. Below I’ve included some key takeaways that showcase the benefits of gaining international public relations experience, especially as a college student. 

Learn what it takes to be successful in a different country 

I think one of the hardest lessons to learn is how to define success. It means different things to different people, but learning how others view success provides a new understanding and a fresh point of view. In public relations, it’s imperative to gain insight on the many ways you can measure success, as success will look different to each client. This requires constant re-evaluation and self-examination. 

Experience, experience, experience

When people tell you to get as much experience as possible during college, listen. Not only do multiple public relations opportunities help you narrow down your preferred industry, it helps young practitioners learn more about themselves and what all can be done within our profession. Many people don’t realize how vast public relations is. I’m still learning more about it every day. It’s also beneficial to learn how other professionals operate outside of the United States. This could provide a wealth of knowledge that helps you craft even more creative solutions to problems that others wouldn’t think of. This makes you even more marketable during the job hunt because your unique experience shows determination and a willingness to try something new. 

Network with professionals in your field across the globe 

If you’ve listened to any college professor and/or advisor ever, then you know that networking is incredibly important – especially early on. Gaining international experience gave me an opportunity to connect with people in my profession across the globe. While I was in Shanghai, I worked with teams from Los Angeles, New York, Australia and a variety of other locations. Building rapport and relationships with these professionals provided insight and an educational experience that I wouldn’t have received from a classroom setting. These relationships also live on today, and they could prove beneficial in the future when projects arise that require their expertise. 

All in all, I can definitely say that my international experience was worth every bit of stress and preparation. The knowledge and experience gained were more advantageous than I can express, especially if you’re interested in international public relations, learning different languages and experiencing other cultures. These opportunities can only help you in the long run!